A FURNESS environmentalist is set to travel 6,000 miles from Central America to Chile - on a bamboo bicycle that she made herself.

Ulverston's Dr Kate Rawles, a former lecturer in Outdoor Studies at the University of Cumbria, will be cycling from Costa Rica to Cape Horn to raise awareness about biodiversity.

The 53-year-old will be leaving by cargo ship on December 4, embarking on a year long adventure that will see her follow the spine of the Andes, riding passes that will take her over 15,000 feet.

"I think as a society we have sort of got climate change," said Dr Rawles. "We're not doing enough about it but we understand it now. We hear a lot less about biodiversity even though that's every bit as important."

Biodiversity is the diversity of all forms of life - from the genetics within species to habitats.

Over the course of her journey Dr Rawles will be meeting with those engaged in biodiversity projects as well as seizing the opportunity to have spontaneous conversations with local people about the topic.

"Costa Rica is number one in the 'Happy Planet Index' of high quality human lives and low environmental impact," Dr Rawles said. "It has the greatest density of species of anywhere in the world, and its government has invested hugely in protecting the country's biodiversity.

"As a result it has a thriving eco-tourism industry. It also produces 99 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources!"

This is not the first time that Dr Rawles has gone on this sort of adventure. In June 2006, she set out to cycle 4,553 miles from Texas to Alaska - a journey that she went on to recount in a book called 'The Carbon Cycle.'

This time, however, she will be riding a bike that has been made from bamboo grown in the Eden Project in Cornwall. She made it herself with the help of the Bamboo Bicycle Club in London.

"The difference this time is that it's longer than I have been before," she said "I am going to slow it right down. I am taking a year out to do this to visit lots of projects.

"The main challenge is to make the most of the adventure as a piece of campaigning."

Dr Rawles will be speaking about her upcoming journey at the Ulverston Green Party AGM on November 7 in Natterjacks café, Ulverston, starting at 8pm.