Eco Rating Finca Esperanza Verde

Name of property Finca Esperanza Verde
Person completing this form Gifford Laube
Position General Manager
Address of property Comarca La Chispa, Comunidad de Yúcul, Municipio de San Ramón, Departamento de Matagalpa
Country Nicaragua
Phone number including country code and area code Country Code 505  772-5003
Web site Finca Esperanza Verde
E-mail fincaesperanzaverde@gmail.com
Type of property Private Nature Reserve and Organic Coffee Farm
Number of rooms or cottages 7 rooms total, 4 cabins
Maximum number of guests 26
Eco memberships TIES
Eco ratings, certifications, awards 2004 – Smithsonian Award for Conservation, ToDo! Award, INTUR Best EcoLodge in Nicaragua2007 – Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards Best Small HotelEco Rating Eco Tropical Resorts: 4.2 out of 5.
  • Do you have a written environmental or social sustainability policy?     YES

If yes, please attach.
Please see attached document “Sistema de Gestión Socio-Ambiental”

  • Do you have a written environmental management system?              YES

If yes, please attach.
Please see attached document “Sistema de Gestión Socio-Ambiental”

  • Describe the property – aim, size, facilities, amount of land owned and leased  (150 words max)

Finca Esperanza Verde seeks to provide quality local employment in the county of San Ramón, creating opportunities that preserve the natural patrimony of Northern Nicaragua.  Finca Esperanza Verde employs over 35 people, all of whom (with the exception of the Manager) are native San Ramoneños.
Finca Esperanza Verde’s activities center around two primary activities:  Ecotourism and organic coffee production.  Approximately 25 people work in the tourism sector, while 10 work in coffee production.
Finca Esperanza Verde is a project of the NGO “Sister Communities of San Ramón” with its principle office in Durham, North Carolina, USA.  The project was founded in 1998, while the NGO officially came into existence in 1993.  The entire area of the finca is 260 acres, with only 25 under coffee production and 150 protected as Reserva Silvestre Privada, an official Nicaraguan government designation similar to a National Park, under private ownership.

  • Describe the location, including distance to nearest town and size of town (100 words max)

Finca Esperanza Verde is located almost in the exact geographical center of Nicaragua, although Matagalpa is considered “the North” to most Nicaraguans.  We are located in the county of San Ramón, about 40 kilometers from the city of Matagalpa (the department or state capital).  The actual location of FEV is completely rural, but the town of San Ramón (about 18 kilometers from the finca) has about 5,000 inhabitants.  The local community is typical of small-town Central America, with the vast majority of the population dedicated to small-scale agriculture and coffee farming.

  • Describe WHY you made the decision to develop an eco resort (100 word max)

Sister Communities of San Ramón, a registered NGO in both the United States and Nicaragua, has worked for over 15 years to improve the standard of living in San Ramon.  Finca Esperanza Verde hopes to help develop the municipality internally, instead of simply relying on donations or external intervention.  By creating quality local employment that protects the natural patrimony of the county, FEV provides an alternative to people who might otherwise be forced to migrate in order to find employment or chose less-sustainable alternative agricultural practices.

Introduction to the Butterfly Club’s Eco Rating

The Butterfly Club Eco Rating has five equally-weighted categories:

  • Energy;
  • Water;
  • Recycling and waste;
  • Land and nature conservation; and
  • Community.

Each category has five levels, designated by one to five butterflies.  Through self assessment, resort operators completing this rating will determine their own levels within each category based on their responses to items listed below.

Two categories – energy and water – have similar rating systems with Levels 1 and 2 addressing conservation of existing resources, and Levels 3, 4 and 5 addressing creation of renewable energy or capturing water.

Level five in every category also requires written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record consumption; (2) test and apply additional conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific targets.   We require a copy of your policies if you achieve level 5 in any category.

