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Social and Environmental Responsibility

Operation Wallacea adheres to a social and environmental responsibility programme that meets or exceeds the requirements of a Responsible Tourism Operator based on the following core principles:

To ensure that all field operations are run by local NGOs or host country academic institutions who own the facilities and equipment used

This helps ensure that as much of the funding as possible from the project is spent in the host country. Many new sites are developed where there are existing NGOs or institutions able to run the research programme from the start. In other locations new NGOs are established from existing stakeholder groups, with funding used to develop facilities and capacity with the long term aim of attracting additional income outside the main Opwall season. At some larger sites no existing partners exist, and the expeditions are initially managed directly by Opwall. After a few years of building the capacity of the site, a core group of local staff are encouraged to establish a new NGO and the facilities and equipment built up by Opwall are donated to them and a period of joint operation agreed,

To maximise income to local communities

In order to avoid leakage of funds away from the research site a number of techniques are used, including prioritising locally owned homestays where available. Alternatively, tents or hammocks which belong to the local NGOs are used in many of the sites. Food and supplies are purchased locally wherever possible and guides, cooks and porters drawn from local communities to staff the projects. Boats, buses and vehicles used for the project are locally owned and operated in most cases.

To ensure that staff and volunteers understand and have minimal impact on local culture and customs

Maximum numbers of volunteers and staff are set for each of the sites. All volunteers and staff are briefed on local culture and customs and required to adhere to agreed standards of behaviour. Behaviour is monitored by senior staff members, and any concerns addressed immediately and appropriate action taken where necessary.

To ensure that the core research programme is targeted at providing information on locally relevant conservation priorities

This is one of the main objectives of the Opwall research programme (see Global Research and Conservation Management Strategy) and there are many examples of how this is achieved (see Research Objectives for each country).

To work with local communities to develop income streams linked to conservation management

A primary focus of this is developing ecotourism using Opwall facilities outside the main research season. Additionally, novel conservation interventions focusing on bringing economic incentives to local stakeholders are developed and managed by the Wallacea Trust charity.

To work with local communities to increase awareness of environmental issues and provide skills training for conservation management

Projects focus on engagement with both local communities and conservation organisations, to ensure there is knowledge transfer and local involvement in the research programme.

To ensure the research programmes have minimal impacts on the use of resources

Resource usage (water, fuel, energy) at each of the sites has been identified and targets set. Many of the sites have limited freshwater supplies, and so reduction of water usage is a core part of the expedition protocols.

ClimateCare Calculator

As an organisation Operation Wallacea is dedicated to the conservation of our natural environment through both the research we undertake and the education we provide all our participants. We firmly believe that the value of the work we are doing outweighs the carbon emissions created by people travelling to our projects, and so don’t include a mandatory carbon offset in our expedition costs.

However, for those wishing to offset the carbon cost of flights more directly, you can use the calculator below in order to do so.

Carbon Offsetting

Joining our expeditions contributes directly to the study and protection of threatened biodiversity, brings significant financial benefits to small local communities that reduces reliance on natural resource exploitation, and works towards protecting valuable carbon stocks from deforestation. However, travelling to and from our expedition sites also involves significant carbon emissions from air travel. Climate change is a global crisis requiring urgent action by all, and we are therefore proud to announce that from 2020 we will be partnering with the Wallacea Trust (UK Charity 1078362) to offer carbon offsetting activities for all our participants.


A recent publication that made headlines around the world (Bastin et al 2019, Science) demonstrated the huge potential of tree planting in fighting climate change. They showed that of the 4.4 billion hectares worldwide suitable for trees to grow, 0.9 billion are currently without trees but are suitable for reforestation. Successfully reforesting the entire 0.9 billion hectares could store 205 gigatons of carbon – the majority of the current carbon burden of 305 gigatons.

The Wallacea Trust is funding a demonstration project covering 100ha on Buton Island, Indonesia, where farmers adjacent to a nature reserve will be given annual payments to reforest their unused land, maintain the growing forest and also prevent access over their land for illegal loggers and hunters entering the nature reserve. An online carbon emissions calculator will be used to estimate the total emissions from international flights used to join our expeditions, and a sum based on $10 per ton added to the invoices of each of our participants. Participants will have the option of opting out of this payment, but otherwise 100% of this money will be paid to the Wallacea Trust and used for the reforestation scheme in Indonesia with payments going directly to poor local farmers, meaning they wil have a substantial community benefit as well as supporting reforestation.

If this project can be shown to be successful over the initial 100 hectares, it will be scaled up locally within Indonesia and then launched at other Opwall sites around the world.


Wallace House, Old Bolingbroke, Spilsby, Lincolnshire PE23 4EX, UK
| +44 (0) 1790 763194 | info@opwall.com