Our biggest motivator for our offsetting initiative is the now-acknowledged worldwide issue of climate change, for which we all bear our part of the responsibility.

This particular project is being carried out through the protection of the rainforest in the Choco Bioregion of Ecuador, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. (This and future carbon sinks will be selected in conjunction with Fundación Jocotoco.) After much research and study, it has been determined that in order to protect the forest, our conservation effort needs to be rolled out on a number of fronts.

We have formed partnerships to rent land from local farmers and landowners or will be paying them a fee to ensure nature-friendly uses of the land that are kind to people, kind to biodiversity, and kind to the Earth. Additionally, other swaths of forest are to be purchased and tacked on to the current reserve. This multifaceted effort creates “biological corridors” – continuous strips of restored land that allow for migration of species, adequate mating strategies, and proper foraging –so much more than just a carbon offsetting initiative.

Our goal is to create a nature reserve with an area of at least 12,355 acres, equalling the size of over 9,000 football fields.

For us, this project goes beyond carbon footprint offsetting. It is about conservation, biodiversity, and a joint community effort.

Metropolitan Touring has hired environmental consultant SAMBITO to measure the environmental impact of its operations on each of its wholly-owned properties in Ecuador, as well as the impact of the operations carried out by the providers working with the company.

We want to ensure that our offsetting initiative is responsibly handled. This is a serious, long-term commitment from the company, which is why we have a strong due-diligence process to ensure that the methodologies and standards employed by our partners and ourselves are up to the highest international standards.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations recommends the use of specific methodologies and guidelines when it comes to measuring carbon emissions. We have aligned our strategy completely to those recommendations.

Additionally, because we wanted the right know-how for this endeavor, we allied ourselves with environmental consulting firm SAMBITO, and we chose a highly-regarded, reputable external third-party provider of product testing and certification, the German company TÜV Rheinland, for our certification process.

In order to measure how much CO2 the forest can sequester (capture), our consultant SAMBITO has aided us in performing a thorough measurement of each of the trees comprising the area to be used for offsetting. The methodology is complex, but to simplify, you need to carve out the forest into imaginary parcels.

Each tree in the parcel is then measured (at chest height) and a calculation is done based on the circumference and height of the tree, the type of tree, and the tree’s biomass. This calculation allows one to determine how much CO2 each tree is able to absorb. In the Choco, specifically, it has been determined that the forest can absorb, on average, 287.02 tons of CO2 per hectare (287.02 Tons CO2/ha).

The international price of carbon is not yet regulated or fixed. It varies from a range of $1 per ton offset up to $40 per ton offset. There are even instances of higher prices, straddling the 80- or 100-dollar mark. In such a variable context, Metropolitan Touring has chosen to define a set of criteria or “values” to reflect, in our price, the real costs of capturing the carbon in forests, including the cost of protecting the land where carbon is to be sequestered.

All things considered, we have calculated the cost of offsetting each ton of CO2 in a mature forest at $16 per ton to start.

Just book your regular trip as you normally would through Metropolitan Touring. We will use our consultant’s carbon offsetting calculator to measure your carbon footprint for each trip and offer you a carbon offsetting product, the price of which will depend on the type and length of your trip. Your investment will go towards the purchase or long-term lease of the lands in the Choco Bioregion, to be used for conservation purposes.

And DONE. You will now have booked a once-in-a-lifetime trip without leaving a carbon footprint, while simultaneously helping preserve the Andean Choco, and the destinations you have come to know and love.

ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, operates with the sole purpose of promoting worldwide proprietary, industrial, and commercial standards. Different standards have different codes, and the ISO 14064-1 standard specifies principles and requirements at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals.

This governs the design, development, management, reporting and verification of an organization's GHG inventory. You can find out more about the ISO 14064-1 standard here.