This is the second in a monthly blog series about our forest conservation projects in Brazil. This month's blog highlights the extraordinary wildlife present at the Purus Project. We write about some of these amazing animals but hope you will take a few minutes to enjoy the photos!
The Southwestern Amazon, specifically along the Purus River in the State of Acre, Brazil, is home to our Purus Project. This forest conservation project covers approximately 85,714 acres and achieved validation and verification to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and to the Gold Level of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS) for the Project's exceptional biodiversity benefits.
The Purus Project is located within one of the World Wildlife Fund's ecoregions, which represent "the most distinctive examples of biodiversity for a given major habitat type." The Project achieved exceptional biodiversity benefits because during a rapid biodiversity assessment from August to September 2009, at least two endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List were identified at the Purus Project. These endangered flora species are Car-cara (scientific name is Aniba rosaeodora) and Baboonwood (scientific name is Virola surinamensis).
Anecdotal observations of biodiversity on or next to the Purus Project include:
- Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)
- Amazon River Dolphins (Inia geoffrensis)
- Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri sciureus L.)
- Great White Herons (Ardea alba)
|Local Fauna at Purus Project in August 2011 (Photo Credit: Brian McFarland)|
One of the ways the Purus Project monitors biodiversity is by using motion-sensitive cameras to photograph medium-to-large mammals. The motion-sensitive cameras took pictures of a short-eared dog and a jaguar, both considered near threatened by the IUCN Red List. Also captured by the motion-sensitive cameras, are photos of a giant anteater and a lowland tapir, which are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Other wildlife photographed include a puma, otherwise known as a mountain lion, along with an ocelot. Furthermore, the photograph of the short-eared dog is only the second photograph ever taken of a short-eared dog in the State of Acre!
Ocelot Photographed at Purus Project
Short-Eared Dog Photographed at Purus Project
Puma Photographed at Purus Project
Giant Anteater Photographed at Purus Project
Lowland Tapir Photographed at Purus Project
We hope exploring the Purus Project's extraordinary biodiversity has whetted your appetite for more information about our forest conservation projects in Brazil. Next month we are featuring a post about how the Russas and Valparaiso Projects are benefitting local communities.
For over 28 years, Hornblower Cruises & Events has been the premier yacht charter and public dining cruise company in Southern California. With the largest fleet of luxury entertainment yachts in Los Angeles and Orange County, Hornblower prides itself on exceeding expectations with uncompromising quality and exceptional service.
Hornblower joined the Carbonfree® Business Partnership program in 2008 by calculating and offsetting the emissions from their office and charter boat operations at their Newport Beach facilities, which serves the greater Los Angeles region. Through the Carbonfree® Business Partnership, Hornblower supports carbon emission reductions achieved through energy efficiency, renewable energy and forestry projects around the world. In addition, Hornblower has taken the unique step of offering a path for their own customers to join their efforts to “Respect Our Planet”, by giving them an opportunity to offset their own carbon footprint related to cruising with Hornblower, as part of the ticket price.
“Hornblower Cruises & Events is dedicated to find ways to provide our guests with a unique dining experience while doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint. Our partnership with Carbonfund.org makes this possible.” Explains Rebecca Milkey, Director of Marketing for Hornblower Cruises & Events Southern California.
Maintaining their Carbonfree® Partnership program is part of Hornblower’s corporate environmental outreach program, Respect Our Planet, which guides the company’s principles and programs. Through Respect Our Planet, Hornblower is committed to conducting operations in the most environmentally friendly methods possible, educating along with motivating tour guests to make positive changes in their lives and creating outreach and education around the preservation of the habitats in the communities they serve.
Are your graduation robes made of recycled plastic bottles? Did you find your dress shoes at the secondhand shop? Take the next step in greening your graduation with National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology Program and Carbonfund.org!
Achieve a carbon-neutral graduation ceremony by investing in verified and validated carbon offsets that support renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects, at a special rate for Campus Ecology program campus partners. Honor each graduate with the gift of carbon offsets to send them out into the world a little bit greener.
The NWF Campus Ecology Program provides tools and resources to help students, staff, campus greening committees and sustainability officers “take a big step to make a smaller footprint” when it comes to campus greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the campus’s overall environmental footprint.
In addition to graduation greening programs, NWF Campus Ecology and Carbonfund.org can assist colleges and universities with various sustainability initiatives, including plans to reduce or neutralize emissions from facility energy consumption, grounds maintenance and operations, travel and events year-round.
