Corporate Responsibility: Travel partnership aims to save rainforest

Georgina Lock

The World Land Trust has joined forces with Airport Parking and Hotels and responsible travel advice website pickatrail.com for a project that aims to raise more than £20,000 to buy a rainforest reserve in the Amazon basin.

The partnership wants to encourage people who travel by air and use Airport Parking and Hotels to offset their carbon emissions by putting money into the World Land Trust.

Every time a hotel or airport booking with APH is made online through the not-for-profit site pickatrail. com, APH gives 7.5 per cent of that booking to the trust.

The charity hopes that people looking for parking and accommodation on search engines such as Google will be eager to book through pickatrail. com because of its environmental credentials.

John Burton, chief executive of the World Land Trust, said: "Air travel may not be the most environmentally friendly form of transport, but the World Land Trust recognises that even the most environmentally conscious of us do fly from time to time."

At the official launch of the partnership, at the Rainforest Cafe in London's Piccadilly at the end of May, APH handed Burton a cheque for just over £5,400 - the amount raised in the 95 days of the scheme's pilot. This is enough to save 200 acres of endangered rainforest, the size of about 110 football pitches.

Nick Caunter, managing director of APH, said the cause-related marketing initiative would help to assuage people's guilt about travelling by air.

APH usually pays a commission to other affiliates that advertise its services, but in this case it donates to the World Land Trust.

Pickatrail.com's creator is an employee of APH and did not want to be named. But he explained that he comes from an environmentally conscious family and wanted to do something to square his working for a company that is linked to airports.

Burton said he was delighted that pickatrail. com and APH are helping the trust, and said: "This will enable us to purchase another chunk of critically threatened rainforest, with all its orchids, frogs, birds and other wildlife."

MONITOR - Tom Morton, director, Climate Care

We would like to congratulate World Land Trust on the work it is doing to conserve rainforests. Trees are also a good 'hook' to get people engaged with climate change. However, as a tool for offsetting emissions, which this partnership appears to support, the approach has its difficulties.

Rainforests are under threat because of a demand for their products. Putting a fence around a forest will drive demand elsewhere and other forests will be cut down. It is therefore hard to prove there will be cuts in atmospheric carbon.

In offsetting emissions, the focus needs to be on reducing fossil fuel use through sustainable energy projects.

Buying forests to preserve their valuable resources is a good thing - however, if your aim is to offset carbon dioxide emissions, other approaches are more robust.

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