With all the recent media coverage about Brazil’s burning rainforest, polar ice melt and the repeated storms caused by global warming everyone is concerned for our planet’s future. Luckily you don’t have to be an eco-warrior to make the many small changes and take the actions that in total help people and help the planet.

For many in the west, the front lines of the battle seem far away. For instance, much of the world’s endangered flora and fauna only remain in places like Africa, South America and Southeast Asia.

A global issue that is closely related to environmental concern is that of world poverty. As with large scale habitat destruction and species extinction, often the most serious poverty exists in the continents named above.

A new and growing trend offers those of us concerned about world poverty and habitat destruction a solution that impacts both issues. Eco-tourism allows people to experience the wonders of nature and the delights of contact with other cultures, while simultaneously contributing to the solution instead of the problem.

Eco-tourism allows international travelers the chance to explore the world’s remaining pristine and relatively undeveloped habitats in a low-impact way. It is an alternative to large scale multi-national companies that conduct tourism in ways that have negative impacts on the economies and habitats in the countries where they operate.

Instead of commercial class mass travel companies, conscious explorers should make sure the company they go with is owned by the people who traditionally make their living on that land. This preserves their natural heritage and keeps resources local, instead of sent to overseas investment houses and banks that no doubt reinvest the dollars in firms such as logging and rural development, that do more to destroy the environment than save it.

Tanzania is a popular destination for nature lovers around the world. Native owned tourism companies in Tanzania contribute to the eco-tourism economy and “kill two birds with one stone. Despite the unfortunate metaphor, my meaning should be clear. Native owned companies in Tanzania that offer services like safaris and guided wildlife tours help to save precious habitat and precious cultures.

The trend is also known as “community-based tourism”. Sadly, those who are most vulnerable around the world are the first to feel the brunt of environmental degradation and disaster. Deforestation impacts us all, but it hurts the local people most who have traditionally relied on the forest for their living and culture. Native owned companies in Tanzania help to prevent this trend.

Community-based tourism allows the local community to make the decisions around how their traditional resources are used and how much access the land can tolerate.

With smaller community-based companies locals earn living wages and are employed as managers, entrepreneurs, food and service providers and the like. They are more likely to own their businesses—as with food providers—instead of working for an international corporation owned by western shareholders.

Also, going with smaller locally owned companies allows visitors a deeply personal and impactful educational experience. They can learn about new cultures and interact with native people on a personal level. Often these companies will allow visitors to actually live with the local people. This style of travel allows the community to become fully aware of the commercial and social value of their resources, while at the same time preserves and cultivating them. The rich heritage of native people is indeed valuable, and travelers gain much with intimate exposure to it.

There are many locally owned and run eco-tourism companies in Tanzania that offered unequaled experiences for travelers.