Eco Rating Finca Esperanza Verde Energy

Levels 1 and 2 – conservation: Check all that apply:

_X__  use natural air circulation and fans, not air conditioners
_X__  use natural light during the day
_X__  minimize use of fossil-fuel powered vehicles, machines and equipment
_X__  use “on demand” or solar heating for hot water
_X__  air dry clothes/linens
_X__  wash dishes by hand
_X__  use energy efficient appliances and electronics
_X__  use low wattage fluorescent light bulbs
_X__  change linens, tablecloths, napkins upon request
_X__  switch off lights when not used
Other energy conservation activities? Please list:

Level 1 = four or fewer energy conservation activities

Level 2 = five or more energy conservation activities

Please refer to our “Sistema de Gestion Socio-Ambiental” for all our policies and protocols.

Levels 3, 4 and 5 – renewable energy: Indicate proportion (%) of energy from each source:

_33%__  solar
_0%__  wind
_66%__  hydro
_0%_  generator
_0%__  public utility
Other energy sources? Please list:

100% TOTAL
How were these proportions developed?

I am guessing about the actual percentages regarding solar and hydro energy, based on the cloudiness of FEV and the fact that the hydro can run all night and powers our more energy-needy (refrigerators) appliances.  However, the important detail is that we do not use any fossil fuels (generators) for creating energy, nor are we part of “the grid” (using power from conventional sources, power lines, etc.)

Level 3 = renewable energy is employed and is less than 1/3 of all energy

Level 4 = renewable energy constitutes 1/3 – 2/3 of all energy

Level 5 = renewable energy constitutes 2/3 or more of all energy.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record energy consumption; (2) test and apply additional energy conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific energy targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Energy Level 5 (required).

Your Energy Level (select 1 – 5) =   4

Eco Rating Finca Esperanza Verde Water

Levels 1 and 2 – conservation: Check all that apply:

_X_  low flow faucets and showerheads
_X_  low water use toilets
_X_  change linens, towels, tablecloths, and napkins upon request
_X__use table mats that can be wiped and not laundered
__  use biodegradable laundry detergent, dish soap and hand soap
_N/A_  treat swimming pool with chlorine-free processes
Other water conservation activities?  Please list.

Level 1 = three or fewer water conservation activities

Level 2 = four or more water conservation activities

Levels 3, 4 and 5 – capture and treat fresh water and manage waste water. Capture water: Indicate proportion (%) of water from each source:

_100%__  spring
__0_  river
__0_  rain
__0_  reuse gray
__0_  public utility
Other water sources? Please list.

100% TOTAL

Fresh water treatment: how is captured fresh water treated?
_X__  naturally.  Indicate method: charcoal, ultraviolet light, other? List:   We evaluate our water source twice during the year to assure that the water is potable.  Our analyses have always revealed our water to be quality and suitable for human consumption.  For safety’s sake, we then pass this water through a “Filtron”  which is basically a clay pot filter.  This appropriate technology is used frequently in Nicaragua and eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and microbe caused illnesses.
___  chemically.  List chemicals used:

Waste water management:
__X_  septic tanks
___  cesspools
__X_  other? List methods:  We have multiple septic tanks that then allow the excess water and aerobic material to flow into a leach field, which turns the aerobic material (minimal) into anaerobic material.

Level 3: Water is captured (from springs, rivers, rain or prior use) and constitutes less than 1/3 of water from all sources.  Water is treated chemically.  Water disposal does not minimize damage to coral reefs and rain forests

Level 4:  Captured water constitutes 1/3 to 2/3 of all water.  Water is treated naturally. Water disposal minimizes damage to coral reefs and rain forests

Level 5:  Captured water constitutes more than 2/3 of all water.  Water is treated naturally. Water disposal minimizes damage to coral reefs and rain forests.   In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record water consumption; (2) test and apply additional water conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific water targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Water Level 5 (required). Please refer to our “Sistema de Gestion Socio-Ambiental” for all our policies and protocols.

Your Water Level (select 1 – 5): 5

Eco Rating Finca Esperanza Verde Recycling and waste

Check all that apply:

_X__   use durable service items, e.g. cups, glasses, dishes, tableware, storage items
_X__   buy fresh and local to reduce packaging and emissions from transportation
_X__   purchase in bulk to reduce packaging
___   recycle paper, glass, plastic, aluminum
___   minimize emissions from fossil-fuel powered vehicles, machines & equipment
___   zero waste in the kitchen
_X__   serve local water, not bottled water
___   cleaning products are biodegradable
_X__   compost organic matter
Other methods to recycle waste? Please list.

