CO2 Emission compensation for National Park visits

A carbon offset credit is a service that tries to reduce the net carbon emissions of people or organizations by compensating their carbon emissions with measures for absorbing greenhouse gases. A wide variety of offset actions are available; forest planting is the most common, as the new trees very gradually absorb CO2 from the air and convert it to carbon in their trunks. 


But worldwide, far more CO2 gets blasted into the atmosphere from virgin forests being cut down. One of the most effective ways of preventing forests from being cut down is protecting them as national parks and nature reserves. But in order to do so, these forests must produce at least some income.


Assume a tropical forest has about 175 metric tons of Carbon in its trees. The carbon is fixed in the tree trunks, leaves and roots. So, if a hectare of forest gets deforested, the wood may first be used to build houses, furniture or produce paper, but eventually, it will either rot away or be burned and eventually all the carbon of that forest will be converted into CO2. The mass of CO2 is more than 3 times more than that of Carbon, so the 175 tons of carbon will produce more that 500 tons of CO2.


Now, we only believe in durable avoidance of the emission of CO2, if the emission avoidance of carbon dioxide is really permanent. So in our opinion, you can only permanently avoid the emission of CO2 into the air, if you set up an endowment fund that would generate the capital interest from which management costs can be financed permanently. Assuming a 7% return from the endowment fund, it would take about $2,700,000 to prevent 500,000 tons of CO2 to be released into the air, which is about $5 per ton. That is about as much as for the short-term fixation of Carbon through forest plantations, whereas Carbon dioxide emission avoidance through and Adopt-A-Ranger-Endowment fund would be permanent! 


For Latin America, if you come from the USA, your contribution to the CO2 emission from your flight will probably have been about 8000 kg CO2 per person; coming from Europe it will have been around 13,000 kg CO2. For Africa and Asia, it is probably the other way around, but let's average it at somewhere around 10,000kg.


The total release of CO2 from a tropical jungle would be about 500 * 6,000,000 (ha) = 3,000,000,000 kg CO2. It becoming more and more clear that governments are doing more for conservation once they see that national parks actually do attract tourists and that therefore ecotravel actually is the main factor in protecting national parks and forests by going there and spending their tourism dollars/euros to see the parks and reserves.


As an example, we use the case of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, where we have our own lodge. As the average amount of CO2 production from flights to the tropics has been about 10,000 kg, one may argue that the first 300,000 visitors to Cuyabeno may consider their flight fully compensated by visiting Cuyabeno. Under the current level of visitation that will allow for somewhere between 15 - 20 more years of CO2-offset for Trips to tropical and other forests in national parks, including mangroves.


However, this does not apply as much for Savannahs - which only have 5 - 15% effective forest cover - and other protected areas with limited forest such as deserts and non-forested coastal areas.


So, wherever you travel, always try to include a forested national park in your schedule and you may consider your CO2 release adequately compensated!


You think this is not enough?

One of our shareholders is an expert on Forest CO2 emissions contracted by international organizations like the World Bank and the United Nations and he has written this page because this is his professional opinion. But of course you are always free to buy additional Carbon credits, in which case we recommend:


What makes us different from so many other tour operators?

Just look at the quality of our high resolution pictures. We took them all ourselves. We have thousands of high resolution pictures on this website, that you can see enlarged by clicking on them. These pictures show that we have been everywhere in the country of your interest and really know the details. We are professional explorers and biologists with MSc and PhD.


National Parks Tours Worldwide, a social responsibility and conservation company, is a brand name of the World Institute for Conservation & Environment, registered in the Netherlands with headquarters in the USA.


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