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Free and Easy Travel With a Conscience

by Community Forests International on July 30, 2013

We live in an amazing world. Absolutely stunning. And for the first time in history, we have the technological ability to access just about any point on the globe on a whim.

At Community Forests International, we were begat of world travel, looking to engage the beauty and wonders of the world’s communities. Experiential travel is paramount in the lives of many youth today, and is helping to build a global generation that understands the interconnections between various communities, cultures and ecosystems. But like anything, this ability to travel the world comes at a price: greenhouse gas emissions from air travel are some of the most potent drivers of climate change. This is something that we at CFI have always been aware, and have never felt great about as our work to fight and adapt to climate change requires flights.

Free and Easy's flight emissions are stored in special places like this meadow oasis high in the hills of Whaelghinbran Farm. This meadow is the ground source of a brook that springs from the hillside in the grassy area pictures above.

Enter Free and Easy Traveler.  We now know that we weren’t alone in our concern. In 2012, we were put in contact (once again through the shared experience of Tree Planting in Northern Canada) with the dynamic team that runs Free and Easy Traveler: a travel company that specialises in sharing some of the planets coolest locales with other travelers. Their trips are unreal: check them out at www.freeandeasytraveler.com.

Free and Easy wanted to support our work at CFI, and wanted to contribute in a meaningful way in making the world a greener place in which to live and travel. Together we came up with a way to not only make the world a – literally – greener place, but to also take responsibility for and offset any contribution Free and Easy’s team leaders make, via their flights, to climate change. By tracking the flights of their team leaders over 1 year, Free and Easy worked with us to quantify the emissions from the flights of their team leaders. At CFI, we identified a parcel of forest land that was slated to be sold and clearcut, stepped in at the 11th hour, protected it with a legal easement that prevents clearcutting, clearing for farming or development, and placed it under careful ecological forest management. As a direct result of Free and Easy’s commitment to offset their flight emissions in this forest, we measured the carbon on the land and ensured that because of our actions more carbon was sequestered and stored in this forest than would have happened otherwise. Free and Easy’s flight emissions, placed securely in the forested landscape of rural New Brunswick at Whaelghinbran Farm, not only fight climate change, but also protect wildlife habitat and create jobs in rural Maritime communities. This is because we do not simply protect this land like a park: we carefully manage it using eco-forestry tools to remain as a part of an important rural economic resource. It’s a climate-change fighting, wildlife habitat supporting, job creating power-house of a conservation effort for the 21st century! Pembans have complete ownership over the nurseries in which their trees are grown. They undertake the tree planting efforts, supported by people like Free and Easy Traveler.

Free and Easy didn’t stop there. They wanted to make sure that each of their customers knew they were committed to improving the global environment, and as such undertook a tree planting campaign on two continents. Trees were planted in rural Tanzania and New Brunswick to restore degraded habitats. As they grow, these trees will restore degraded watercourses and provide the shade in which soil will form and food producing crops can be grown. Free and Easy Traveler is providing a path forward for all sorts of businesses. They are recognising the problem of climate change, recognising the part they play in the emissions cycle, and are taking direct action to undo their impact. By supporting intelligent carbon capture and storage via forest restoration and management, they are showing how anyone, anywhere, can make sure they are not contributing to climate change. We’re excited at CFI to be sharing a world with people like Free and Easy. Keep watch for what comes next.  

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