While few would argue that Carbon offsets are a perfect system, our belief is that with carefully chosen projects and partners they are a powerful tool to help conserve the beautiful cultures and unique environment that we bring you to experience. An example of excellent local partners is Health in Harmony along with ASRI.
Health in Harmony believes that to flourish a community first needs to be healthy. Of course, to be healthy that community needs to have a healthy environment that supports it. This is where it gets a little tricky so to help make the system clear let’s use an example that is very relevant to us at SeaTrek.
As you may know one of our classic cruise additions is to add a river cruise in Kalimantan (Borneo) that lets you view (at a respectful distance) our very close cousins the Orangutans in their habitat. I am sure you have all heard of the threat that these amazing animals are under due to the loss of their habitat the lush forests of Kalimantan. What you may not have heard as much about is how those degraded forests have a health effect on the humans that have lived in close harmony with the forest for centuries. The cutting of the forest causes the area to dry and people suffer from the increased fires causing respiratory disease but also because the forest has been their traditional source of food for generations. Orangutans also suffer and have fewer options of adapting than humans do.
Yes really, there is some good news for Orangutans in the southern area of Kalimantan. Their habitat is being restored by Illegal loggers. We do not blame you if that last statement didn’t make sense. But here is how it works. The local people know that a healthy forest is what keeps them healthy. However, they are often put in the situation where they need to have cash for medical bills for their children or elders. As you might expect in a forest economy there are not many options for quick cash other than to cut down trees and sell them. This is where Health in Harmony stepped in and carefully listened to the issues that the local people have. They learned that the local people do not want to cut down the forest that keeps them alive but given the desire to keep a loved one alive they are left little choice but to cut the forest.
Here is the great part! What if there was a way to help the loggers pay their health care bills by planting the forest instead of cutting the forest. The very cool thing is there is! The tool is call Carbon Offsets. Health in Harmony in collaboration with their local partner ASRI have created a system where people who would like to offset their carbon use can purchase the planting of trees in this sensitive habitat. So where do the trees come from? Now the great part! The ex-loggers grow them and because of the pricing and sales structure that has been created they can be traded for health care credits at the local clinics. So, by paying their hospital bills with trees the forest gets healthier and both the local people and the Orangutans have a healthy place to live. How cool is that? It is all made possible by Carbon Offsets.
So what has been made possible by carbon offsets is a system that allows us all to help orangutans and help people at the same time. That is the kind of win win system they we love to support.