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Green Taxes and Carbon Offsetting

There can be little doubt that something is happening to our climate. In the UK, birds are nesting earlier and many aspects of animal behaviour point towards a warming of the climate. The finger of suspicion is currently pointed at a previously innocuous gas, carbon dioxide. Without a doubt, air travel produces pollution and one of the outcomes of burning aviation fuel is carbon dioxide. All flight tickets include a Green Tax to help stop this pollution &ndash so each time you travel, you are already paying towards mitigating your &lsquo carbon footprint&rsquo .

However, at Ornitholidays we have taken this a step further. We are trying to alleviate even more of the gases we produce in our travels by using a natural soak for the gas &ndash that is trees. Both plants and trees absorb carbon dioxide when they photosynthesize and fix the gas with water to make sugars and life-giving oxygen. We have teamed up with the staff at REGUA (Reserva Ecologica de Guapiaç u) in Brazil to plant a tree for everyone who travels with us each year. REGUA protects one of the last stands of tropical rainforest left in the severely depleted Atlantic Rainforest (Mata Atlantica) in Brazil. REGUA is a nongovernmental organisation with a mission to save the forests of the upper catchment of the Guapiaç u River basin located within the municipality of Cachoeiras de Macacu in Rio de Janeiro State. The majority of the initial funding and direction for the project came from the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust (BART), a UK-based charity. In 1996, however, the REGUA Association was registered under Brazilian law and is now responsible for the management and development of the project. Although BART maintains a close involvement in its management and funding, the Association is now made up of local landowners and members of the local community. Please look at the website at www.regua.co.uk

Scientists estimate that, depending on the soil and climate, a hectare of 1,000 trees can process between five and 10 tons of carbon dioxide each year. The removal of unwanted carbon dioxide is but one benefit of this tree planting. A second is the reforestation of some of the lost tropical forests of this part of south-east Brazil. This Atlantic Forest system has suffered from large-scale logging and the result has been the loss of many birds, plants, mammals and insects species from complex ecosystems. We aim to help with the re-planting of many species of indigenous hardwood to try and make good some of this loss. We are also offering an additional voluntary contribution to be made when paying the deposit for your tour. A space has been left on the booking form for this. We pledge that 100% of the money you donate will go towards the replanting programme. Many schemes adopted by other companies have no regulation and a large chunk (often over 30%) of the donated money is taken to meet running costs. This will NOT be the case with our exciting REGUA project.

A big thank you to all who have made extra contributions so far we have planted many thousands of trees and continue to add more each year. In the photos on the previous page you can see the amazing transformation of a landscape that was almost barren to one that is a haven for birds. The Ornitholidays&rsquo forest is close to this amazing scenery.

We have annual tours to REGUA so you can visit our woodland while you are there.