Best of 2016: There’s no doubt that 2016 was a strange year – the headlines came in fast and furious delivering surprises and shocks in spades. The effects of Brexit and incoming President Donald Trump’s climate change policies remain to be seen, but there was also good news – California banned plastic grocery bagsPresident Obama permanently banned drilling in the Arctic Ocean, the world’s largest marine reserve was created in Antarctica and four global capital announced they would ban diesel vehicles.

This year the Paris Climate Agreement has been in the limelight and the tiger population actually showed an increase in 2016. Much remains to be done to protect our wildlife and national parks, and there’s no word in the dictionary to sufficiently emphasise how urgent the need is to act on climate change. We hope 2017 sees progression, not regression – and we will continue to share ways in which you can help to do your bit.

For now, here’s remembering this year’s best nature and wildlife stories on Ecophiles. Stories you loved, photos that made you smile, news that cheered all of us. Here’s to more green travel and living in 2017!

ALSO SEE: HOW TO WIN A FREE TRIP TO EXOTIC MOROCCO FOR 2!

Best of 2016: Nature and wildlife

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

We loved this little chap’s feisty expression! One of our most popular and shared stories of the year, the breathtaking Wildlife Photographer of the Year images will make you smile and want to give our wildlife a big cuddly hug!

Best of 2016 Dalmatian pelican, seen here on Lake Kerkini, Greece, is the largest species of pelican in the world. wildlife photography

Photo: Guy Edwardes, UK. The Dalmatian pelican, seen here on Lake Kerkini, Greece

Canada’s national parks through a photographer’s lens

This stunning shot by photographer Geoff Pinkney captures the astonishing beauty of wild Canada’s picture-perfect landscape. See his incredible photos of Canada’s national parks – do you still wonder why people say they want to move to Canada?

canada Lake Louise - Banff National Park, Alberta

Lake Louise. Photo: Geoff Pinkney

Meet the dogs who travel the world with their rescue mom

This woman rescued a puppy and now she travels the world with her two dogs. This aww-inspiring story is truly heart-warming. Animals don’t have a voice and they could do with all the love we can give them.

Julia rescued Lotta and now the two BFFs travel the world with her. Santorini, Greece

Julia rescued Lotta and now the two BFFs travel the world with her

Most Badass Tourism poster of the year

This badass Finland tourism poster put a smile on our faces in a year of political shocks and climate change concerns.Finland badass tourism poster

Bear necessities

This solitary bear sits on the edge of one of the Barter Islands. There is no snow, when at this time of year, there should be. This impacts the local polar bear population… this photo was captured by Patty Waymire who got an honorable mention in the Environment Issues category in Nat Geo’s Photographer of the Year contest. The images are an absolute must-see!

nat geo winner nature photographer of the year polar bear - 1024 x 768

A date with penguins

Our team member Lori Sorrentino’s penguin photos are incredibly heart-warming. She travelled to Patagonia to see these adorable waddlers in the wild. An absolute delight.

Chile Penguins

Photo: Lori Sorrentino

Hang out with Elephants without hurting them

The incredible reaction to our story 6 ways to hang out with Elephants without hurting them really moved us. People pledged to shun elephant rides for life and instead vowed to spend time with these gentle giants by volunteering or visiting an elephant sanctuary. See how you can help.

Watch elephants play at Elephant Nature Park in Thailand

Photo Rickshaw Travel

Say no to tiger selfies!

We teamed up with World Animal Protection US to talk about why tiger selfies are the worst. Globally, wildlife tourism condemns around 550,000 wild animals to appalling cruelty and suffering. We asked you to take action for tigers by signing the petition demanding TripAdvisor end its sale and promotion of cruel wildlife tourist attractions. They eventually stopped selling tickets to cruel animal attractions – that’s when you know every voice counts.

say no to Tiger Selfies

Most unusual lakes around the world

Nature’s miracles never cease to amaze. Our list of unusual lakes around the world is a testament to that fact – pink lakes, jellyfish lakes, hanging lakes, tufa lakes… make room for these on your bucket list!

