Exodus launch new NATURE FIRST sustainability commitment, so what does Nature Net Positive mean?
by Pru Goudie
As Exodus Travels launch their new Nature Net Positive commitment this week I speak with Kasia Morgan, Head of Sustainability to find out what Nature Net Positive means and how the rest of the adventure travel industry can be encouraged to play their part.
A lot of people won't have heard of 'Nature Net Positive' so let’s start with a simple articulation of what it means.
"Nature Net Positive essentially means acting to ensure that the negative impacts human activity have on nature are outweighed by positive impacts" explains Morgan.
"The world is waking up to the fact that it’s not only a climate crisis that we face but actually biodiversity collapse as well and the two feed into each other. There’s a slightly vicious cycle occurring where climate change is accelerating the degradation of natural eco systems, as we know, and in turn degraded eco systems weaken our own defences and ability to weather the storm of the impacts of climate change that we’re experiencing".
Humans have wiped out 60% of animals population since 1970
1 million out of the 8 million species on our planet are currently at risk of extinction
70% of our worlds land base environment has been significantly altered by human actions
"Humans have been messing with the eco systems and the biodiversity that we need for our survival, going forward. We’re all now waking up to the fact, whether it’s Governments, communities, businesses or individuals that we all have a responsibility to not only reduce these negative impacts on the natural world but also proactively seek to restore those eco systems that we rely on for our future survival."
So taking all this on board what goals is Exodus setting as a company?
Exodus started their climate action journey in earnest in Jan 2020 with a coherent strategy and started by declaring a Climate Emergency and then spent that year amidst the pandemic trying to figure what that meant exactly and went on to launch the Exodus climate action plan in Jan 2021 with the following goals:
They declared with Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency
To half their carbon footprint by 2030
To compensate for all trip emissions through their carbon compensation projects
Rewilding 100 square metres per passenger, through their partnership with Rewilding Europe
Image Credit: Bruno D'Amicis - Rewilding Europe
Exodus are working toward ensuring their adventures are nature net positive by 2024. However, the work doesn’t stop there. Increasing the positive impacts their adventures can have on nature will be a continuous transparent and on-going journey." says Morgan.
Exodus is keen to acknowledge that their business still has negative impacts on nature so they are seeking to identify those impacts.
Carbon emissions such as flights
Pollution and waste i.e. single use plastic, especially as a result of the pandemic
Ecosystem exploitation, whether this through the building of hotels, noise pollution that is created, or number of nights spent in over exploited areas or other such impacts that need investigating
How do they combat these negative impacts?
This includes further implementing their robust animal welfare policy by auditing their trips to ensure they avoid any damaging animal interaction, working with their DMCS on the ground to avoid handing clients any single use plastics and engaging their partners on avoiding intensively produced commodities such as palm oil, or beef that’s not sustainably farmed. These are some of the targets Exodus is setting themselves for 2023.
Anything we can’t avoid how do we seek to measure and understand and then reduce these negative impacts?
Carbon Emissions is the most glaringly obvious impact but this is an opportunity to engage their clients. Exodus has already set their goal to halve their carbon emissions by 2030 and has recently launched an extensive train travel offering which is both popular and measurable.
Like many companies they have compensation for all of their trip emissions therefore mitigating some of those carbon emissions.
Additionally Exodus Travel Foundation has been able to reduce human wildlife conflict, which has a huge impact on nature and wildlife. An example of this would be their new ‘Free to Roam’ project in Kenya, where they are working with local communities in Tsavo National Park to ring-fence just 10% of the land and helping them to create really productive permaculture by creating more nutrition and generating more income opportunity, yet still leaving 90% of land open for wildlife to roam freely.
Once we avoid and then reduce how do we proactively look to restore nature and biodiversity through this? By continuing that commitment to rewild 100 square metres per passenger, expanding their commitment to rewilding Europe in the coming years, this is done through new trip itineraries created where Exodus can take their clients with the experts to areas they are rewilding so that allows clients to get involved in conservation and feel part of the restoration commitment. This also boosts the rewilding program in the area and allows the locals to get behind the restoration of nature and biodiversity in that region.
Exodus has recently partnered with NatureMetrics a world-leading provider of biodiversity monitoring data, using environmental DNA surveys, metabarcoding and more to promote and understand where conservation is most needed. It gives Exodus clients the opportunity to get proactively engaged, through their trips, in supporting nature restoration and conservation.
FIVE ways the adventure travel community can start becoming Nature Net Positive
Collaboration across sector is key! It’s growing exponentially over years, we are dealing with hugely difficult and complex problems and there are many organisations out there to help. Solutions need to be implemented at scale so it’s vital we work together with transparency and accountability to achieve this. If we share knowledge and vulnerability we can go faster together
Share reference points so all companies can draw on these sources as a starting point and be transparent about progress
During the last 18-months we came together as an industry in an ‘hour of need’ and it’s important we continue to share our company sustainability initiatives with humility and openness, rather than competitive confidence
Acknowledge that despite our best efforts, it’s very transparent that our industry still has some profound negative impacts on nature and the environment. It’s beneficial to share knowledge and try and solve these problems with each other
Talk to your clients more about nature and biodiversity and highlight what your company is already doing so they can get behind your initiatives to support and embrace them
Finally, here's two useful resources available immediately to get you thinking
The ‘Get Nature Positive’ Handbook' - HERE
Science Based Targets for Nature: Initial Guidance for Business - HERE
📢 Well done Exodus and a huge thank you to Kasia Morgan for taking the time to share the details with Adventure Travel Networking - see full commitment HERE
Pru Goudie, Founder