Earth Day is coming up – what are you doing to celebrate the Earth and the fragile environment in which we live?
Carbonfund.org is planting trees. With the support of our business partners and individual donors, we continue to work with important tree-planting projects around the world.
This year, our tree-planting campaign includes Restaurant.com dining rewards in our Plant a Tree – Dine for Free program. It’s a great way to plant trees for Earth Day while honoring new customers, donating a tree for each April sale or customer, and recognizing the contribution your employees make all year long.
One of our business supporters, EORM (Environmental & Occupational Risk Management, Inc.), chose to plant 1500 trees for Earth Day and to receive sixty $50 Restaurant.com dining rewards to use as employee recognitions throughout the year.
EORM provides a comprehensive range of strategic, management and technical consulting solutions, partnering with clients to achieve their Environmental, Health, Safety and Sustainability short-term needs and long-term goals. EORM also seeks to make a positive impact on the world every day, by enabling companies to be socially and globally responsible, protect and support employees, and preserve the environment.
EORM employees and clients are the foundation of the company and the source of its success. Investment in EORM employees, including acknowledging accomplishments and achievements, is essential to the company’s overall success. This year, the Plant a Tree – Dine for Free program will contribute to EORM’s environmental commitment and to the ongoing development and appreciation of its employees.
The month of April can get everyone thinking green – spring takes hold in most places, trees are budding new leaves, and Earth Day celebrations are in the works.
Some environmentally aware organizations think green all year ‘round and make efforts to maintain their environmental commitments as ongoing business priorities. New Carbonfund.org supporter, Green Cloud Technologies, launched a program in 2014 to recognize each customer by planting a tree in their honor. Not only does Green Cloud provide environmentally responsible solutions for data management, Green Cloud also cares about preserving the world’s habitat. Their commitment to donate one tree per customer every quarter to Carbonfund.org should result in more than 1500 trees planted this year.
If a business isn’t in “the Cloud”, a significant portion of company resources may go toward implementing, managing, and maintaining a traditional business IT environment. The Cloud changes all of this. Cloud technology connects your business to servers, applications, and other managed services located at a data center. Users access these resources via their laptops, smartphones, tablets, or desktops via the Internet.
Likewise, tree-planting projects around the world connect and enhance the environment by improving soil quality, reducing erosion, providing local community-based jobs, and better air and water quality. Now, Green Cloud Technologies customers are participating with their data management provider in critical environmental preservation projects around the world.
What have you done lately to green your world? Consider the example set by Green Cloud Technologies and join us in a tree-planting initiative of your own.
Last month there was a question as to whether or not Ford lobbied Congress on the Keystone XL Pipeline. However, publically the automakers’ sustainability marketing promises to help achieve "climate stabilization". In the US, companies have to disclose the subject of their lobbying, but do not have to disclose the position for which they are lobbying. This incomplete reporting raises consumer and investor concerns. Smart businesses are beginning to embrace transparency on climate change policies.
Take Ikea Group, for example. The company recently released this infographic to transparently share their position on climate change. In it, IKEA explained why climate change is relevant to its business interests. And they not only made it clear where they stand on the issue and which policy actions they support, they also communicated the message directly to European policymakers. IKEA is lobbying for ambitious, legally-binding 2030 targets for carbon dioxide emissions, renewable power and energy efficiency.
Not all companies take a black or white stance on global warming. Some are merely silent on the issue. There are a multitude of reasons including fear of publically taking a position on a political topic that might push away customers. Some businesses are grappling internally with climate change’s risks and opportunities, putting out consistent messaging, and trying to find the capacity to publically engage on the issue. Whatever the reason, it is certainly delaying much needed political breakthroughs on climate change.
Although businesses fall different places on the continuum of how to publically address climate change, there are resources available to help them engage responsibly with the issue. Take this guide that is a baseline for action and transparent reporting from the World Resources Institute, which was informed by the United Nations and business leaders, policymakers, and investors.
With the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, companies can expect more scrutiny from customers, shareholders and stakeholders regarding their position on global warming. Businesses can make a positive impact on the issue and the time to start acting is now.
Carbonfund.org and National Geographic Society (NGS) have been partners in the fight against global climate change since 2009. Our relationship with NGS is managed by Mr. Hans Wegner, Chief Sustainability Officer at the Society whose leadership in the sustainability realm has been an inspiration to everyone at our Foundation.
