Sustainability

Platinum Heritage has a holistic view on our environmental strategy as it is just one pillar on our Sustainable Business Mission which includes our Environmental Strategy, our mission to showcase, preserve and honour the local heritage and culture and our support of local industry and people. We are very proud to be the first and only desert safari company to be awarded the coveted Green Tourism Award by Dubai Tourism.

Our Environmental Strategy contains the following elements…

Avoiding and educating the industry about the damage of dune bashing

Numerous studies have highlighted to devastating effects of dune bashing on the environment. This is leading to severe desertification, a terrible environment degradation where vegetation and wildlife is lost.

Studies from Wild Earth Guardians conducted a study of the effects on dunes with 50 4WD’s making a pass over desert vegetation. This was the results of their findings…

“Not only were plants trampled and damaged by the traffic, but they were also slow in recolonizing off-road vehicle (ORV) tracks after traffic had ceased. ORVs also churn up and dry out the organic drift lines (the high point of material deposited by waves). Plant seeds deposited at these organic drift lines often develop into mature plants over time, but Godfrey and Godfrey (1981) found that ORV traffic trampled seedlings and made the soil unsuitable for growth, thereby retarding the natural cycle of plant colonization and the formation of foredunes (a ridge of irregular sand dunes partially covered with vegetation).”

Obviously, where there is no vegetation, there are no animals. Where there is no vegetation and no animals, you have desertification.
This problem was highlighted in The National on June 4, 2014…

“Off-roading, littering and clearing for construction purposes are prime threats. In fact, the simple act of driving into the UAE desert to watch the sunset could damage the environment. Vehicles crush dry shrubs and low-lying plants, which results in a reduction in the soil’s ability to absorb water, making it more susceptible to wind erosion.”

Ajman Hasan from the Sustainable blog site, Green Prophet made the following observations in 2012.

“These deserts are host to a variety of wildlife, from mammals to reptiles to insects. These creatures are all superbly built to utilize the desert sand and survive the harsh environment they live in. Dune bashing literally destroys their natural habitat (breeding grounds, holes, activity areas, etc) forcibly displacing them to move deeper into the desert, thereby putting immense pressure on them to survive”.

To date, Platinum Heritage is the only company in the safari industry to do something about educating the industry, protecting the desert environment and removing dune bashing from their desert experiences. No company can truly call themselves “Green” when they participate in a daily activity that is leading animals and plants towards extinction.

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Use of renewable energy

From the inception of Platinum Heritage, we decided not to use generator or city power. We undertook a multi-strategy approach to our energy strategy…

a) Step 1 – Design the camp using gravity to reduce energy requirements. For example, we elevated our water tanks, removing the need for a pump to move water around.
b) Step 2 – Research and procure low energy equipment such as refrigerators.
c) Step 3 – Install LED lights that require a much lower demand for power.
d) Step 4 – Install Solar panels and batteries. This optimized system now provides 100% of our energy requirements.

Transportation Strategy

Since driving a Toyota Prius through the desert isn’t a feasible option, we have no option but to choose a more functional vehicle which uses more fuel.
However, fuel efficiency is only part of the equation when calculating a vehicles environmental impact. It has been estimated that around 30-40% of the total greenhouse gas emissions over the life of a vehicle come from its manufacture (up to 60% for a hybrid).  Scrapping creates large quantities of non-recyclable plastics, toxic heavy metals, asbestos, CFCs, PCBs and rubber products, all of which have to be disposed of.  So you can argue that by keeping an old vehicle on the road instead of scrapping it and buying another one is a more eco-friendly option. Since Landcruisers and Hummers used for safari’s need to be replaced every 5 years in Dubai, this means that our 15 Land Rovers have already saved 18 vehicles each from production and scrap and 270 vehicles collectively.

We think that is a pretty powerful eco-credential from the grandfather of the desert. In addition, since these vehicles were built to last, there is a huge demand for second-hand parts, saving these parts from being scrapped and melted down, avoiding yet more environmental damage.

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Different driving situations require additional fuel consumption. Driving at full acceleration obviously demands more fuel than cruising slowly.

As you can see on the grid to the right, the speeds that Landcruisers/Hummers dune bash (black x) compared to our gentle dune drive (red x), utilizes up to 3 times more fuel per km.
This means that the simple “factory” fuel mileage figures are irrelevant due to the harsh driving the vehicles have to endure.

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Support and Education of Conservation

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Representative of 2014 WTO World Responsibility Day
Platinum Heritage was the only representative in the UAE to participate in World Responsible Tourism Day. Started by the United Nations, this day focusses on highlighting the importance tourism operators can play in promoting social, environmental and cultural issues. Platinum Heritage hosted 150 students who conducted a desert clean up session and also learnt about desert conservation, animal welfare and Emirati cuisine and Bedouin life.

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Donation towards Conservation
The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is the largest conservation project in the UAE.
In order to assist the conservationists with their important work, we donate proceeds from each guest.

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Radio Appearances for Dubai Eye 103.8 FM
Appearing on the UAE’s most popular talk back radio station, our Managing Director, takes the chance to speak about desert conservation and what tour companies and the general public can do to help with the protection of the desert eco-system.

 ”About 95% of the animals in the desert live under the desert sand so you don’t see it. So a lot of people because they can’t see it they don’t think it’s there and it’s really sad. So we’re trying to educate the market that dune bashing isn’t this innocent thing, it’s an adventure sport and it should be limited to certain areas because it does a lot of damage”.

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Guest speaking for DTCM on Green Tourism
As a guest speaker for DTCM, our Managing Director has participated over the last few years in talks about “Sustainable Tourism” speaking about the elements to consider in order to run a responsible business. Educating Hoteliers and Tourism Companies about preserving the culture, supporting local communities and contributing towards desert conservation.

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School Education Programs
Understanding that children are the future leaders of our environment and cultural future, we have designed a series of nature based programs such as; Desert Conservation, Conservation Nature Walks, Wildlife Driving and Astronomy.

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Staff Training with Conservationists
Each of our Safari Guides undertake a comprehensive training program with the Conservationists from the Conservation Reserve. The comprehensive training is followed up with verbal and written tests that must be passed in order to be trusted with guests. We only use full time, in-house staff so we can guarantee each of our staff have been trained and tested.

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Free Desert Education Days for Charity Schools
In partnership with Dubai Cares, Platinum Heritage conducts environmental and cultural safaris free of charge to the National Charity School in Garhoud. These disadvantaged students do not have the financial means to participate in external field trips but Platinum Heritage extends this service so all students benefit from the knowledge shared about Bedouin culture and desert conservation.

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Free Teacher Education Field Trips
Platinum Heritage providers Teachers working in disadvantaged schools with free field training in the areas of desert conservation, Bedouin life, animal and plant species, Astronomy and Emirati cuisine and entertainment. We feel that the knowledge gained by these Teachers will trickle down to thousands of students.

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