There are very few places left in the world that you can refer to as sanctuaries. Sure, we call areas associated with paradise, or as being quiet, as a sanctuary. But when we talk about the Galapagos Islands, we have a more profound association.
The Galapagos Islands are sanctuaries for the Giant Tortoises. It is a safe place for the Hammerhead sharks and for an abundance of wildlife. These pristine islands are a sanctuary for wildlife photographers and birdwatchers. They offer refuge for those us wanting to escape and switch off. The Galapagos Islands are so pure and provide so much, that they are, at their core, sanctuaries.
But this comes with a price. With every visitor, there’s a leftover footprint. And we’re not just talking about the cute ones in the sand.
The Science Stuff: Carbon Footprint and Best Practices
A Carbon Footprint is the amount of greenhouse gas that a single human being releases into the environment. It is calculated as tonnes of CO2 released each year. The calculation also includes other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. The estimate is very complex, as everything we do has an effect.
As science and technology have developed, Scientists have been able to determine the level of damage these emissions cause – and the speed at which they cause it.
A study conducted in the Galapagos Islands in 2012 (click here to read) found that the growth in tourism has led to “the introduction of invasive species” and “led to unsustainable levels of energy and water consumption; contamination of air, soil and fresh and seawater resources”. At the time of print, tourism had only been allowed on the Islands for 50 years.
To help combat the situation, guidelines have been issued to help you reduce your impact on the environment. These include:
Taking public transport or car-pooling
Walking where possible
Using energy-efficient appliances
Turning off all used electricals at the plug socket
Insulating your home
Eating less meat
Using refillable water bottles and coffeecups
Buying local produce to reduce transport
Carbon Footprint in The Galapagos Islands
As the Galapagos Islands are so essential to our ecosystem, measures have been put in place to ensure minimal damage.
We understand that this article may seem hypocritical – telling you all about the damage visiting these enchanted islands can cause, yet encouraging you to travel here at the same time. But we believe in harmony and we want to promote conscious tourism. Plus, we love the Galapagos Islands and want you to be able to experience them.
And we are not alone in our thinking.
As of January 2018, Baltra Airport is the only airport in the world to be labelled carbon neutral as it functions solely on wind and solar energy. There is also a limit on the number of tourists that are allowed onto the islands each year, and the only authorised flights are from Quito.
A recent study found that, after air travel, the boats transporting tourists generate a majority of emissions. As a result, cruise companies, including ourselves, have been encouraged to follow specific guidelines to reduce carbon footprints.
These guidelines include:
Not having too many excursion groups in one location at one time
The boats are not allowed too close to the shore
Water activities such as kayaking and snorkelling are only allowed in certain areas
Diving is limited
Haugan Cruises Plan To Reduce CO2
After some reflection and realignment of our principles and values – and in keeping with government guidelines – we have committed to doing as much as we can to reduce our carbon footprint.
Our products and food are sourced locally where possible, and as of this year, there is now a vegan option available onboard. We provide refillable water bottles for you to use during your stay (and at home if you wish.) with refill stations around the yacht.
During your first briefing, we reiterate the importance of recycling and reducing your own footprint during your trip.
We are continually working on ways to become more environmentally friendly and hope to announce a carbon offset programme soon. Our company has been assessed, so we are aware of our emissions. Now we are in the process of allocating the best offset plan that is in line with our values, that most benefits the environment, and that provides you with the confidence that your contribution is going to a good cause.
We hope to have this initiative up and running soon. If you have any questions or comments about carbon offsetting, please contact us.