||It is an inescapable fact that travel involves the burning of fossil fuels and leads to the emission of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2). Where we can, Aqua-Firma promotes low impact travel which is why we favour sailing yachts, canoeing, kayaking and rafting over motorised transport.
As a company, Aqua-Firma is committed to being Carbon and Biodiversity Positive. Our first step towards achieving this is to minimise the CO2 emissions related to corporate travel, office heating etc. We also commit to offset in some way the carbon emissions of all of our clients' polar voyages and flights to the polar regions if booked through us; and contribute to rainforest protection with everyone who visits the forests of Ecuador and Peru with us.
To combine our interests in offsetting carbon emissions and to protect biodiversity, we set up a Rainforest4Climate Fund. This was initiated when Aqua-Firma Director, Ralph Pannell, was working part of his time with the UK charity, Rainforest Concern. The aim of the fund is to help achieve permanent protection of rainforest for which, without the Fund's donations, would not be protected against deforestation. With each relevant booking, Aqua-Firma adds to the Fund which can amount to as much as £50 for some of our polar voyages, which clients often choose to match. This figure is higher if clients book flights with us.
In January 2015, Aqua-Firma committed to fund the cost of establishing 1,000 acres of a 74,816 acre protected area of lowland tropical forest in northern Madagascar.
The forest areas targeted have some particularly important species to protect. Largest of all is the Indri Lemur. Of 105 species and sub species of lemur which exist, the Indri is the largest but its home range has been shrunk hugely through deforestation. The main Mangabe Reserve of this project will protect the largest as yet unprotected fragments of its habitat.
A small but very colourful beneficiary of this project will be the Golden Mantella Frog. This frog has the same striking colouration of Costa Rica's Golden Toad which became extinct, probably due to local climate caused by deforestation. Species do disappear forever, which is why the Mangabe Reserve, which will protect 60% of the Golden Mantella Frog's remaining habitat, is so important.
Other species this project will protect include Madagascar's apex predator, the Fossa; the slightly spooky looking Aye-Aye nocturnal lemur; the critically endangered Diademed Sifaka lemur; the Tarzan Chameleon, Madagascan Fruit Bat and the Madagascan Flying Fox whose wing span can reach 1.25m.
Funding towards this project is particularly vital because if our partner, the Rainforest Trust, do not have the funds and means in place to protect this area by May 2015, then the Malagasy government is prepared to open this precious habitat to mining, setting the stage for its destruction. For details about how you can help, please visit the Rainforest Trust's Madagascar Indri Rainforest project summary.
The Peruvian Amazon
In January 2015, Aqua-Firma committed to fund the creation of a 10,000 acre protected forest reserve within a proposed 5.9 million acres of national park, national reserve and 57 community owned territories which will act as a buffer zone to the centrally protected areas.
This Rainforest Trust project is deep in Peruvian wilderness - the very heart of its wild Amazon. The area contains vast areas of pristine rainforest, uncontacted tribes, wild rivers and extinct volcanoes peaking through unbroken forest spreading far beyond the horizon. Areas like this are critical for providing a wild home for large Amazon mammals such as Jaguars, Pumas, the South American tapir and herds of White-Lipped and Collared Peccary who need home ranges of up to 200km2.
Of particular interest to Aqua-Firma is a highly elusive monkey which provided the reason for Aqua-Firma Director, Ralph Pannell's, first expedition to the Amazon. Before the expedition, the Goeldi Monkey was not proven to exist in Ecuador. The Goeldi is certainly an inhabitant of this project area, as well as the 'English Gin Drinker': the Uakari monkey, who owes its nickname to its pink hairless head.
The Rainforest Trust has raised US$1.62 million out of a target US$2.99 million it needs to create and protect this 5.9 million acre reserve. Per acre, this is very cost effective conservation, protecting this forest long term against the threat of illegal logging, oil and mining development, and deforestation which is inevitable if a road is built through it. To find out more and how you can help, please visit the Rainforest Trust Peru Sierra del Divisor project summary.
The Choco-Andean Rainforest Corridor Project in Ecuador
The Rainforest4Climate fund has committed £10,000 towards Rainforest Concern's Choco-Andean Rainforest Corridor Project in Western Ecuador. Since 1988, Rainforest Concern has managed to purchase for permanent protection thousands of acres of forest in western Ecuador which will eventually connect two pre-existing protected areas in Ecuador with a larger area now protected in Colombia. These corridors will help to reduce the isolation of species such as Spectacled Bears, Tayra, Hummingbirds, Toucans, bright orange Cock-of-the-Rocks and more. Whilst Colombia's Choco region retains about 80% forest cover, Ecuador has lost more than 90% of its western forests, so this project is vital in protecting what is left.
Working with Local Communities
Whilst forest area, biodiversity value and level of threat are key criteria on which we judge which projects we support, the sustainability of a project is another key criteria. Working effectively with local communities is essential, both in terms of education and helping them to find profitable ways to co-exist alongside protected habitat. There are many ways a conservation project can do this, of which ecotourism is but one. All of the projects we have supported so far have community education and sustainable development deeply entrenched within their strategies for success.
Conservation in Action Journeys
If you would like to see some of the projects Aqua-Firma helps to support, please Contact Us and we will be able to provide with both a fascinating insight into rainforest conservation, expert assistance in seeing and learning about its wildlife and an insight you won't forget into forces which will dictate the future of our world. By visiting, we will also be helping to support the ongoing protection of the areas you visit, the wildlife and people who live there.
Aqua-Firma is able to support these projects because of the people who choose to travel with us. We hope you will join us (again) soon.