In 2011, Han’s leadership with the NGS “Green Team” led to his team receiving our For People and Planet award in the “Media” category for their efforts to reduce carbon dioxide (C02) emissions.
These efforts included reducing emissions from their operations by 80% with an additional goal of reducing emissions from their magazine paper and printing materials supply chain by 10% by 2015. The team has succeeded at numerous other efforts from obtaining Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) Gold Status for their headquarters building to compost and recycling programs in their cafeteria.
Since the origin of our relationship, with NGS, the Society has been a key supporter of several of our projects including the Purus REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) Project in Acre, Brazil, and the Native Species Reforestation Project in Panama to offset the Society’s respective travel and office emissions.
We had the opportunity to speak with Hans on his impressive 41 years at the National Geographic Society and his broader work in the sustainability realm.
1. Please describe your current role as Chief Sustainability Officer at NGS and what lead you to that position?
I came to the Society in 1973, with a background in commercial printing. I came here to work in one of the photographic labs, compiling film for wall maps for 1.5 years and subsequently became responsible for the production and then the manufacturing of the Magazine. During that time I also handled all paper purchasing for the Society so I became very conversant with the issues related to paper manufacturing and the paper market. I took particular interest in learning all I could about the environmental impacts of all aspects of paper making; from seedling in the ground to recycling of old paper products. I took great pride in working with our paper suppliers to make sure they abide by or exceeded all applicable environmental regulations.
In 2006 I headed up a group of concerned NGS employees who felt we as an organization could do more to reduce the impact our operations had on climate change and to raise our collective awareness of our responsibility to conduct our business sustainably. Our groups focused on measuring the carbon emissions that we as a company were responsible for, including those emitted on our behalf by our suppliers. We knew we had to know our corporate carbon footprint, not only in the aggregate, but by product line or service sector so we could have a roadmap for the remedial actions we wanted to take. On the basis of this information, we made our buildings carbon neutral, achieved LEED-EB Gold status for our complex, and certified our campus as Energy Star rated and implemented many energy saving features.
On the basis of our success, I was designated Chief Sustainability Officer in 2009.
2. How did you get started in sustainability work? Who or what inspired you to go into a career in sustainability?
I have always had an inclination to try to be environmentally responsible and I like to think of myself as acting on what I know to be true. This is what led me to set environmental policy for our paper suppliers when I was handling paper purchasing for the Society, implementing a requirement to use best forest management practices, to exceed the guidelines of the Clean Air and Water Acts. In the mid 1990's I became increasingly convinced of not only the fact of climate change, but the reality that it was human activity that was causing this phenomenon. Additionally human activity was consuming finite natural resources at obviously unsustainable rates. I was of course aware that the Society was publishing or producing related stories in our Magazine and TV productions on these subjects so the problem was not a lack of public awareness of the issues but rather a problem of failing to act on what we know. I felt compelled to make a difference and to act, so I began talking to people and knew there was a critical mass of my colleagues who felt strongly, wanted to help, and were willing to volunteer their time to make a difference. That led to the formation of the GoGreen Committee (Now Green Team) which has been meeting monthly since late 2006 and is leading the sustainability initiative at the Society.
3. What personal accomplishments in the sustainability realm are you most proud of?
I would have to say being instrumental in starting the sustainability initiative at the Society and thereby creating an awareness that we as an organization and as individuals could and needed to do more than we were.
As to specifics: 1) Focusing our efforts on knowing our carbon footprint and focusing our efforts at reducing that that footprint by eliminating waste where we found it and thereby eliminating the cost of that waste. 2) Setting and then achieving the goal of becoming a carbon neutral facility and qualifying our Buildings for LEED-EB Gold certification. 3) Doing the most comprehensive Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) ever done on a Magazine in cooperation with our paper and printing suppliers. This was completed in 2009. 4) Convincing the Society to become a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) driven company in 2012. 5) Committing the Society to the idea of offsetting our scope III carbon (all indirect emissions except for purchased electricity, heat and steam). To date, we have reduced our scope III by over 20% since 2008.
4. What are you currently working on in the sustainability realm?
We are working with our suppliers of printing and digital media storage to document their emissions on our behalf and to look into renewable energy for those emissions. We are working to achieve carbon neutral status for everything we do, and to send zero waste to landfill. My goal is to have sustainability become part of the culture of the Society.
