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Environmental & social impact

What about the environmental impact the expedition creates?

Whenever we set up an expedition, an environmental impact assessment is part of the process. From this assessment flow things such as what you can do as an individual to reduce your impact (and when you join up you will receive guidelines on this), what Biosphere Expeditions can do as an organisation (such as, for example, offsetting its carbon debt) and how we can help local partners and people too. Needless to say that all this is done to keep environmental impact to a minimum.

What about local customs?

Our policy of minimum impact and least disturbance extends to local people. Your expedition leader and the local scientist will brief you on this and you should refer to them if you are ever in any doubt. Needless to say that we will always respect the customs and laws of the host nation.  We also advise on clothing to bring with you where there can be cultural issues about dress and behavioural codes.

What about carbon dioxide damage done to the environment through me flying out to the expedition assembly point?


Biosphere Expeditions offsets the carbon debt incurred from the assembly point onwards (i.e. whilst the expedition is actually in the field). In addition, all our team members are encouraged on a voluntary basis to make a donation to Climate Care based on their travel to the assembly point. This donation is paid into a fund that invests in projects that reduce carbon in the atmosphere, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency activities.

The current media focus on environmental issues, whilst very welcome and long overdue, has led to a lot of bad press for flying. Some might argue that this is a good thing, but it has left the general public with a somewhat skewed view of the impact of flying and many now feel guilty about taking a holiday that involves a flight.
According to a recent straw poll by, some people think that air travel accounts for around 30% of total emissions whereas in fact it accounts for nearer 5% of total emissions and our homes account for the lion's share with 25% of emissions. 

While fully acknowledging the impact of flying on global warming, we believe that it should not be the scapegoat for the world's global warming crisis and below suggest a few simple ways in which you will be able to ‘afford’ your flight with CO2 savings.

Typical household emissions per person per year in the UK are around 11 tonnes, yet a return flight from, say London to the Spain project assembly point in Reus, will only emit approximately 0.26 tonnes per person. Or a flight from Frankfurt to the Altai expedition assembly point in Novosibirsk will emit 1.31 tonnes. If you want to be able to ‘afford’ a flight in reduced CO2 emissions, you can easily do this by eliminating some of the 11 tonnes of household emissions – just have a look at the tables below for what can be done and you’ll see it’s actually pretty easy.






We also believe strongly that stopping travelling altogether will have a detrimental effect on both local economic development and conservation thereby holding back carbon reduction initiatives in destinations, which need local communities to be educated about their environments, and to be able to afford to invest in low carbon technologies. UK tourists alone currently spend around £2bn a year in developing countries, a figure which comes very close to the UK’s Department for International Development annual budget. Admittedly, not all of this trickles down to local people, but as responsible tourism increases, so this proportion increases too.

According to Justin Francis of “Air travel contributes to global warming but if we all stopped flying and booking responsible holidays then we will also contribute to global warming as both local economic development and conservation would be negatively impacted.”

So in a nutshell, if you follow the suggested or similar household carbon reduction measures, you will be able to go on expedition safe in the knowledge that you will be emitting less carbon than before, and that you will also be supporting local conservation and development – which in turn can help local communities to reduce their own carbon emissions.  Moreover, after having been on expedition with us, we would hope that you return home with strengthened values regarding the environment, resource preservation, and economic wealth, which could lead you to even more sustainable behaviour in your daily life and potentially for the rest of your life. Now if that’s not worth the investment, then we’re not sure what would be!

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