Operation Wallacea (Opwall) is a conservation research organisation that is funded by, and relies on, teams of student volunteers who join expeditions for the opportunity to work on real-world research programs alongside academic researchers.
Large teams of ecologists, scientists, academics and postgraduate researchers who are specialists in various aspects of biodiversity or social and economic studies are concentrated at the target study sites. This gives volunteers the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects alongside field specialists.
The expeditions produce a large number of publications in peer-reviewed journals each year – over 270 so far – almost all of which had data collected by teams of volunteers. It has also led to the discovery of 31 new species that have been formally described. Independent funding enables large temporal and spatial biodiversity and socio-economic datasets to be produced and provide information to help with organising effective conservation management programmes.
Most science programs that deliver research outcomes are funded on a short-term basis by grants with typically tightly restricted aims. Long-term projects covering large bio-geographical scales that can incorporate more than one ecosystem are rare. By adopting a volunteer funded model, Opwall does not suffer from those restrictions and can draw upon researchers from a wide range of different disciplines and academic institutions, and create long term research projects. Those researchers and academics also separate Opwall from other volunteer organisations, allowing a truly research orientated project.
I have been offered the opportunity to volunteer as a Research Assistant at the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve expedition for three weeks followed by a marine expedition off the coast of Akumal for a further three weeks. This is an opportunity of a life time and I could actually make a difference. If you could help by donating, any amount it would be appreciated as my target is £4500.
What is covered by the expedition costs?
The expedition costs paid to Operation Wallacea cover virtually everything from the start point of the expedition to the finish point of the expedition. This includes all accommodation, food, transfers between sites, all on-site training courses (except optional additional courses), diving, $1.5 million medical and evacuation insurance, academic supervision, provision of all the support and medical staff and participation in any of the research projects being offered. The whole science programme and subsequent reporting is supported by the expedition costs.
To aid my funding i will also be doing veganuary. For the whole month of January i will be going vegan along with doing several walks and other fundraising events.
Throughout my experdition i intend on keeping daily dieries and videos of my experiance to post when i retern home as well as wrighting a paper on my findings.