5. What is your personal biggest sustainability challenge?
Changing behavior at our company and getting more companies to start addressing climate change. Behavior changes are hard. Energy has always been cheap in the US, and the challenge is to change that perception and get people to change their behavior and use less. The other challenge is for all of us to personalize climate change and take responsibility for that change. At the end of the day each of us must make a commitment to change if we are to solve this problem. We all have the tendency to wait for someone else to start. Don't wait for someone else. You do it. Each of us can start today by: not leaving lights on, shortening the showers we take, using mass transit, recycling everything we can, etc.
6. What is going to be the biggest challenge for sustainability in the next 20 years?
Complacency on the part of most of us. Dependence on someone else to do the job for us. Ignoring the noise from the fossil fuel industry to say everything is OK when it is clearly not. A Congress that is divided to the point of dysfunction, so no federal leadership is possible. The naysayers that persist in trying to say that this is not a problem, and it is bad for the economy to address this issue. The fear mongers who wish to use this issue to divide us rather than to say here is a challenge we can unite on and fix.
7. For the next generation of environmental professionals, what advice would you give?
You do not have to be an expert. Read and act on what you know. Make the business case that waiting is paramount to throwing money away and that America cannot compete with clean economies around the world. Make the business case that inaction, or little action, is far, far more expensive and costly to jobs and prosperity than the most drastic actions we take today.
8. How did Carbonfund.org help you achieve your sustainability goals?
Carbonfund.org has been able to find projects for us to help us offset our use of natural gas to heat our buildings and use in our cafeteria. It has also helped us find projects that offset our business travel. My question to any offset provider has always been: Can you get me a two 'fer or three 'fer? By which I mean I am looking for projects that not only reduce carbon buildup in the atmosphere by adding sequestration capacity, but does doing so expand the habitat for an endangered species (either flora or fauna) in an area, thereby enhancing the possibility of that species' survival? So I am always interested in finding projects that have multiple benefits with the primary one being carbon emissions reductions. So far, Carbonfund.org has done a really good job finding such projects for us.
9. Why did you choose to work with Carbonfund.org?
In keeping with the idea of sourcing locally, I liked that Carbonfund.org is in fact local to Washington DC metro area. I also like the fact of Carbonfund.org being a not-for-profit, as I believe that addressing climate change should not be a profit driven undertaking. That is not to say that we should not do business with for profit entities, it is just that if not-for-profit is an option; that is my preference so we can put more dollars into emissions reductions.
- climate change
- leadership in sustainability
- reducing emissions
- recycling programs
- offset travel footprint
- environmental impact
- sustainable business operations
- carbon emissions
- carbon footprint
- carbon neutral
- energy conservation
- environmental responsibility
- sustainability initiatives
- renewable energy sources
- carbon emissions reduction
- emissions reduction
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report, titled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, from Working Group II of the IPCC, on Monday that says climate change's effects are already happening across the globe. No continent, country or ocean is immune. Unfortunately, in many cases, the world is not prepared for risks from a changing climate. The report determines there are opportunities to respond to such risks but the risks become difficult to manage the more global warming there is.
"With high levels of warming that result from continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions, risks will be challenging to manage, and even serious, sustained investments in adaptation will face limits," said Chris Field, Co-Chair of Working Group II. Field added: "Understanding that climate change is a challenge in managing risk opens a wide range of opportunities for integrating adaptation with economic and social development and with initiatives to limit future warming. We definitely face challenges, but understanding those challenges and tackling them creatively can make climate-change adaptation an important way to help build a more vibrant world in the near-term and beyond."
The report outlines climate change impacts experienced thus far, future risks from global warming and opportunities to reduce risks. Some of the impacts of climate change that have already happened affect: agriculture, human health, ecosystems on land and in the oceans, water supplies, and some people's livelihoods. Climate change doesn't care whether your country is rich or poor, whether you're located in the tropics or the South Pole, on a small island or land-locked on a large continent. It is affecting everyone on the planet and we must prepare now or pay a higher price later. The scary thing is that there are limits, even on the price we can pay.
"We live in an era of man-made climate change," said Vicente Barros, Co-Chair of Working Group II. "In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future."
Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, said: "The Working Group II report is another important step forward in our understanding of how to reduce and manage the risks of climate change. Along with the reports from Working Group I and Working Group III, it provides a conceptual map of not only the essential features of the climate challenge but the options for solutions."
The Working Group I report was released in September 2013 and the Working Group III report will be released in April 2014. The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report cycle ends with the publication of its Synthesis Report in October 2014.