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The Kusini Collection

Classic Africa Safaris Goes Carbon Neutral

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Classic Africa is proud to announce that they have offset all of their carbon emissions through 2014. Since 2008, all of our operations are 100% carbon neutral. Classic Africa Safaris was the first tour operator/safari company in Uganda and Rwanda that is carbon neutral and through hard work and education they have significantly reduced their carbon footprint from 2008. For more information on Classic's carbon neutral status, please visit www.ugandacarbon.org

Read on for a great first-hand story from Uganda about working together for carbon neutrality.

 When Beatrice Ahimbisibwe - a widow, single mother and a school teacher living in Western Uganda - first signed the contract agreeing to sell carbon sequestration credits from her small parcel of land, her neighbors thought she was crazy. Ahimbisibwe's neighbors weren't sure what carbon dioxide was, how it was made of where it went, let alone who would want to pay for it. "You're giving away your land for nothing," local residents told her. "One day they'll come and take it."

Although she didn't believe them, Ahimbisibwe admits the reactions of those around her gave her a bit of pause. She decided, nonetheless, to go through with the deal because - as she often instructs her students - she felt protecting the environment was the right thing to do. In June 2003, Ahimbisibwe entered into a contract with Ecotrust, a Ugandan NGO, who, working with a variety of international organizations, agreed to buy Ahimbisibwe's carbon.

"At first," remembers Ahimbisibwe, "We weren't sure what this was all about. We couldn't understand how or why anyone would want to pay us for the air our trees use. For us, carbon was something to do with burning wood and with charcoal."

Ahimbisibwe planted native tress on a hectare of her land and gets regular payments for the carbon sequestered from the trees. Ahimbisibwe is also able to recoup other benefits from the land as long as the trees aren't harmed. She can graze cattle and goats, use or sell any wood pruned from the trees. The most positive benefit for her is that after 15-20 years she is able to cut down the timber and sell it. She explains, "In 20 years I will be retiring from my job as a teacher and the money I get from selling my timber will be very useful to me and my children." In other words, given the limited social security system in Uganda,and considering she is a single mother with little available capital, Beatrice is putting her retirement in the hands of her land and living trees: a sound, if not positively solid - investment decision.

Beatrice Ahimbisibwe is happy with the program. Her trees are growing nicely and she has already received two payments for her land's carbon. With these payments, she has made some upgrades to her home - installed food storage spaces, bought furniture, and otherwise invested in her families future. "Oh, she says, "you should have seen my children's faces when the new sofa came in! They were so happy with the trees and the carbon."

The determined and visionary Ahimbisibwe smiles deeply as she tells the story: "I am so proud," she says, "not only do I use my work as an example when I teach my school children, and not only do I get to talk to and meet people from all over the world, but now my neighbors come and ask me questions about my carbon and my trees. Can you believe I have become a consultant!"

In a short period of time, Ahimbisibwe - with a little help from the world's carbon marketing - has evolved in the eyes of her neighbors; transforming herself from the school teacher with the strange and wacky ideas into the local, and at times, international, carbon consultant.

Story by Ricardo Bayon, courtesy of Classic Africa Safaris.
Photo by Bob Wenrick.