Wednesday, 19 January 2005

Rainforests: Imitations or the real thing?

Paignton Zoo is building a new rainforest exhibit in Devon, England, and not so long ago the Eden Project opened at a cost of nearly £100,000,000. While these are very laudable efforts to show the public the importance of rainforests, they are also somewhat depressing to us at the World Land Trust.

Most of the rainforest exhibits in England (as well as other parts of the northern hemisphere) are funded at least partially with public money – grants from the Lottery, government and foundations, but the amount of money these funders are prepared to put to funding real rainforest is absolutely insignificant by comparison. For £100,000, 000 the WLT could save around 10 million acres of land. Eden Project costs £8million a year to run – that's another million acres that could be saved.

Obviously the money spent on Eden and other UK attractions – probably in excess of £50 million a year, is not available for land purchase, but it does put it all into some sort of perspective. If every pound that was spent on seeing these imitation rainforests was matched with a donation for the original thing, the WLT could achieve a lot. I can speak with some authority, as for several years the World Land Trust owned and managed Wyld Court Rainforest, near Newbury (now the Living Rainforest) and compared with raising money for the real thing, fund raising for a glass-house rainforest was a walkover.

Food for thought?

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