National Geographic Ranks Earthwatch Expedition Tour of a Lifetime
The editors of National Geographic Traveler magazine named our Wildlife of the Changing French Pyrenees expedition to its ninth annual “50 Tours of a Lifetime” list. On this singular expedition, team members hike through the mountains of France, guided by a scientist who has worked there for years. They work directly with the animals and plants that live there to discover how climate change is reshaping this wildlife-rich habitat.
Earthwatch's Wildlife in the Changing French Pyrenees expedition ranked as tour of a lifetime by National Geographic Traveler.
How We Made the Cut
According to the editors, building the “50 Tours of a Lifetime” list involved a competitive selection process that reflected the magazine's values. “This year marks the 30th anniversary of National Geographic Traveler, which has always looked at the world through the lens of culture, nature, and history. The tours we selected go beyond destination to add meaning and context,” said Norie Quintos, the executive editor. “They open the mind to new possibilities, new connections, new ways of thinking—all critically important given the world’s complex issues.”
“An Incredible Honor, But A Bigger Responsibility”
“It is an incredible honor, but also a big responsibility,” lead scientist Bernat Claramunt López said of winning this award. “In these times where there's no doubt that both climate and land use changes are affecting the lives of all living organisms on Earth, we are tracking these changes in one of the most affected environments: mountains.”
Claramunt understands the importance of gathering this data, and using it to help governments make better informed decisions. "The many opposing forces acting in these environments (tourism, rural abandonment, biodiversity conservation policies, etc.), pose a challenge to policy makers in these regions," he said. "This expedition aims at providing data to help design proper adapting strategies that will favor both the conservation of alpine biodiversity, and also local development."
Research and Culture Combined
Wildlife of the Changing French Pyrenees gives volunteers a chance to explore this beautiful habitat while collecting valuable data on climate change. Team members weigh and measure small mammals, find tawny owls and other bird species by spotting their nests and listening for their songs, and observe bumblebees as they visit flowering plants. The region also has plenty of cultural draws, including prehistoric cave art and towns and cathedrals that date back to the Middle Ages. “We are going to have an exciting field season,” says Dr. Claramunt López.