How Conservation International Used Virtual Reality to Overcome Obstacles

Maureen McCarty, Director, Marketing, Conservation International

Our oceans are under severe threat. Overfishing and dam-aging fishing practices are causing the destruction of coastal habitats at an alarming rate. 75% of coral reefs—vital fish spawning grounds and barriers against storms—are in danger of dissolving or dying. Rivers are filled with dead zones, places in the sea where nothing can live because chemicals promote the growth of harmful plants that suck up oxygen.

The best way to inspire policymakers, business leaders and citizens to engage and invest in conservation was to take them on a site visit to experience these worlds. Since that’s costly and complex, our reach was limited.

With virtual reality, though, we’re able to transport people in a way that’s much more accessible and cost-effective.

One of Conservation International’s (CI) most successful restoration projects took place in a remote location in Indonesia called Bird’s Head Seascape. From the U.S. east coast it takes four flights, one boat ride and more than 40 hours to travel there. The region covers an area the size of Great Britain.

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