Marriott Pays Villagers to Preserve the Rainforest 2

By Ben

With Earth Day right around the corner, many people will be planting trees to help our environment. While these trees are being planted, multi-billion dollar Marriott International will be paying villagers in parts of the Amazon rainforest to not cut down trees.

Marc Gunther details the arrangement on his blog:

Marriott will donate a relatively small amount of its own money – $2 million over the next three years – to the Sustainable Amazon Foundation, a newly-formed nonprofit organization.

The hotel company will also solicit contributions from its employees and hotel guests who want to offset their carbon footprint and help save the Amazon. “A lot of our group customers are interested in holding ‘green’ meetings,” explained Arne Sorenson, Marriott’s CFO. The company hopes to raise at least another $4 million from customers and employees over the next three years.

In Amazonas, some of the money will go to subsistence payments, known as “bolsa florestras,” for the 500 or so people who live in a 1.4-million acre area known as the Juma Sustainable Preserve. (That’s about the size of Delaware, officials said.) The Amazonas Foundation will also use the money to improve local schools and help villagers engage in more sustainable livelihoods, such as subsistence agriculture. Money will also fund monitoring in the area to insure that trees are not cut down, and to enforce existing Brazilian laws against illegal logging.

Marriott explains the importance of this partnership on their corporate blog:

Trees in the rainforest are being cut down because the timber is a valuable commodity. But these trees also absorb greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, and keep the planet from warming. Put another way, the burning and clearing of the rainforest produces more greenhouse gases than all the cars, SUVs, trucks and trains on the planet combined.

RaceTalk has been following stories about big companies going green like Sun Chips and Wal-Mart. Marriott is just one of the latest to jump onto the ‘green’ bandwagon, which also includes Major League Baseball.

The nice thing about Marriott’s initiative (no matter how strange it sounds at first) is that it’s not just implementing a reusable bag policy. It’s trying to accomplish something that can make a large impact on our environment. Hopefully other companies (and our government) will catch on and join the effort.

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