“For us it was an obvious choice”
The Map’s Edge is a Tanzania-based, owner-operated safari company with strong ethical and environmental values. They design professionally guided, tailor-made adventures throughout East Africa, drawing on their exceptional expertise on the ground. Jules Knocker from the Map’s Edge shares with us why they offset with our Yaeda Valley REDD project, run by Carbon Tanzania.
Four of us, already in the safari business, started our company and one of the main building blocks we established right at the beginning was to be as environmentally concerned as was possible in such an industry (and survive). We are very much aware that our business and our lifestyle rely on proper management of the environment and while many of the contributory factors are beyond our control, there are some steps we can take to improve the situation. Carbon offset is one easy mechanism for making a difference as our clients all use long haul and internal flights, they drive and the hotels can have quite heavy carbon footprints. By setting an example, and explaining to all our clients and our guides why we are doing this, we hope to spread the word and encourage others to make their own green choices. You add all these small steps together and you create a big stride.
Carbon off-set is just one of the ‘green’ steps we have chosen to take. We also run a campaign, set up by us, to discourage the use of disposable plastic water bottles and provide all our clients with stainless steel water bottles and bulk drinking water in the cars. We provide information on reducing waste, run our office in the most waste efficient way we can and our town trips are done on public transport rather than with a company car. Our guides are trained to be environmentally sensitive and respectful of the animals/birds and vegetation and we favour accommodations that promote green policies.
I was part of the setup of Responsible Tourism Tanzania and am a member of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators Conservation Subcommittee, as well as having completed the environmental auditor training with Travel Life.
We include a section on our costing invoices that sums up the estimated carbon of the trip. These figures are gleaned from a carbon assessment made for another tourism company that we worked for previously and I was heavily involved in that. The flight information comes from Carbon Tanzania. We have made a calculating table that adds up the various portions: accommodation & cars/international flights/internal flights. Clients can opt out of paying it, but it is automatically included. We understand that this is a rough estimate of carbon so we do not advertise carbon neutral trips.
From our company data I can see that approx 48% of our clients accept our carbon offset contribution, a further 18% already have an offset carbon scheme run by the international tour operator so ours is removed as it would be double offset. Approx 34% ask us to remove the contribution.
We received an award from Carbon Tanzania in April of this year for our carbon offset – approx 650 tonnes in 2013. We were placed first in Tanzania.
Why did you choose to offset with a Plan Vivo certified project?
In a world where there are many schemes that are poorly run, or where too much of the money goes in administration or the carbon trading is run as a money making enterprise and not for the benefit of the environment, it is important to find operations that behave responsibly. Hence a certified project is the way to go.
Which project did you choose to buy from and why?
We do our offsets through Carbon Tanzania – Ecological Initiatives here in Tanzania. For us it was an obvious choice. It is a local company that is making a difference here in Tanzania. They specialise in working with communities and in educating the need for responsible management. Communities do not always grasp the importance of preserving for the future but without their support and contribution, any project would fail. They promote indigenous rights and indigenous tree planting as well as respecting water sources. They have projects that our clients can go and visit and see that their money is making a difference. The people running the project are very active in the environmental scene and do sterling work to lobby and engage with government, international organisations as well as publicizing the issues to the general public.
Are you happy you’ve chosen to buy credits from this project?