As Earth Month 2019 draws to a close, the Southern Explorations team would like to take this moment to promise you, the traveler, that even when the month-long celebration of our planet is behind us, our commitment to sustainability will always remain a priority as we craft your next Central and South America trip itineraries.
Earth Month (aka April) comes to its conclusion this week. Throughout the month-long celebration of our planet, culminating with Earth Day on April 22, we’ve been talking about the actions being taken by organizations like our partners at the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund, incredible wildlife experiences in well-protected habitats, and consideration of impact in our operations.
And we certainly have not been alone in our sustainability conversations this month. Not by a long shot. It has been heartening to see our partners and competitors alike join us in the always growing chorus of voices who recognize the absolute need for improvements and advancement in sustainable and responsible travel.
We hope we can ask the same of you, no matter where you’re exploring in the world, whether it’s Latin America or beyond. We believe we’ve created a pretty special community of travelers in our near 15 years of operations and it is honestly inspiring to see our travelers and our partners continuously demanding more from us, as well as themselves, when it comes to traveling sustainably.
Of course, it should come as no surprise that people who want rewarding, immersive and fulfilling travel experiences also believe in the need to safeguard and support the environments and communities they explore. A deep appreciation for the incredible destinations and experiences waiting for you out there naturally lends itself to caring deeply about helping to protect those places.
We thank each and every one of you who have taken the opportunity to offset the carbon produced on your trip through our partnership with Sustainable Travel International - a non-profit conservation and development organization with over 10 years of experience in carbon offsetting – that sees proceeds supporting a series of rotating projects throughout Central and South America.
The first such project is the Asorpar Reforestation Project in Colombia, with an estimated annual emission reduction of some 58,000 metrics tons of CO2e. The community-based emission reduction project focuses on the restoration of degraded areas and reforestation in the Orinoquia and Andean regions of the country.
Twenty native tree species have already been planted in the 3,128-acre pilot area, leading to the return of another 117 secondary plant species and a multitude of animals. The project also created habitat for endangered animals such as the mountain tapir, oncilla tiger cat, spectacled bear, and the critically endangered grey-bellied night monkey.
Local communities have also benefited from the socio-economic impacts of this project. About 150 jobs have been created to establish vital alternative livelihoods in land preparation, land planning, seedling propagation, planting and maintenance, forest protection and utilization and ecotourism in regions that have long depended on illegal and destructive activities. By introducing new, ecologically sensitive methods for battling mosquitos, the project is also working to reduce the commonly used practice of poisoning breeding ponds with oil – a practice that negatively affects community health and the local environment.
We’ll be sure to make you aware of all our sustainable travel opportunities as we continue to respond to the challenges and demands in these critical times for our planet. Responsible practices are central to what we do and where we go, so even once the conversation around Earth Month is behind us, we are absolutely committed to moving forward on our sustainability promise to you and the planet.