What is the Difference Between Friends of Wallacea and Opwall?
Friends of Wallacea (FOW) and Operation Wallacea (Opwall) are sister organisations from opposite sides of the globe working on wildlife conservation from slightly different angles. Both organisations work in tandem to facilitate international travel to biodiverse regions while prioritising the benefits to local communities, to ensure long-term conservation success. While we both focus on wildlife conservation, we have different approaches to achieving this goal.
Who we are: FOW vs. Opwall
Opwall was established in 1995 and is a British conservation research organisation that connects academic researchers and student volunteers to hands-on biology field research projects. Opwall uses a volunteer-funded model meaning these projects do not face the financial restrictions that constrained grant funding put on traditional academic research. Student volunteers gain field experience by contributing to long term data collection, which helps protect these unique areas.
Friends of Wallacea is based in the U.S and began operations in December 2019. Our approach to wildlife conservation is through ecotourism that supports the protection of vulnerable ecosystems by partnering with local organisations and Indigenous communities. We connect international travellers to community-run tourism operations involved in wildlife conservation. This relation guarantees a unique experience for tourists while connecting income directly to local communities. We also guarantee ethical spending of your tourism dollars because all of our tours are locally-owned.
What We Do
Operation Wallacea’s expeditions involve hands-on wildlife research. Volunteers led by specialist teams collect biological data through monitoring surveys including mist-netting, camera trapping and visual sampling surveys. These are interactive trips tailored for students to gain field experience and valuable networking opportunities with ecologists, scientists and other specialists while collecting data for scientific publication. Opwall’s research season is between June and August every year with individual expeditions running between 2-6 weeks. Opwall’s study sites can act as long term research projects for the host country. The data generated is available for other projects such as postgraduate research and even creating protected areas.
Friends of Wallacea approaches wildlife conservation using ecotourism to protect and promote the wildlife and culture of each travel site. We collaborate with local tour operators committed to conservation and channel international tourists and volunteers to unique destinations to experience these places through the local lens. This relationship directly supports community development for our local partners because tour packages and volunteer placements are 100% community-run. These expeditions are people-centred and a source of year-round income to the communities in which we operate. This focus is important because tourism income reduces the reliance on agriculture and extractive industrial activity such as mining and timber.
Sites Where We Operate
Opwall has 14 research sites around the world for university and school expeditions. These sites are active from June to August each year.
FOW has tours available in Romania and Croatia and will soon be launching in Ecuador, Indonesia, Guyana, South Africa, and other locations. Volunteer placements will soon be available at these sites, too. Friends of Wallacea was originally founded to help Opwall partners create sustainable tourism year-round, even when no Opwall expeditions are happening.
COVID-19 pandemic plays a crucial role in determining the availability of future tours with us. However, we are working hard to bring them to you. Leave your email here for more information on when our tours will launch again in 2021.