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Tasman tourist operator gets the zero carbon tick

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AbelTasman.com commercial director Brendan Alborn said the Zero Carbon certification was a “proud moment” for the family-owned business.

An Abel Tasman tourism operator has become the first in the area to gain a certified Zero Carbon status. 

AbelTasman.com were awarded the Zero Carbon status by not-for-profit enterprise Ekos, after offsetting their emissions through a forest project in Golden Bay. 

AbelTasman.com commercial director Brendan Alborn said the company, which includes AquaTaxi, Marahau Water Taxis, Marahau Sea Kayaks, Marahau Beach Camp, Hooked Restaurant and the Abel Tasman Centre, had worked hard to make sure their business was environmentally sustainable. 

Alborn said the company had spent years working on energy efficiency in their buildings, but primarily through fuel efficiency for the outboard motors of their 15 water taxis. 

“At the moment there’s no biofuel or electric versions of those motors available.

“Once you’ve done everything thing you can with fuel efficiency, the only way to become Zero Carbon is through a carbon offset.” 

Alborn said after calculating the company’s carbon emissions, they offset the remainder through purchasing carbon credits via the Uruwhenua Regenerative Forest project – a 93 hectare native forest adjacent to Kahurangi National Park in Golden Bay.

He said while the Abel Tasman visitor industry already made a significant contribution to local conservation projects, the company wanted to offer visitors peace of mind that they could enjoy Abel Tasman without a carbon footprint.   

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An aerial view of the 93 hectare Uruwhenua Forest project – which borders on Kahurangi National Park.

“We know that our local community and customers are very concerned about the impacts of climate change and we felt we had a moral obligation to do our part in reducing and offsetting our emissions.

“We wanted to step up when it comes to climate change and do everything we can to measure, reduce and offset emissions created through our commercial activities.”

Nelson Regional Development Agency (NRDA) chief executive Mark Rawson said Nelson Tasman presented an extraordinary visitor offering based on the regions “stunning natural landscapes”. 

“It just makes sense to continue the good work the industry has done in the conservation space and step up our game in terms of carbon footprint”. 

Alborn said the carbon offset probably formed the easier half of reducing emissions. 

BRADEN FASTIER / STUFF Nelson siblings Florence, left, and Chloe Van Dyke have earned a carbon zero status for their business, Chia Sisters.

“All of the dirty work is decreasing the demand [for emissions] as much as possible, it’s probably the more expensive and harder thing to do [than carbon offset].

“That’s the key point. It’s not just trying to buy your way out, you can do all of the hard work but at a certain point you’re still going to be burning fuel.”

Alborn said the company had reduced emissions by 10 per cent in the past year by working on fuel efficiency initiatives such as digital fuel gauges and more frequent servicing. 

Other initiatives included investing in a state of the art wastewater treatment system, on-site waste management, and a new energy-efficient kayaking and water taxi base.

On Monday, another tourism operator with business in Tasman announced it had been certified Carbon Zero. 

Aviation Tourism company INFLITE includes Tasman brands Skydive Abel Tasman and Nelson Tasman Air.

INFLITE chief executive Adam Joyce said with the certification, all of the bases around New Zealand would be “able to take pride in the working for a company that is committed in its care for the environment.”

Alborn said he hoped the Carbon Zero example would be followed by other tourism businesses throughout the region. 

“This is a start for the region, but I know there’s other operators that are on their way as well. 

“How cool would it be if Nelson Tasman was the first carbon neutral visitor sector in New Zealand.” 

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Alborn said the Uruwhenua Forest carbon offset covered the 2018-19 financial year, with the company looking to make similar offsets on a yearly basis.

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Credit: Tim Newman, Stuff

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