Ethical and Ecotourism projects

As the first industry in the world, tourism generates significant quantities of greenhouse gas emissions through a number of induced trips around the world.
To make tourism activity "more environmentally responsible", tour operators, travel agencies, transport companies, can participate in our offset CO2 and good environmental practices programs.

 

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The example of our partner : SURTREK Tour Operator

 

Vitalideas has signed an agreement with one of its Partners: Surtrek Tour Operator, for the implementation of Good Environmental and Social Practices in “Las Cascadas Jungle Lodge”, a process being carried out since October 2008.

cascadas Las Cascadas Jungle Lodge is located in the Community of Cajabamba II, in the canton of Santa Clara, Province of Pastaza, Ecuador, at the beginning of the Amazon Jungle. Las Cascadas received its name from the waterfalls located on the territory of the Jungle Lodge. The most spectacular of them is an approximately 35-meter high waterfall, which falls down into a semicircular steep waste similar to an amphitheater that can be used as a wonderful bath pool in the middle of the unaffected rainforest, listening to the birds and feeling tropical breeze. The Lodge has a property of 300 hectares of secondary forests and untouched primary forests.

 

Implementation of good environmental practices

The main objective of this agreement is to implement good practices to avoid that tourism operations in Cajabamba II affect natural habitat, to promote the recuperation of secondary forests and the conservation of primary forests. Moreover, it stimulates the support of local communities to give an incentive to sustainable development based on environmental friendly alternatives.

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With the support of Vitalideas, Las Cascadas Jungle Lodge received the SMART VOYAGER Certification in "Conservation and Development" in March 2009 and February 2010. Smart Voyager is a sustainable tourism program in South America, which aims to reduce environmental impacts that a tourism operation might cause; under strict environmental, social and security norms. Las Cascadas Jungle Lodge meets a set of conservation standards for protecting the environment, wildlife and the well being of workers and local communities. This certification is awarded by the independent Ecuadorian NGO Conservación y Desarrollo(Conservation and Development)

 

CO2 compensation from SURTREK clients travelling by plane or cruises

Keenly aware of the existing challenges to the environment, Surtrek also care about the long-term conservation of South America’s touristic riches, such as nature and culture. Which is why the company is committed to living up to his eco-responsibility of addressing global warming.

Therefore, to compensate for the unavoidable emissions created by the clients’ travels, Surtrek and its environmentalist partner (Vitalideas) are engaged in reforestation efforts, the protection of primary forests, and community development. Towards these aims, Surtrek ask that each passenger – as a part of their trip – purchase a small number of “carbon credits” to offset their travel by plane and/or cruise ship. In this way, they can participate in financing the carbon offsetting projects organized by Vitalideas.

This principle of “carbon neutrality” comes from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

Importantly, carbon offsetting does not mean the right to pollute; it must also be accompanied by efforts to reduce emissions and implement alternative solutions. Therefore, Surtrek offers clients sustainable trips with rigorous criteria for conserving nature and protecting workers, their families and local communities.

  • How is compensation calculated?

Using an algorithm developed by the Myclimate Foundation, Surtrek can calculate the amount of carbon produced by any given trip. Consequently, sales representatives can know precisely how much CO2 emissions will be generated by a client’s travel by plane or boat. With this information, the price of their trip can be adjusted.

Emissions of CO2 are expressed in tons, which are not easy for most people to conceptualize. Therefore, Vitalideas has developed for Surtrek a table to express these weights in common measures, which allow people to better understand the impacts.

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NOTE: A one-week tour that includes air and cruise-ship travel represents an average impact of between 1.5 and 4 tons of carbon per person.

To compensate for the final impact, Surtrek determined a standard remediation cost per ton of CO2 as being $8.64 USD. This price allows for the full funding of actions necessary to offset the impact of one ton of CO2.

  • Is it expensive?

With Surtrek, the cost of carbon offsetting is always less than 1% of the total price of any trip. This negligible cost has important and positive long-term consequences.

  • Where do the financial contributions of our clients go?

For assuring the transparency of the mechanism, the full amount of a client’s contribution is provided to the Rainforest Foundation in Pastaza, Ecuador, which buys tracts of rainforest land in the Ecuadorian Amazon region and then makes them protected areas. Subsequently, acting in cooperation with Vitalideas, sustainable carbon offsetting and community development projects are created in these areas.

  • What are these carbon-offsetting projects?
  1. Reforestation

The Rainforest Foundation, working with Vitalideas, is in direct contact with the beneficiary community: Cajabamba II (located in Santa Clara Canton, in eastern Ecuador’s Pastaza Province). Working with this Amazonian rainforest community, measures are taken to offset carbon emission through the creation of CO2 reservoirs known as “carbon sinks.”

  1. Acquisition and protection of land and inclusion of landlords in forestall protection programs

Ecuador is one of the most biologically diverse countries on the planet with the greatest amount of plant and animal species per km2. Unfortunately, the deforestation rate of 1.7% does not envisage a long-term conservation of this unique heritage. The protection of forestall spaces is a way to conserve this biodiversity while countering deforestation and the carbon imbalance in the atmosphere.

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