Thursday, 12 January 2006

Large Area projects

I have recently received my winter edition of Natural World -- the magazine of the Wildlife Trusts. I am a keen supporter of the Wildlife Trust movement, and would always urge all WLT supporters to also support their local Wildlife Trust. But I thought that the current issue does put the WLT's activities into some sort of perspective. Natural World Contains a special report on 'The 40 large area projects that are helping repair Britain's ecosystems'. If you are not already supporting this initiative then I urge you to consider it. But what really interested me, was what constituted a large area project. Of the 40 projects listed the majority were under 2000 hectares, with several under 1000 hectares. This puts the WLT projects up in the region of giant projects -- our latest project in Paraguay is starting with a land purchase of 3600 hectares (14 square miles), and has a potential for at least twice as much. And with over nearly 500 square miles protected by our Belizean partners, with much of the funding coming from the WLT, it gives an idea of the sort of projects we can undertake.

Of course one of the reasons we are able to do this is that there is a huge differential in land prices. with land in England often around £10,000 an hectare, compared with less than £35 an hectare in parts of South America -- that means we can buy 285 times as much land for every £1.00. And of course the good news does not stop there. Species diversity is also several times greater in tropical areas, so if that is an important issue, it is also more species per £1.00.

The World Land Trust would very much like to support a project to acquire over 160,000 acres (280 square miles)of forests and other wonderful habitats in Belize, but has failed to come up with the £5 million needed -- that's around £30 an acre. In England £5 million might buy a large farm - about 1,000 acres. But our problem is that while it's reasonably easy to raise funds to buy a few acres in England, it is very difficult indeed to raise funds to buy large chunks of rainforest. Does anyone know a rockstar, or city slicker with the odd million to invest in the future of the planet?

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