Carbon Offsetting and Beyond
The most obvious aspect of the Earth Education International (EEI) Carbon and Community program is tree-planting, something we have been involved in since 2002. Ecologically, our trees help to offset carbon dioxide emissions associated with EEI offerings and assist in efforts to make Costa Rica carbon-neutral by 2021. Some related points of interest are as follows:
* On average, a tropical tree absorbs .053 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Emissions associated with participating in a two-week short course (air travel, in-country transport, and daily consumption) total approximately .83 tonnes compared to .47 tonnes for the average student in the U.S. (if staying home for that time). Thus, planting two trees per person per course will achieve carbon neutrality in less than 8 years. Looked at another way, carbon released due to participating in the course (vs. staying at home) will be sequestered in approximately 3.4 years.
* To date, trees we have planted have absorbed more than 70% (12 out of 17 tonnes) of carbon emissions associated with past offerings (including participant air travel to/from Costa Rica, local in-country transport, and daily consumption), and all such emissions are expected to be completely sequestered by 2019.
* In addition to sequestering carbon dioxide, trees we plant provide watershed restoration, climate management and erosion control, and improved local air quality. Due to the primary location where we reforest (within the Montes de Aguacate Biological Corridor), reforestation of native trees helps restore habitat for increased biological diversity.
Local Community Involvement
In addition to offsetting carbon dioxide emissions (and other environmental benefits) the Carbon & Community program also supports the local economy and community. Implementation is primarily in cooperation with local community-based partners in our sister town of Palmares with community initiatives involved in reforestation, watershed conservation, and related activities. Earth Education International assists and supports those efforts through community integration, outreach, and education. For more details, see an overview of our sustainability efforts, or the EEI Sustainability Assessment Inventory (Word document). On a personal level, this also provides an opportunity for EEI program participants and alumni to collaborate with Costa Ricans and others through shared field experiences and volunteer service-learning work. For example, past participants have assisted various reforestation efforts, restoration of a butterfly garden, maintaining hiking trails, attending to and fertilizing trees, working in a tree nursery and posting signs, and repairing and painting bathrooms after they were vandalized. On behalf of EEI and the local community, we thank all who have been involved for your efforts!
Reforestation: Then and Now
Included below is a representative sample of past reforestation efforts. To the left are pictures taken during the course (on the date noted), and to the right are how the trees look today.
International Environmental Issues and Globalization: June, 2016
Tropical Biology: May 2009
Ecosystems, Conservation & Community:
Semester Abroad in Sustainable Global Stewardship: Spring 2007