Irish Jesuit Province commits to “Flights for Forests”

The Irish Jesuit Province has signed up to participate in Flights for Forests, the carbon-offset programme developed by the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific.  This is one of the results of the Jesuit Provincialate’s decision to commit to reflecting critically on its use of air-travel in response to Pope Francis’ invitation to us all to acknowledge our environmental responsibility.

Aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector, producing up to eight percent of the world’s total emissions, and air travel continues to rise by four to five percent annually.

“It is grand to see how the Jesuits in Ireland are working at the forefront of change. Recently the Irish Parliament passed legislation in favour of dropping coal, oil and gas investments from the national Strategic Investment Fund that should shortly become law. New habits are not so difficult for everyone to form when there is commitment and collaboration,” said Limerick-born Jesuit Fr Pedro Walpole SJ, JCAP Coordinator for Reconciliation with Creation.

“Flights for Forests” requires participants to commit US$5 for each flight taken.  The amount accumulated in a year is then used to train and support young adults in rural communities to actively manage and protect vulnerable indigenous forests in parts of the Philippines, Cambodia and Timor-Leste. The scheme will provide updates to the Irish Curia every six months.

For example, in the Philippines, Flights for Forests helps watershed regeneration and agroforestry initiatives and practices, including natural regeneration of forests along the Pantadon Range in the indigenous Pulangiyen community in Bendum, Mindanao. Some of the youth activities include identifying and planting indigenous tree species, teaching natural resource management in the community school, establishing and taking care of seedlings in tree nurseries, developing local forest policies to prevent forest fires and designing a regeneration walk through the forest for visitors.

The Irish province envisages that there may be future scope for supporting Irish based projects actively involved in nature conservation.

When he signed the commitment document, the Irish Jesuit Provincial Fr Leonard Moloney SJ thanked the Jesuits in Asia Pacific and Fr Pedro Walpole SJ for giving them this opportunity to offset their carbon footprint, by supporting their very practical “hands on” work of caring for God’s creation.

The Irish Jesuit Curia hopes that its decision will inspire and encourage other Jesuit works and communities to critically reflect on their air travel footprint, and undertake similar offsetting initiatives. [Irish Jesuits]  

Information on Flights for Forests can be found here. And you can view a promotional video of the project here

Main image: Woodland of Baggot Estate in Ballinacurra, Limerick City