For many of us, seaweed is merely the stuff that wraps your sushi roll, or gets tangled in your fins while snorkelling – but it’s actually a carbon-guzzling marine marvel. Like all plants, it performs a vital role in the Earth’s climate regulation process, pulling carbon dioxide out of the ocean and replacing it with oxygen. And kelp, the world’s fastest-growing plant, is thought to be the key to fighting global warming: a humble weed turned environmental superhero.
But over 95% of the world’s kelp forests have been lost to climate change – so scientists are now pioneering seaweed ‘farms’ in key locations all over the globe: vast marine permaculture projects that let kelp and its resident marine life thrive, and give the world’s climate system a much-needed boost. It takes true visionaries to champion such an ambitious project, but adventure specialist Intrepid Travel has pledged its full support – as well as AU$600,000 (£317,380) to kick-start Australia’s first seaweed-cultivation project.
In April this year, The Intrepid Foundation – the operator’s not-for-profit organisation – raised AU$350,000 (£185,140) for the cause in just four months. Intrepid matched public donations dollar-for-dollar, partnering with US-based environmental campaigner The Climate Foundation, and also gave 40% of all profits from its Family trips to the charity – helping to preserve the environment for the next generation.
While Intrepid Travel has been carbon neutral for the last decade, it plans to become the world’s largest climate-positive travel company in 2020: by not only offsetting its emissions through purchasing carbon credits [see below for details], but by actually removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “The global climate crisis is escalating, but ignoring the problem isn’t going to make it go away,” says Darrell Wade, co-Founder of Intrepid Travel “We need to act now. The good news is that there are solutions.”