For our first Story, we want to discuss the true impact of sourcing Certified Elephant Friendly™ Tea. Does it make a real difference for endangered elephants? How much of a difference do improved farming practices make? To answer these questions, we wanted to give you a brief overview – and dive into all of the reasons that this certification is incredibly important for the future of wild elephants.
To start, a little background: Global wildlife conservation-focused certification organization, The Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network, oversees the Elephant Friendly™ Tea certification process, and is the only organization with authority to award certification. They only do so to tea producers that achieve verified compliance with standards. The certification is awarded through a stringent, multi-step application and farm audit process. So far, only a select group of tea producers in the world have met those requirements – including the tea farms and farmers from whom we source our teas.
The certification standards were developed in partnership with University of Montana scientists and with input from a team of experts, and provide evidence-based benchmarks to ensure that best practices for the conservation of endangered Asian elephants are applied on tea farms located in elephant movement areas. Since the risks to elephants from many common tea agriculture practices are well documented, we look to improve these problematic practices and help tea growers achieve full compliance through a process of self-assessment, consultation, audit, remediation of any existing non-compliance issues – and finally, certification as an Elephant Friendly™ Tea producer.
The certification program targets specific practices and is aimed at eliminating risks to wild elephants, ensuring safe passage for elephants between habitat and water sources through tea lands, sustaining the landscape that is vital to wide-ranging elephant populations, and reducing human-elephant conflict through careful planning and management. The monitoring of compliance is ongoing, as tea production is as dynamic as the science of best practices for maintaining conservation of a species while simultaneously working towards sustainable tea production.
The highlights of our Elephant Friendly™ Tea standards include:
Eliminating hazards from live electrical wires and unsafe electrified wire fencing.
Eliminating the risk of elephant poisonings from agrochemicals.
Reducing physical barriers to the safe movement of elephants, including mitigation of the hazards from deep narrow trenches in known elephant corridors.
Eliminating the risk of ingestion of plastic waste, which can do serious harm to elephants.
Eliminating of risks to elephants from hazardous objects, including razor fencing, projectiles, or other items.
Protecting natural elephant habitat and water resources and maintaining access to wild elephants.
Reducing human-elephant conflict (otherwise known as HEC) through careful planning and the engagement of local communities.