Green your future

2010-02-20 00:00

A TOURISM company is providing its clients with the opportunity to offset some of their carbon emissions from their long-haul flights, by including the option to “buy a tree” in the itinerary of their tours. Over R400 000 has been raised by Umfulana tours already and they have partnered with local conservation NGO, the Wildlands Conservation Trust, to implement the planting and care of these trees. Trees act as a carbon sink by trapping carbon dio­xide and creating oxygen, and while it is better to try and limit your carbon emissions, choosing to offset if you do travel overseas can make a difference.

Merwin Rabe of Umfulana Tours said they started the carbon offset programme in mid 2007. “Due to the fact that most of our clients fly long-haul, our company felt it was important to offer them this option to offset some of the emissions produced by flying to southern Africa and other destinations abroad.” Trees are planted at the Mkuze Riverine Forest Carbon Sink initiative in the KwaJobe area of northern Zululand, on the north eastern boundaries of to the Mkuze Game Reserve.

Graeme Farley, Wildlands Conservation Trust project manager, said that the 10 000 trees planted and looked after as a result of the Umfulana donation “helps the community by putting money into their pockets but also, importantly, educates them about the environment and the vital importance of trees.”

Said Rabe: “We are a tour company and not a tree planting company. Wildlands is a specialist in conservation and just the partner we needed to fulfil our promise to our clients to really do something to counter the effect their travel has on the environment.”

Thulani Mafuleka is a Wildlands Conservation Trust facilitator, whose job it is to liaise with the landowners in this 30 km stretch of land next to the Mkuze River. Landowners are paid two rand per tree they plant on their land, and Thulani takes note of the number of trees planted, and vi­sits regularly to ensure the trees are nurtured and maintained in order to pay the landowner the quarterly fee of one rand for keeping the tree alive and well.

“Before I did this work, I was cutting trees; I did not know I was destroying an important thing, but Wildlands has opened my eyes and now I am showing the people that trees give shade. Trees are useful to fight against the carbon dioxide that forms above the clouds.”

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