From : Tourismupdate.co.za

By : Riana Geldenhuys

25 april 2012

Destination marketing companies and corporate travel agents can now help their clients leave a smaller carbon footprint by involving them in the ‘Trees for Zambia’ voluntourism project, taking place from July 1-22 near the Victoria Falls in Zambia.

Tree-loving volunteers from all over the world will be planting 5 000 indigenous and fruit trees in three weeks as part of the project run by Greenpop, a social enterprise combating deforestation in Southern Africa. It is the beginning of an ongoing campaign to make Zambia, said to have the second-highest deforestation rate in the world, a greener and more sustainable place.

Lauren O’Donnell, Cofounder, Greenpop, explains: “Apart from individual volunteers, we can host corporate and incentive groups both during the project’s launch in July and afterwards. Our planting projects make great team-building exercises.” Groups’ involvement could be tailor-made to fit their travel schedules and last anything from a half-day to a week or more. Greenpop will also facilitate the groups’ accommodation, catering and transport arrangements.

Volunteers will be planting trees at the Victoria Falls World Heritage Site – a rainforest overlooking the Victoria Falls, Dambwa Forest – a lion rehabilitation programme release site, Songwe rural village, as well as at subsistence farms and schools around Livingstone.

O’Donnell says Greenpop already received 65 bookings from 13 countries but could host many more volunteers. Besides planting trees, participants will involve the local community in conservation by educating children on the importance of trees and their natural environment. “It’s an amazing opportunity for people to immerse themselves in the Zambian culture,” she says. Volunteers will also attend workshops on environmental issues held by experts, NGO representatives and local community leaders. A volunteer project fee covers accommodation, meals, airport transfers, local transport and project tools.

Another way DMC’s and corporate travel agents could help their clients compensate for carbon emitted during their travels, is by offering them the option of adding a tree to their invoice, or start a ‘tree pledge’ programme, tailor-made for their specific company. Both options are facilitated by Greenpop.