We at Happy Campers often introduce new features and initiatives but we have never been more excited to share this latest project with the world: The Happy Forest. We have now officially committed to planting at least 1 tree for every booking we receive. But we also take it a step further and commit to literally planting those trees ourselves, right here in Keflavik, Iceland.
The Happy Forest is our way to minimize our carbon footprint and make our travelers (and ourselves) feel a bit better about their trip. We all share a love for Iceland and this is how we help each other give back to the land that constantly gives us so much. So for each booking that we get, we set aside the funds to plant at least 1 tree in the Happy Forest. We also give our travelers the option to buy more trees to plant, with the incentive to match their contribution. So if you buy an extra 5 trees, we pay for another 5 trees and your booking has contributed 11 trees to the project (1+5+5). This way, we plan on planting tens of thousands of trees – a literal forest – over the next few years.
At the end of each calendar year, we count how many trees we have committed to the project (bookings + extra trees + our match of extra trees). Because of the Icelandic climate, we will then set aside time the following spring, or the third weekend in May to be exact, to plant all of those trees.
Many hands make light work and we wouldn’t be able to do this without help from locals and staff. We consult with a local forester who operates one of the largest private reforestation projects in Iceland to make sure that our trees are planted and fertilized properly. With the right tools, each one of us will then plant around 500 trees per day that weekend, until all of the Happy trees have been planted. Next, we pray for lots of rain and a good survival rate.
We start our project on our own property here at Stapabraut 21, 260 Reykjanesbær. This will be the focus point of the entire project, where anybody can read about it and even plant their own trees during planting season. From here, the Happy Forest will extend to a dedicated lot provided by the government (~14 ha), which runs along Reykjanesbraut (road 41).
This lot will be the home of the Happy Forest for the foreseeable future, although it will eventually outgrow the lot. When that happens, which could be 10-15 years from now, the Forest will move to a new plot close by. Although not finalized, it will most likely simply extend south of Road 41.
Planting trees is always a good thing but it is especially important here in Iceland. When the Vikings settled in Iceland almost 1200 years ago, 30-40% of Iceland was covered in native forest. Settlers began cutting down the forests for fuel, building materials, and charcoal (used for making tools and weapons). Sheep also became an important resource in Iceland so forests were cut down to provide grazing fields. Perhaps worst of all, the sheep grazing prevented regrowth of the birch forests. This led to a staggering deforestation until less than 1% of the island was forested and it wasn’t until around 1950-1980 when things started to turn around.
Today, our society has the overwhelming task of repairing almost 1200 years of deforestation damage. This isn’t done in a year, or a decade for that matter, and it certainly won’t be accomplished by Happy Campers alone. But with increased environmental awareness and interest, both in Iceland and globally, and participation by more larger companies and influential politicians, we can do it together. We are continuously looking for solutions how to reduce our environmental impact. Learn more about all of our green initiatives aimed to make Iceland a greener, Happier place.