'Making the trees worth more alive than dead’ is the uncomplicated slogan of the Prince's Rainforests Project, which was set up in 2007 to try to do just that.
A long time supporter of the cause, reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change led Prince Charles to establish the charity two years ago and declare:
'If we lose the battle against tropical deforestation, we lose the battle against climate change.'
The Rainforests Project has two main objectives. The first is to convey the seriousness of current levels of tropical deforestation and the negative effects this will have on the planet, regardless of our distance to the nearest rainforest. A prominently placed widget on the project website drives the point home: digits race by in a counter at lightning speed, recording how many square metres of rainforest have been destroyed since you logged on to the website.
Fortunately, the Project goes beyond reciting the frightening statistics. Its second objective is to understand why tropical deforestation is occurring in the first place – much is caused by forest clearance for subsistence agriculture by people fighting to survive.
In response, The Rainforests Project published the Emergency Package in April 2009 – a document outlining a funding scheme for developing nations, offering alternative sources of income other than those gained through deforestation. The report suggests investing in existing agriculture, and paying farmers for preserving forest on their land.
The Rainforests Project latest offering is a free online booklet entitled Rainforests: The Burning Issue (also downloadable as a PDF).
Flipping digitally through the booklet reveals photographs from award-winning nature photographer Daniel Beltrá, quotes from the Project’s more famous supporters (including Stephen Fry, Robin Williams and Harrison Ford) and embedded video interviews with experts in the field such as Sir David Attenborough.
Many bite-sized factoids and drawings illustrate the importance of rainforests, their connections with climate change, the dangers they currently face from development and what can be done to reverse the damage.
The scope for individual action in saving rainforests is limited: something highlighted by the somewhat disappointing 'what you can do' section in the online booklet. What needs to happen is for a groundswell of public support to emerge that will give politicians confidence to push for strong climate agreements. This is where the Prince's Rainforests Project really comes into play, offering people the opportunity to leave messages of support alongside the likes of Daniel Craig and Princes William and Harry.
To read more or leave your message, use the interactive panel (right) or visit the project website here
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