Sustain­able Travel – Flying

Sustainable travel – what does it actually mean? In the following, you can find practical recommendations on how you can put the sustainable travel plan into practice. In this blog we focus on flying.

Travel Guide
EcoTourism: Ein Fahrrad lehnt in einem Palmenhain an einer Palme

Flying and Sustainable Travel

Sustainable travel – what does that mean? And what about flying in this context? In the wake of growing awareness of climate change, flying is becoming more and more important. One thing is certain: the emissions emitted by flying are harmful to the environment. Should flying therefore be abolished or become so expensive that nobody can fly anymore?

This would certainly be a step in the right direction in terms of reducing emissions. But what happens in countries to which the air traffic goes? In addition to economically strong countries, which live mainly on the export and import of various products, there are also numerous countries and regions whose existence is primarily dependent on tourism, as they have no other or only very underdeveloped economic sectors.

What happens if people do not fly anymore?

If tourism were to decline in those countries, many locals would lose their jobs and thus their source of income which secures livelihood of their families. And what does this mean in the second step for nature conservation and environmental protection?
One consequence is poaching: If a region is particularly known for the occurrence of a certain animal species, this region attracts tourists. Tourism is now creating a new source of income for the local population in addition to existing economic sectors such as agriculture. In order to guarantee tourist visits for the upcoming years, the region must therefore preserve the animal species and its habitat. When it comes to orangutans, for example, the aim of the population working in the tourism industry is to preserve the rainforest, the habitat of the monkeys. Instead of clearing forests to gain more agricultural land or to sell wood, the forest is now being protected.

But what happens if the region is no longer visited by tourists? Even if the population appreciates the animal species and its habitat – nature conservation involves costs and must be financially promoted in order to be able to guarantee protective measures. The financial support would shrink or disappear altogether, together with the safeguards. The forest would now be accessible for poaching and illegal logging. As other economic sectors are more or less missing, these two illegal occupations also provide a source of income for the locals who have lost their jobs due to falling tourist numbers. The habitat of orangutans would continue to shrink and the animals and their home would be exposed to severe threats.

Oekotourismus: Blick aus einem Flugzeug in der Luft
Nachhaltiges Reisen: Blick aus einem Kleinflugzeug auf eine Savannenlandschaft

So is a no-flying-policy actually a good idea?

While abolishing flights would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the calculation is much more complicated than the previous example. In countries where tourism is used successfully and sustainably as a tool for nature and species conservation, the collapse of the tourism industry would be an enormous step backwards: the loss of financial resources, jobs and international attention would destroy the success built up over the past years and with them the existence of unique natural areas and animal species.

What can I do to reduce emissions?

Our team at Natucate is passionate about conservation – yet we are as enthusiastic about travelling as you are about discovering the world. How we want to deal with the topic of "flying" is therefore very important to us. Through regular exchange with our partners we know, which large and small step regarding species conservation and environmental protection were already reached by our projects. On the other hand, we also know how many environmentally harmful emissions are released by flying. So how to act?

You can start by doing one of the following: Instead of several flights per year, you can, for example, limit yourself to only one.
Stay on site longer instead, and

• support local projects
• take advantage of tourism offers of the local population – for example when choosing your accommodation or the restaurant where you go to eat; this way “the money stays at home” and does not migrate to international companies
• choose small accommodation typical of the country instead of large hotel complexes
• try something new and prefer the local cuisine to your usual favourite, because this way you support the local suppliers and the local culture.
• do not buy souvenirs consisting of endangered animal or plant species.

You would like to learn more about Sustainable Travel? Our blogs about Sustainable Travel: Hygiene Products and Sustainable Travel: Zero Waste might be interesting for you as well!

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