ISV and the Millennium Development Goals – Volunteering to Ensure Environmental Sustainability

by Narelle Webber on Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) were developed in 2000, and have 8 major goals for sustainable development.  In July 2015, the United Nations released their final report on the achievements made toward reaching these goals. The 7th goal, Ensuring Environmental Sustainability, has been a core component of ISV’s volunteer programs, and an emphasis of our responsible travel ethics for the adventure tour.

Naitve Nature

Deforestation remains one of the world’s greatest threats to sustainability. Ensuring environmental sustainability is one of the core components of the ISV program. (c) ISV

Deforestation remains a significant threat to ensuring environmental sustainability. According to the report, p8, in 2010, “an estimated 5.2 million hectares of forest were lost, which is an area about the size of Costa Rica.”

I wanted to share with you some practical examples from this season (2015) of how ISV volunteers are taking part in this global initiative to combat deforestation!


ISV volunteers planting a variety of species including Black Wattle, Black Wood, Tea Tree and Sheoak to link patches of habitat as part of the South West Biolinks Project in Australia. (c) ISV

The majority of Australian projects are focused on habitat restoration. In practice, this includes removing invasive species and planting a diverse range of native plants. While the ISV conservation project is two weeks, our volunteers’ efforts are part of much bigger restoration and management plans.

This season across Australia, ISV volunteers have spent a combined total of 3,000 hours planting over 45,000 trees! Well done ISV volunteers. (c) ISV

For example, this season ISV volunteers hosted by
Conservation Volunteers Australia in the state of Victoria supported reforestation projects including the South West Biolinks Project. This six year project aims to create biodiverse carbon sinks in the Glenelg Basin and is one of the most significant environmental projects to be funded in this region for many years. Through these biodiverse plantings, the project is helping to link up large areas of habitat– creating a highway for native wildlife and storing carbon from the atmosphere! Seven ISV volunteers, their ISV Project Leader and CVA Team Leader collectively spent over 430 hours planting almost 6000 trees!

This season across Australia, ISV volunteers have spent a combined total of 3,000 hours planting over 45,000 trees! Our participants are contributing to Australia’s 20 Million Trees program, which commits to planting 20 million trees across Australia by 2020 to deliver real environmental benefits to local environments and reduce the effects of climate change.


Photo 3

ISV volunteers at the Native Nature Kaitoki project site in New Zealand, where over 27,200 plants were planted this season! (c) ISV

Like Australia, all of New Zealand’s projects are focused on habitat restoration and ecosystem regeneration. This season, our volunteers spent time in 9 different project sites across the country. The Native Nature Kaitoki project site, which hosted two ISV teams, planted over 27,200 plants alone! This project, run by the local iwi (traditional owners), incorporates the 3 pillars of sustainability (economic, social and environmental) and has a five year plan to plant 160,000 Manuka trees to restore the ecosystem to its natural state, while providing a source of income to the local people in the form of native honey. In New Zealand this season a total of 55,769 trees, shrubs and other plants were planted by ISV volunteers and a further 11,383 plants were propagated!



ISV volunteers helping to restore endangered mangroves on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica by collecting seedlings. (c) ISV

Mangroves are important ecosystems and are threatened internationally due to coastal development. On the Pacific Coast this year ISV volunteers have been helping restore this critical environment by spending hundreds of hours collecting “propagules” (mangrove seedlings) and seeds for the mangrove nursery:  876 mangrove seedlings were planted and 108 red mangrove plants relocated.



Participants in the Dominican Republic planting over 1,500 native pine trees in the fire damaged mountains of Constanza. (c) ISV

After a significant wild fire in the mountains of Constanza in the Dominican Republic, many trees and plants were charred and damaged. While the primary project goals were focused on community development and children’s health and language education, ISV volunteers also had the chance to work with to plant over 1,500 new native pine trees to help with this issue.

There are many other examples but those were just a few related to our deforestation efforts. A huge THANKS to our volunteers for their passion and commitment – without you, ISV doesn’t exist and these small but meaningful achievements wouldn’t occur. Also, a big thanks to ISV’s staff who work tirelessly to facilitate meaningful volunteer projects with our dedicated local project partners globally.

I strongly encourage readers to download the historic MDG 2015 report here, and to try and digest first 10 pages at least, which provide an overview of the progress made toward each of the goals. I’m humbled to know that ISV is a part of this positive change, but remember – many challenges still lie ahead to protect our planet and ensure a more equitable and brighter future for all humanity.

To learn more about ISV, our responsible travel principles and volunteer projects please visit our website at

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