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our commitment to sustainability

Our commitment to Sustainability

As a travel provider, we are committed to the enjoyment and satisfaction of our travellers. But our primary mission is always to save endangered animals and their habitats. Our main way of doing this is by only offering Conservation Tourism experiences that directly help to protect and restore nature in the destination. But we go beyond that. We follow a Nature Positive Tourism approach – as promoted by the World Travel & Tourism Council and our partners at Animondial (experts on animal and nature protection in tourism). Our commitment to sustainability  means that we are careful to reduce all our impacts on the environment, as well as supporting biodiversity.

Sustainability in tourism

Sustainability has been a big issue in tourism for many years. If pursued irresponsibly, tourism can do a lot of damage to local environments and communities. Efforts to reduce this tend to focus on high-profile issues like carbon emissions and plastic waste. Increasingly, though, the industry is responding to some of the other problems it may contribute to, such as over-use of water and trade in rare plants and animals.

Different types of tourism business have different impacts. For hotels and restaurants, sourcing of food and drink can be a major impact that needs to be addressed. For tour guides, ensuring that natural areas are never damaged or exploited is essential. This is why we make sure that all the operators we work with on the ground are committed to sustainability and nature protection in whatever they do.

Sustainability in the destination

Of course, all our on-the-ground partners are actively involved in conservation work, so you would expect them to be on top of these issues. And they are. For example, the accommodation on our Wild Elephant Safari is moving over to entirely renewable energy, having already installed a solar system at its restaurant. It also has a state-of-the-art ‘reverse osmosis’ water purification system, which makes the local water supply fit for drinking and saves on piles of plastic bottles.

The fully-trained guides on our Borneo Rainforest Trek also run a local wildlife group. They are not only experienced in low-impact trekking but also in rescuing injured animals and returning them to the wild. Meanwhile, volunteers on our Perhentian Islands Turtle project all receive training on how to reduce their environmental impacts while travelling and even take part in weekly beach cleanups to leave the island tidier than when they arrive.

In addition to these considerations, we promote a plant-based diet on all our trips (although meat-eaters are also accommodated!). Our founder is a lifelong vegetarian and we make sure that vegetarian and vegan options are available everywhere we go. The United Nations advises that plant-based foods not only generate less carbon than meat, they can also “support the preservation of biodiversity and planetary health”.

Sustainability at home

However, our responsibilities don’t end with our trips. Day-to-day business operations also have consequences for the environment. As a small, agile business our direct impacts may be small … but that doesn’t mean we can afford to ignore them!

Our business has deliberately been set up to have a low impact. Our small team works from home, meeting frequently online rather than in person. This cuts down on our overheads, and also power use and commuter travel. We are committed environmentalists and recycle as much of our office material as possible – although our anti-printing policy means we hardly use any paper or ink cartridges anyway. We also purchase second-hand items for business use whenever we can.

This commitment extends into all of our business expenses. We use renewable energy suppliers at home and are careful about turning off lights and heating when they aren’t needed. Even our website is eco-friendly! We use Krystal web hosting, which is powered by 100% green energy. They are also a certified B-Corp (‘benefit corporation’) and have pledged to protect, restore and plant one billion trees by 2030!

The carbon challenge

The operational impact that we have most trouble managing is international travel. As a European-based company working with multiple partners in Malaysia and Indonesia, some long-haul airplane flights are unavoidable. Naturally we minimise these, making the most of each business trip and taking as few as possible over the year. When we do have to fly, however, we make sure that we offset all the carbon emitted by the journey. But we don’t use just any offsets.

We know that carbon offset schemes can be controversial, and some of the biggest ones have come in for a lot of criticism. We follow two key principles to ensure that we only contribute to the most reliable and impactful projects. The first of these is to give direct to the project, without any broker or agent in the middle. The second is to support activities that involve long-term nature restoration, benefitting biodiversity as well as climate.

We tick both these boxes by supporting tree planting through APE Malaysia, our partners on our Borneo Wild Habitat Restoration volunteer experience. Every six months we pay for them to plant native trees in the Lower Kingabatangan Wildlife Reserve to restore this degraded forest and re-establish a vital habitat corridor. So, as well as reliably offsetting our carbon we provide additional benefits for nature.

Sustainability and beyond

We aim to do more than be sustainable. Our goal is to give back to the world more than we take from it. But we can only achieve this by ensuring that everything we do has as little negative impact as possible. By making all our activities are as sustainable as we can, we keep our footprint small. This is crucial if we are to realistically balance out any remaining impacts … and go beyond!


Borneo wildlife holidays

In her social enterprise Biodiversity Business, Barbara combines her lifelong experience in marketing communications with her passion for animals. Her mission is Communication for Conservation: saving endangered species and their habitats.

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