In Africa, wildlife tourism makes up 36 percent of the tourism economy, funding organizations like the OL Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya which is home to the last northern white rhinos.
Similarly in South Africa, at the Makuleke Contractual Park located in the northern area of Kruger National Park, the Pafuri Camp provides local employment - it is the largest single employer for 15,000 residents - and delivers conservation results. As recorded in a recent case study, "the community mobilized an anti-poaching force to protect wildlife in the territory. The group has removed a large number of snares from the concession areas, which injure or kill endemic wildlife.The monitoring and surveillance activities of the anti-poaching units have led to the recovery of both herbivore and predator populations.These conservation efforts in turn improve game viewing, which translates to better business for the ecotourism venture." The Makuleke Ecotourism Project was selected as the Equator Prize Winner by the UNDP's Equator Initiative.
Just as the benefits of sustainable tourism are becoming better documented and understood, so are the climate impacts of travel. How to reconcile the two facts - on the one hand travel benefits local communities and environment, on the other hand the carbon dioxide emissions are disrupting the climate and causing dramatic problems? Resolving this conflict and existential danger is at the heart of the Tomorrow's Air collective's desire to promote climate conscious travel education alongside tangible action - helping clean up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it permanently.
Travelers should look for businesses who are making an effort to transform their businesses to be more climate conscious. This can be everything from modifying the types of transportation to getting more energy for their hotels and lodges from renewable sources. Check out the companies in this list. They participated in the Tomorrow's Air Convene event and have taken at least one of the following actions:
Recognize that travel has massive potential as a medium for global change and look to transform it.
As travelers we are curious and caring - we can take decisive action ourselves (see our previous post on climate conscious flights) and through what we learn inspire those around us to continually look for ways to reduce emissions and to contribute to conservation and carbon removal efforts.
Dramatic budget reductions as a result of the pandemic mean staff at local tourism businesses around the world have had to be let go. In Africa where lease agreements between landowners and ecotourism camps are faltering, the absence of travel can have serious consequences for conservation efforts. Forced to find income, landowners who previously leased their land for wildlife tourism are now tempted to repurpose land for grazing or growing crops, or worse, for the extractive industries looking for natural resources.
Travel-related carbon emissions are damaging, but the answer isn’t to stop travel. Instead, stay longer when you travel, make decisions that reduce emissions, and support carbon removal innovations that can help us clean up.