After a successful partnership in the past with Climate Care, with contributions from Nature Travels guests offsetting a total of 785.13 tonnes of CO2, we have recently moved our climate-focused donation programme to Rainforest Concern's Forest Credits scheme.
What is Forest Credits?
Forest Credits is a carbon offset scheme, but one which has a very clear focus and is about much more than just carbon.
Currently the scheme focuses on the protection of one very specific area, the Neblina Reserve in Northwest Ecuador. South America is of course not a region Nature Travels currently offers, though Bob and Sofia from the team have travelled in Ecuador (and loved it), and Niki has travelled extensively in Peru and Bolivia (and loved them!). But the climate emergency is not a local problem, and protecting the forests of South America must play a central part in global climate strategies.
Cloud cover over Neblina. Photo: Rainforest Concern/ Oliver Whaley.
Neblina is an area of threatened cloud forest with very high biodiversity value and is an important watershed for the local population. As a native forest, it is better at storing carbon than a plantation, and while plantations may help to sequester carbon, they can have negative impacts both on local communities and biodiversity.
It is planned that as the programme expands and other suitable areas are identified, reserves will be added in other parts of South and Central America.
The Andean or Spectacled Bear, just one of the endemic species in the Neblina reserve. Photo: Rainforest Concern/ Tashkin Meza.
Why have we chosen to partner with Forest Credits?
Like Nature Travels, Rainforest Concern is a small-scale, personal organisation with a specific focus. This means that the contribution made by Nature Travels guests can make a real difference, even though the total value of donations will of course be lower than for larger companies.
As the scheme is very targeted, it allows us to have a closer relationship with the development of the projects and the benefits your contributions are bringing - keep an eye on the Nature Travels Facebook Page for updates!
Tibouchina lepidota tree in flower in the Neblina reserve. Photo: Rainforest Concern/ Oliver Whaley.
How will my donation be used?
We collate the donations made by our guests and submit them quarterly to Rainforest Concern, receiving a confirmation of the corresponding amount of carbon offset.
Your donations will help to fund all areas of the project, which include:
- Protection of the existing forest area (currently 2,200 hectares). The carbon benefit of actively protecting this reserve against the baseline deforestation rate has been calculated by independent third parties to be just over 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over a 30-year period, a total equivalent to the average annual emissions of around 20,000 people living in the UK.
- Of course, there are huge benefits to preserving this area beyond the sequestering of CO2. Neblina is a biodiversity hotspot, home to endemic species including the Spectacled Bear, Cock of the Rock and Puma. Nearby, 2013 a new species of mammal was discovered, the Olinguito. You can read more about Neblina and its wildlife here.
- Community programmes such as agroforestry are being developed, both to involve and benefit the local community and to provide a buffer zone around the core reserve. Such social benefits are essential, raising awareness and local support, ensuring the long-term survival of the protected forest and stopping deforestation activities simply moving elsewhere.
Puma caught on camera trap in Neblina. Photo: Rainforest Concern.
How much is the donation?
The standard amount is £5 (or €5) per person, which can you opt in to donate when completing your booking form, but you are of course welcome to donate more if you wish - simply mention on your booking form if you would like to give a different amount.
Alternatively, you can donate directly anytime using the calculator on the Forest Credits website or even become a member of Rainforest Concern and help protect valuable forest habitats all over the world!
A trail through the Neblina forest. Photo: Rainforest Concern/ Oliver Whaley.