Jellyfish Lake in Palau

Jellyfish Lake in Palau- Photo by Kashif Pathan-CC via Flickr

Astonishing beaches you won’t believe exist

A cave beach, mineral beach, beach of the cathedrals, black sand beaches, a glass beach… astonishing beaches you won’t believe exist!

Portugal-Benagil Cave, Algarve

Revealed: The secret that will change the way you travel

Our uber-talented team member, photographer Morgan Shidler shared her secret – one secret that will change the way you travel forever. And it will!

cuba

Photo: Morgan Shidler

Rio Olympics opening ceremony goes green

With the Rio Olympics opening ceremony, Brazil showed that a lavish budget was not always a prerequisite to making an impact. With the environmental theme at the heart of the ceremony, each athlete was given a seedling to plant in a new forest in the Deodoro zone. The 12,000 seeds will form an Athlete’s Forest with 208 species, one for each competing delegation.

Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony. Photo: bbc.co.uk

Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony dazzles

The first underwater museum in the Atlantic

Jason deCaires Taylor’s contemporary art museum – an astonishing first of its kind Museo Atlantico – the first underwater museum in the Atlantic Ocean in Europe. Off the coast of Lanzarote, Spain, his latest in a series of projects is designed on a conversational level to create a large scale artificial reef.

How kids protect nature

We asked kids how they protect nature – the answers will not only surprise you but truly inspire you! One of our most popular stories of the year – there’s hope for us yet…

Amelia Whent. Photo: Colette Whent

Europe’s Green Capital – Can it be a model for larger cities?

As time runs out, climate change and sustainability needs to be on top of the agenda for every country. Can Europe’s green capital Ljubljana be a model for larger cities? Inspiring.

Panorama of Ljubljana, Slovenia, Europe.

Panorama of the Slovenian capital Ljubljana at sunset.

Wildlife on the edge of extinction

Many species are disappearing – it’s time to help. It would be a tragic, irreversible loss if magnificent animals like the black rhino, the Sumatran elephant or the Bengal tiger were forever lost to us. We can all do our bit – here’s how to help wildlife on the edge of extinction.

The snow leopard is classified as Endangered Photo: Dingopup via Wikimedia Commons

Ways to Protect the Ocean

Our team member Melissa Hobson shared wonderful ways to protect the ocean even if you’re not a diver. It wasn’t until she became a scuba diver that she realised just how much humans are damaging it. But as Melissa says, you don’t have to be a diver, snorkeller or even a water-lover to play your part. Here are a few things everyone can do to help marine conservation.

sea turtle. how to protect the ocean

Is this ecodesign the future of our workplace?

At Ecophiles, we love sustainable and innovative ecodesign and this urban farm in Japan is truly inspiring. Urban farming is emerging as a powerful alternative -thanks to reduced prices of indoor farming tech. Today there are well over 200 vertical farms operating around the world.

Tokyo Urban Farm

Tokyo Urban Farm

Communities and Ecotourism in Mexico

Just two hours from glitzy Cancún, lies the Zona Maya, a stretch of lush jungle dotted with the ruins of ancient Maya temples. Zona Maya is also home to communities whose languages and traditions predate colonial contact. Twenty five per cent of the population here lives in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.25 a day. One of the most important ecotourism projects in Mexico was established in the Maya Zone: a new ecotourism destination called Maya ka’an. Thanks to this initiative to provide indigenous peoples with ways to make a sustainable living, local people are boosting their livelihoods by sharing their rich heritage with tourists. Story by our partners The Rainforest Alliance.

Zona Maya, Maya Kaan, Mexico

Tackling food waste

Our team member Patricia Convey wrote this fab piece on how to reduce food waste. Worldwide, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is thrown away every year. Imagine what a staggering difference you could make if you followed a few of the simple guidelines Patricia suggests?

how to stop food waste

Spent coffee and tea grounds can be added to compost. Photo: Elias Eliasfalla

Best green travel destinations of 2017

Finally, where will you find your sublime in 2017? With our list of best destinations of 2017, here’s green travel at its purest.

best green travel destinations 2017Tell us your favourite moments of 2016 and share the story on Facebook!