Did you know that over 70% of Planeterra’s project partners invest a percentage of their profits into environmental protection ensuring income from travel positively impacts local conservation efforts?
Around the world, communities are working to protect their surrounding ecosystem which serves as both a resource and a home. Planeterra believes that tourism should help improve environmental well-being for the benefit of communities instead of degrading or misusing their natural resources.
Responsible tourism has proven to have the potential to support conservation efforts, mainly by creating awareness and providing communities with resources, helping them to move away from engaging in environmentally-destructive activities such as logging or illegal hunting just because they cannot find other means to survive.
Planeterra supports programs that positively impact their communities by conserving the natural environment for future generations to enjoy, such as our program with Soa Zara.
Soa Zara seeks to protect Madagascar’s natural environment while empowering its people, and the result is the reforestation of the area around Ranohira. They work with the local community on a number of environmental initiatives, such as the “energy tree” project, which encourages locals to grow and use trees solely for the purpose of firewood and charcoal (like fast-growing acacia and eucalyptus) and to discourage the cutting of forests. This will lead to a renewal of habitat for species like endangered lemurs, and also expand the current ecosystem within Isalo National Park.
Planeterra has partnered with Soa Zara on a tree-planting activity for travellers staying at the ITC Lodge. They also create awareness by giving visitors the chance to learn about this reforestation project.
Along with this steady stream of income from the tree planting experience, we are also helping to support Soa Zara’s current washbasin project to protect the nearby river from pollution. For this, they work with the local women’s cooperative, the goal is to create a washbasin station and water filtration system in Ranohira, which will allow the community to do their laundry in a safe environment without polluting nearby water systems.
Another interesting environmental initiative is Mi Cafecito, a tourism and agriculture co-op in Costa Rica. They have used the production of delicious organic coffee, amongst other local root vegetables and cacao, to create employment opportunities as well as connect local farmers and artisans with a market to sell their products.
Planeterra supported the development of the Mi Cafecito program, which includes a coffee tour and a meal experience at their on-site restaurant, and other related tourism services in the area. Hosting travellers has been an opportunity to make their business sustainable.
Over the years the cooperative has obtained several certifications, all of them showing their commitment to improving the environment, taking care of the land, using organic fertilizers, supporting farmers and fostering entrepreneurship.
Like Soa Zara and Mi Cafecito, there are many community tourism businesses working to protect the environment, however, COVID-19 made it difficult for them to have the necessary resources and facilities to continue hosting travellers.
This is the case of Osmose, a non-governmental organization dedicated to the environmental preservation and the socio-economic development of the Prek Toal area, located in the Tonle Sap UNESCO Biosphere reserve in Cambodia. They created several floating structures: a Saray water hyacinth handicraft workshop, an environmental education school, and a community restaurant all connected by a floating bridge to welcome travellers, but they need maintenance and repairs.
Having no income from tourism due to COVID-19, they had to use their savings for emergencies and there was not enough left to pay to repair the floating structures. Planeterra has supported the renovation of some of the various platforms. However, the community is in need of additional resources to complete these repairs so that it is safer for staff and visitors to the area.
Part of building a sustainable future for all includes being mindful of the decisions we make today. We support communities by providing the mentorship, training, and skills they need, in addition to facilitating the market connection for their projects to be successful.
We want to continue giving them the tools to protect the places they call home and that we all love to visit. If you’d like to support our work, consider donating to Planeterra today.