Level 1 = four or fewer recycling activities

Level 2 = five recycling activities

Level 3 = six recycling activities

Level 4 = seven recycling activities

Level 5 = eight or more recycling activities.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record recycling and waste; (2) test and apply additional recycling and waste conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific recycling and waste targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Recycling and Waste Level 5 (required).

Your Recycling and Waste Level (select 1 – 5): 2

Eco Rating Finca Esperanza Verde Recycling and waste Land and nature conservation

Check all that apply:

_X__   minimize tree removal when building
_X__   use only botanical (plant-based) herbicides & pesticides in garden & grounds
_X__   maintain organic gardens as food source for resort
_X__   use biodegradable cleaning products
_X__   minimize external illumination
_X__   take additional specific actions to preserve the local habitat.  Please list actions and projects:  We actively reforest the land every year.  We are organically certified for coffee production (BioLatina).  We are currently finishing our Rainforest Alliance certification process for coffee farms.

Level 1: one or two land and nature conservation activities

Level 2: three land and nature conservation activities

Level 3: four land and nature conservation activities

Level 4: five land and nature conservation activities

Level 5: six or more land and nature conservation activities.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record land and nature conservation activities; (2) test and apply additional land and nature conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific land and nature conservation targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Land and Nature Conservation Level 5 (required).  Please refer to our “Sistema de Gestion Socio-Ambiental” for all our policies and protocols

Your Land and Nature Conservation Level (select 1 – 5): 5

Eco Rating Finca Esperanza Verde Community

This category addresses policies and activities regarding staff, guests, suppliers and other members of the community.

Check all activities that apply:

_X__  hire staff residing near the resort          _97% local nationals
_X__  use local suppliers                                _85% purchased goods produced locally
_X__  re-invest resort income locally            _65% income re-invested locally
_X__  pay above local prevailing wage
_X__  pay into local social security
_X__  provide health insurance or coverage
_X__  use regular staff meetings to educate staff about sustainable processes throughout the resort, in the garden, with waste disposal, etc
_X__  provide educational awareness programs for staff, guests, suppliers and other members of the local community
_X__  provide sustainable transport to work for staff
_X__  take additional specific actions to support the local community. Please list actions and projects.  10% of all income from group visits to the finca goes directly to the SCSRN project fund.  We support the construction of local primary schools, water projects, school kitchens, teacher salaries, cultural events (arts and dance festivals), and small entrepreneurship.

Level 1: one or two community activities

Level 2: three to five community activities

Level 3: six to seven community activities

Level 4: eight to nine community activities

Level 5: ten or more community activities.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record community activities; (2) test and apply additional methods to support the community; and (3) work towards specific community targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Community Level 5 (required).

Your Community Level (select 1 – 5): 5

YOUR OVERALL ECO SCORE (add your level for each category and divide by 5):   4.2

We have three final questions which are not part of the eco rating: 

  • Please describe your single most important eco achievement:

Our commitment to alternative, sustainable energy sources has proven to be both visionary and educational in a Nicaragua that continues to actively seek out alternative energy programs.  Countless visitors to the finca have marvelled and been influenced by our practices, especially our hydro-electric generator (I even gave a tour/explanation yesterday to a German woman that took pictures and notes to share with a community in Guatemala where she lives).  This commitment to spreading sustainable practices and sharing information with interested parties is undoubtedly the most important impact of FEV, taking our message beyond our physical borders and influencing the opinions and actions of those who visit us.

  • Indicate additional sustainable practices that you plan to institute within the next 6 months.

We hope to install a biodigestor to process the waste water produced by our coffee wet-milling activities.  We currently have organically certified sedimentation pools, proven to have little to no negative environmental impact.  But we would like to take this process one step further, actually recycling this waste water and turning it into something productive, and educational.  If we successfully install the biodigestor, we hope to produce gas that we can then use for cooking in our kitchen.  We also hope to present the biodigestor to visitors and neighboring coffee farms as a possibility for their operations.

  • Is there anything else you would like to add to this eco rating?