Friday, 14 December 2007

A Record Year for the World Land Trust

2007 has already surpassed all previous years in the World Land Trust's history. Records have been broken for both funds raised, and funds sent overseas for land purchase. This has also meant that there have been modest increases in the WLT's staff so that we can handle all the enquiries, and meet with all the potential corporate sponsors. But we must emphasise, that despite corporate donors giving £100,000 or even $1million donations, it is still the individual supporters, and in particular our regularly donating Partners that are the strength of the Trust. Donating £5 a month, plus the government's contribution of gift aid means we can plan ahead.

Christmas is a time for giving so do help us build on the success of 2007. We are close to raising a total of £2 million, which added to the $1 million plus raised in the USA will make a total of well over $5 million. This means we can make a real difference to the future of the world's wildlife.

So why not add a few more gift acres or hectares to your Christmas list? And if you haven't done so already, consider signing up as a regular Partner, donating £5 (a bottle of table wine) a month? It will help save, and manage at least a hectare of land in the course of the year.

Since we started less than 20 years ago, the WLT and its partners have already saved more land than the RSPB and the County naturalists' trusts put together. And because it's mostly in the tropics, the species diversity is huge. So how about saving another acre?

500 million people in India without toilets

It was recently reported that the Indian government has pledged $225 million to build toilets for the country's poor, and ensure everyone has toilets by 2012.

The implications of this are quite startling. Just think about it. 500,000,000 people do not have toilets at present. How much water, and how much paper will be needed. Scary? But why should we deny people access to facilities we all enjoy?

There are 1.2 billion people in India, and the standard of living is rising rapidly. Wildlife is being squeezed on all sides. We have to face the facts that land for wildlife is becoming an ever more restricted feature, and ever more valuable. It has to 'compete' on the open market -- and this means it can cost as much as £5000 an acre -- that's getting on for $25,000 a hectare. But that's the issue -- the more important the land is, the more expensive it will be. The more threatened it is, the higher the price. We have to bite the bullet and face these facts. We may be able to buy rainforest in South America at $100 an acre -- but it is remote and relatively inaccessible. So to any readers who are concerned about some of the most threatened species of all, you just have to be realistic, and know that £5000 or $10,000 may not buy a huge area, but it may be life or death to tigers and other threatened Asian wildlife.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

There's a lot of dodgy greenwash out there

Over the past few months, the WLT has been approached by several businesses, that after doing extensive research, came to the WLT because they decided that many other organisations were just not transparent enough. They also came to us because it was clear that some of the carbon offsetting organisations were simply in the business of making money. With major financial institutions, such as Allied Irish Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers and others choosing to support the World Land Trust we know we are on the right track.

When I look at other websites, I am always astounded how difficult it often is to actually find out anything about the organisation itself. Who are the staff, what do they do? Who are the Trustees, what is their expertise? Who are they endorsed by? And the Annual Report and Accounts. And last, but not least, what are their real achievements?

We also make a point of being available, so that when a donor, whether it is for £25 or £250,000, phones or emails they are dealt with by someone who is knowledgeable, and can answer most of their questions.

But at present, it is certainly caveat emptor -- there are too many organisations saving forests, offsetting carbon, without any real substance behind them. It's actually quite difficult to do it properly -- long term monitoring is not easy to set up. Which is why we are confident that we provide a 5* service. But monitoring reforestation for 20 years, ensuring that the ownership is secure is complex and time consuming, requiring first rate partners, with extensive experience.

We do not claim it is easy -- we know, it is nothing like as easy as it is often made out to be. We do not claim to be the cheapest, in fact we don't really like doing carbon offsets at all. We like saving biodiversity -- avoided deforestation. It's not only cheaper to buy existing forests, it's a much more effective way of reducing greenhouse gases. And this is not bandwagon jumping -- we were doing all these things six years ago, before it became trendy. And we will still be doing it when it is no longer fashionable. The only problem with the current vogue, is that it has allowed a lot of operations to raise a lot of money, with no guarantee that in 20 years time their forests will still be in existence.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007


I don't think I need to comment further

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Putting the Con in Conservation.

Marwell Zoo, in Hampshire England, is the most recent in a long line of perpetrators of a myth.

A folder used by their Markettng and Education Departments, is beautifully produced, and contains the following quotation:

"What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast also happens to man." Chief Seattle, 1855.

As anyone who knows anything about North American Indians, this is one of the great 20th century frauds. The speech was actually written by a scripwriter who worked for Disney, in the 1950s. There never was a "Chief Seattle". But it sounds plausible, perpetrates the myth of the noble savage, and Friends of the Earth are also among the numerous conservation bodies who have been conned by it.

If you don't believe me, try typing "Chief Seattle fraud" into google.....