REI Adventures provides three-year sustainable tourism grant to fund project
Trekking in Peru can be a life-changing experience as travelers are greeted by residents of local villages and as they explore the ancient city of Machu Picchu. To support the community along the Salkantay Trail, REI Adventures gave a multi-year sustainability grant to the nonprofit Yanapana Peru to fund an ecological restoration project along the Andean Forest.
Over the last several months, REI’s lodging partner, Mountain Lodges of Peru, and its associated nonprofit, Yanapana Peru, built a greenhouse in the Mollepata district of Cusco. Ten local residents were employed to construct the greenhouse using traditional practices. Native seedlings are now being grown to reforest nearly 250 acres (100 hectares) of damaged Andean forest. By 2018, 100,000 seedlings will be planted in the region.
The grant also includes educational outreach for sustainable farming and forest practices to prevent erosion along the Rio Blanco River. A steady supply of local genetically appropriate seeds will generate trees and herbs to maintain the area’s wild fauna and local biodiversity. Wood from the project will have multi-purpose benefits for the community. Long-term, the effort will improve the landscape and its microclimates, generating a positive impact for ecotourism and the environment. The community of Mollepata, approximately 3,000 residents, will benefit from improved water quality. Natural water is the primary source of drinking water.
“Machu Picchu and the trekking routes to the ancient city have long been a top destination for our members,” said Cynthia Dunbar, REI Adventures general manager. “Being stewards of the inspirational and iconic places our members experience is part of our responsibility as a co-op. We are investing in the future of our most popular trekking route while having a positive impact with the local community, tourism and environment.”
“Progress, technology and modernization, which transfer throughout many of mankind’s economic activities, carry the threat of extinction of human’s connection and relationship with nature. This situation requires immediate environmental action, awareness and education,” said Enrique Umbert, CEO of Mountain Lodges of Peru. “We are happy to be part of a group of leading organizations that understand that a project like this one can drive change and generate multiple positive impacts in the short, medium and long-term: in environmental restoration and protection, in education, in recovering sustainable farming activities, in sustainable tourism management and others.”
“This project will have much impact, as the Salkantay route is becoming one of the most popular routes to Machu Picchu,” said Dora Quintana, Yanapana Peru general coordinator. “The reforestation will help to maintain the route, create greater environmental awareness among residents and visitors, and protect Salkantay’s mountain glacier layer that each year is disappearing due to the global warming.”
In mid-November, Mountain Lodges of Peru, Yanapana Peru and REI Adventures honored the project with a celebration with local residents, leaders and others.
Tourism in Peru
REI Adventures has brought outdoor enthusiasts to Peru for 20 years, and the country is one of company’s top classic destinations. With seven unique itineraries offered, guests can choose from seven, nine, 10 or 15-day trips that explore the region through hiking, rafting and more. REI Adventures offers a family vacation perfect for those with children aged eight years and older. Guests of REI’s Machu Picchu Volunteer Vacation work alongside park rangers in the citadel. REI Adventures is the only company permitted to do trail maintenance and archaeological restoration in the sanctuary.
REI Adventures’ Sustainable Tourism Award
REI Adventures introduced its sustainable tourism award in 2013. The first recipient was the Namibian Conservation Guards to recognize their success in nature conservation and positive impact to the community through the protection of wildlife that is vital to the tourism industry and environment.