The real-world impact of climate change can feel overwhelming at times, but what can we as individuals – and companies – do to improve things? Culture Trip speaks to Tree-Nation – a non-profit organisation that operates around the world, including Madagascar – to find out how real technology and ‘virtual’ forests can help the environment and offset your carbon footprint.
Many businesses are making commitments to change long-ingrained habits and prove their green credentials. At Culture Trip, we’ve decided on a series of initiatives to continue the work we started before the global pandemic struck in early 2020. As part of our Responsible Travel initiative, we’ve been working with Tree-Nation, a Barcelona-based project at the forefront of reforestation projects. Here’s how one company is using modern technology to help save the planet.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
The travel industry has as much of a responsibility to get involved in projects like Tree-Nation as any other. Not only does air travel greatly contribute to carbon emissions, there’s also the indirect impact on destinations we all want to see and explore before they are gone forever. The loss of natural forests across the world has a greater impact on global greenhouse emissions than the entire transport sector, so it makes sense that, collectively, we do our utmost to turn the planet green again.
To explain the thinking behind Tree-Nation and why its unique approach is already proving successful, we spoke to Filip Jastrzebski, the company’s marketing and operations director – and our guide to a smarter way of making a difference. “Tree-Nation is an online platform that specialises in creating a tangible connection between the economy as well as people’s day-to-day lives and tree-planting,” he says. “Our mission is to connect tree-planting to any traditional economic process, such as buying a product, using a website or working from an office.
“We believe that our economy/way of life is what is causing the erosion of our environment, as well as climate change,” he continues. “To solve the problem, we are connecting our economy to a regenerative process, which is tree-planting. We are responsible for both the selection of tree-planting projects as well as the acquisition of new funders such as companies or citizens, and the development of IT tools that help to create the connection between our lives and tree-planting, encouraging people to take up reforestation of the world first as a habit, and later as a duty.”
Tree-Nation was launched in 2006, when CEO Maxime Renaudin turned his knowledge about climate change and concerns over the lack of effective projects into what is now a fast-growing enterprise. Jastrzebski joined in 2019, having previously run a small tree-planting charity in Ireland.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of projects like Tree-Nation. As Jastrzebski says, “the fact that our success will be proportional to the success of our species to protect our environment, mitigate climate change and also to spread wealth to developing countries [makes it special]. The majority of our tree-planting projects are based in developing countries: paying for the planting of a tree also contributes to the income of the local community doing the work in a less privileged part of the world.”
If you want a visual representation of how this works, just take a look at Jastrzebski’s Tree-Nation page. “Technology is actually the heart of Tree-Nation,” he says. “Using computers, and the internet, we have been bringing the tree-planting experience online, thereby increasing its accessibility which is – and always was – the main problem in encouraging day-to-day people or companies to plant trees. In the same way that Amazon or Shopify have digitised shopping, allowing you to buy products you cannot even get in your own country, we are doing the same thing when it comes to trees, connecting the world and increasing our ability to tackle global issues together.”
Individuals using this service can see how much of an impact they are having in reversing the damage caused by climate change, as can larger organisations. This is acutely true for Culture Trip, and the change we want to implement.
“Transport is innately connected to travel, which happens to be one of the most polluting industries in the world,” Jastrzebski says. “Connecting Culture Trip to tree-planting, using our services, is a great first step for the company to become climate positive. Our methodology at Tree-Nation is to start offsetting CO2 emissions immediately, then to optimise the supply chain by making it CO2 neutral. This is because changing supply chains takes far longer than planting trees, which by using Tree-Nation you could do in an instant.”
Jastrzebski is optimistic that, in this way, we at Culture Trip can make positive steps while still enjoying travel. “We cannot imagine a world without travelling – such a vision is nonsensical and would not benefit humanity. Sustainable travel is a mandatory feat that we must achieve as a species and is therefore a cause Tree-Nation certainly supports. Outside air travel, there is an increasing number of low-emission travel options available, such as trains, electric cars or public transport. I believe that, over time, the sustainable travel market will only increase,” Jastrzebski tells us. It’s a sentiment we wholeheartedly share.
Tree-Nation aims to reforest the world – and their efforts will go some way to reversing the deforestation we have seen in our lifetimes. A sense of hopelessness can sometimes creep in when we think about the damage we’re causing to the planet, and it can be hard to shake off – but Tree-Nation has shown us that there is cause for optimism, too.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.