To ensure our research addresses pressing global environmental issues, Earthwatch will preferentially fund projects that fit the focus of one or more of these four research areas:
Climate change poses an enormous challenge to the sustainability of societies and the ecosystems upon which they depend. Earthwatch research examines the growing impact of climate change on habitats and species and the livelihoods that depend on this biodiversity. Equally important is our research which helps to determine how to adapt to and cope with the consequences of climate change through appropriate management to help maintain functional ecosystems. A third focus is examining how to mitigate its effects through a better understanding of the storage of carbon in, for example, forests and organic soils.
Conservation of biodiversity is essential for sustaining global ecosystems that provide the services on which we all rely, including food, water, timber, fibre and medicine. Earthwatch research promotes and supports work on the protection of habitats and species across a range of ecosystems, from those in unspoilt biodiversity centres to multi-use, farmed and forested landscapes. Our purpose is to tackle the challenges of sustainable resource management through finding solutions to issues such as human-wildlife conflict, habitat connectivity, maintaining water supplies and fertile soils, and the particular pressures on small islands, indigenous species and threatened ecosystems.
A great deal of our efforts in the sustainable resource management and climate change priority areas will also apply to understanding the critical issues affecting the health of the coastal seas. These areas are the most productive part of the oceans and yet the most easily damaged as they are closest to land and man's potentially detrimental activities including fishing, fish-farming, oil exploration and production, shipping and its infrastructure and the pollutants from the land and estuary-based industries. Earthwatch research is trying to find solutions to impacts on critical species such as turtles, manatees, dolphins, whales, sharks and seabirds. A specific habitat focus is on the health and restoration of coral reefs, sea-grass beds and mangrove forests.
Earthwatch's cultural heritage focus will contribute to a better understanding of human interaction with the environment, both past and present, through assessments of behavioural change, attitudes, adaptation and evolution. Our research examines cultural links to both successful environmental management as well as its degradation. This is achieved through an understanding of the knowledge and practices of communities today as well as investigating the archaeological evidence. These outcomes will help with environmental management strategies and policies at local and national levels, including generally safeguarding cultural heritage.
Earthwatch views these research areas as building blocks for understanding links between the environment and the human population, which can in turn be used to create positive action. Earthwatch will be developing and refining its research area focus in the year ahead shaped by the continuing successes of the huge and highly valued input made by our volunteers and research fellows in our field research projects.
Earthwatch works with its scientists to identify appropriate donors, such as companies, institutions, trusts, foundations and government departments, to lever extra funding for additional activities that strengthen the value and integrity of the research. It also enables the project to disseminate the results more widely and build the capacity of organisations, communities and individuals in the research region.
Earthwatch has long term experience in securing and developing partnerships with potential and existing funders. For example, the Vodafone Group Foundation generously provided a communications technology grant which allowed our Principal Investigators to buy communications equipment to enable activities not previously possible, for example satellite tracking technology which allows lion movements to be tracked in real time.