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Size of Wales Hits 2 million Forest Target

1st March 2013, St David’s Day: Environmental charity, Size of Wales, has achieved its ambitious target of raising £2 million to help to protect 2 million hectares of tropical forest as part of its national response to climate change. Wales is the first country in the world to help protect an area of tropical forest equivalent to its size.
Size of Wales is now set to become a model for action around the world as other countries set their own forest protection targets: Denmark is considering launching a tropical forest initiative equivalent to its size (4 million hectares) and Ireland has launched the Size of Phoenix Park project as a first step in improving tropical forest protection. Size of Wales is encouraging all countries to consider setting up similar forest protection projects.

Congratulating the charity on its success, and the people of Wales for their generosity, Wales’ Environment Minister, John Griffiths said “I am very proud of Wales. We are the first country in the world to help to protect an area of tropical forests equivalent to its own size and I am calling on other countries to follow our lead - for the benefit of our climate, our forests and the wildlife and people that depend upon them.”

Inspired by HRH The Prince of Wales’ work to protect tropical forests, Size of Wales was launched at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales in September 2010 in association with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action. Today (1st March 3013) HRH The Prince of Wales will visit the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff, a Size of Wales partner, where he will be presented with an FSC-certified clarinet made from wood derived from the The Mpingo Conservation & Development Initiative(www.mpingoconservation.org) - a Size of Wales community forest project in Tanzania.

HRH The Prince of Wales: “Size of Wales is an impressive example of Wales’ commitment to positive ‘hands on’ action to help protect the world’s forests and our climate. Helping to sustain an area of tropical forest equivalent in size to 2 million rugby pitches is a significant achievement and, importantly, shows great leadership to other nations around the world.”

Twenty projects in Africa and Latin America have now benefitted from the £2 million raised, including the One Million Trees project in Mbale, Uganda – the first fully funded Size of Wales project run in partnership with the Welsh government as part of its Wales for Africa programme.  “The Mbale One Million Trees Project has really made a difference for us. Uganda has suffered from devastating landslides as a result of deforestation and this tree planting project is helping to stabilise the soil to prevent further disasters and provide shade for better food crops. None of this would have been possible without the support of the Welsh government and the people of Wales.” Rogers Wasibi, Manager, One Million Trees Project, Mbale, Uganda. HRH The Prince of Wales will meet Rogers Wasibi at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama to put the final piece in the Size of Wales jigsaw and to celebrate the success of this project.

Forests play a vital role in stabilising the world’s climate and international experts will meet at The World Forests Summit in Stockholm next week (5-6 March) to look at ways in which forests can help to combat climate change. Tropical rainforests, including both intact forests and regrowth, absorb about one third of the world’s man-made carbon emissions but this is cancelled out by the carbon emissions caused by tropical forest destruction. Tropical forests are also crucial for storing water, regulating rainfall and preventing floods, droughts and erosion, as well as producing much of the oxygen we need to survive. But the destruction of the world’s rainforests continues at an alarming rate: 12 million hectares are being destroyed each year – 4 million hectares each year in Africa alone.

“There is a clear link between forest protection and stabilising the world’s climate. Whilst other countries are talking about what can be done, the Welsh nation has responded to the challenge and met the Size of Wales target   - helping to protect forests in some of the world’s poorest countries and helping to protect our climate by reducing carbon emissions.”  Hannah Scrase, Director, Size of Wales.

Protecting forests can be dramatically more cost effective than some other ways of reducing carbon emissions. For example, figures from the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) recently showed that, between 2008 and 2010, preventing deforestation was 875 times cheaper than efforts to reduce emissions under the European Union Trading Scheme. The UK government, together with Australia, Germany, Norway and the US, issued a joint statement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha (December 2012) highlighting the urgency of tackling deforestation in a bid to mitigate climate change. The challenge now is to turn this into action on the ground.

 “Reducing rampant deforestation is important but not just for carbon reduction. It is a global imperative in a move towards a more responsible and equitable use of Natural Capital. This underpins wealth creation in the world economy and the security of water, energy, food and health for millions of people. Size of Wales has offered a solution which other developed countries could adopt. We need to act now, before it is too late - protecting tropical forests will help to tackle climate change and will make a real difference to the people and wildlife which depend upon forests for their survival.” Andrew Mitchell, Founder and Executive Director, Global Canopy Programme.

With the support of The Waterloo Foundation based in Cardiff and the Welsh government, Size of Wales will continue to raise money for tropical forests in Africa and South America, focusing on key projects in Congo Brazzaville, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Guyana. Size of Wales is now calling on the Welsh nation to renew its commitment to tackling deforestation and to continue to raise money to help to keep these forests safe for the benefit of local communities and the world’s climate.

Story courtesy of Cynnal Cumru 

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