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Responsible Travel

Sustainable Tourism – A Conversation with Greenpop

Written by  Julie Graham

Ker & Downey Africa > Journal > Sustainable Tourism – A Conversation with Greenpop

Sustainable tourism is all about giving back and being conscious of our role in the health and wellbeing of all living systems. From empowering local communities and conserving wildlife, to getting our hands into the dirt (literally), travelers are inundated with options to leave lasting legacies wherever they go. 

Trees are an integral part of our planet’s ecosystem and at the forefront of the important work being done by Greenpop. Founded in 2010, Greenpop is an award-winning forest restoration and urban greening NGO, working to restore ecosystems and empower environmental stewards across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Two people in the field planting trees for Greenpop.

 Travelers with Ker & Downey® Africa are invited to be a part of Greenpop’s tree-planting initiatives. Photo Credit | Juliette Bisset
From empowering local communities and conserving wildlife, to getting our hands into the dirt (literally), travellers are inundated with options to leave lasting legacies wherever they go.

As part of our ongoing effort to promote sustainable tourism and decrease our clients’ carbon footprint Ker & Downey® Africa partnered with Greenpop to create Trees for Africa in 2020. Each booking made with us includes an $8 donation to Greenpop and funds the planting of one tree in either Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia or South Africa.

Carla Wessels is the Partnerships and Communications Manager at Greenpop. She is also a tree-planting extraordinaire who was so inspired by the work, the people, and the cause during her internship at Greenpop in 2015, that she couldn’t stand to leave. 

We caught up with Carla to chat a bit about the importance of sustainable tourism and Greenpop’s involvement in making the world a greener place. 

What does sustainability mean to you?

A group of people planting trees for Greenpop.

Carla Wessels – Partnerships and Communications Manager at Greenpop – planting trees at Bhodi Khaya Nature Retreat in the Western Cape. Photo Credit | Juliette Bisset.

Sustainability is when we consider all the components of the whole – the environment, our community and ourselves. When we approach business and projects with a holistic view on sustainability the world is better off for it. It is so important to restore our planet, but it is equally as important to restore our relationship with nature and each other. Only then can we reach a true sustainable outcome.

Why do you think it is important for the tourism industry to emphasise the importance of responsible travel to those traveling into Africa?

Tourism is an important component of environmental conservation. Responsible tourism has the potential to inspire visitors, but also raise vital funds for the conservation of our natural habitats.

It is so important to restore our planet, but it is equally as important to restore our relationship with nature and each other. Only then can we reach a true sustainable outcome.

A man smiling and passing a young tree to a woman to be planted at a Greenpop planting day.

Greenpop planting day. Photo Credit | Juliette Bisset

What are Greenpop’s sustainability goals, and how are you achieving them?

Greenpop’s vision is a TREEvolution – a world where people and nature thrive together. We have four main programmes that aim to achieve this goal: Forest Restoration, Urban Greening, Food Gardening and Environmental Awareness. 

Our main project falls under Forest Restoration and is called Forests for Life – with this project we aim to plant 500,000 trees by 2030. We have planted 172,000 trees so far.

Aside from planting a tree, what are some other ways travelers can get their hands dirty and contribute to the incredible work Greenpop is doing on the ground?

A woman’s hands in the soil planting a tree for Greenpop.

Greenpop aims to plant 500,000 trees by 2030

People can support Greenpop by: 

Fast forward 100 years into the future. What does the world look like to you?

Young tree saplings waiting to be planted.

Join the TREEvolution with Greenpop!

I see a future that is bright green! A world where everyone has access to affordable and nutritious food, where we conserve our ecosystems and live with/not against nature. I hope that 100 years from now, we have healed our relationship with the planet.

If you are traveling to South Africa and want to get your hands dirty, Ker & Downey® Africa’s LuxVenture® Designers can arrange a planting day for you during your trip. 

Not traveling but want to get involved? Donate to Greenpop.