Size of Wales brings everyone in Wales together to help protect an area of tropical forest twice the size of Wales as part of a national response to climate change.

‘An area the size of Wales’ is frequently used to measure the rate of forest destruction. Through Size of Wales, we are turning that negative use of the country’s size on its head.

Thanks to the brilliant support of Wales, Size of Wales successfully reached the target of helping  to protect 2 million hectares of forest (the size of Wales!) in 2013. Soon after, we decided the obvious next step was to double this impact, and aim to protect an area of rainforest twice the size of our nation!

Size of Wales encourages the people of Wales to help tackle climate change by taking simple positive actions. We work with schools and businesses to raise funds for forests and raise awareness of the importance of forests in tackling climate change.

Deforestation and degredation of the world’s forests causes more CO2 emissions than all the worlds transport combined (meaning planes, trains, cars, vans and ships!). Size of Wales works with forest projects in Africa and South America to help conserve existing tropical forests and support sustainable management of forests. All our projects work directly with forest communities in country. Our projects in South America currently equal over 2 million hectares, and we are now aiming to protect another 2 million hectares in Africa. Find out more about the projects we work with on project map on our homepage.

We also work with a flagship tree planting project which aims to plant 10 Million Trees and increases forest cover in Uganda. This project also plants a tree for every child born or adopted in Wales, as part of the Welsh Government’s innovative Plant! scheme. For more information on the Plant! scheme see here.


The Idea

After a long history of deforestation in Wales, we are now gradually increasing our forest cover and protecting our existing woodland. However, from both a climate change and poverty reduction perspective, it is the destruction of forests in the tropics, which truly threatens the world’s climate, as well as the basic needs of food, shelter and livelihoods for people living there.

Initially set up by  the Commissioner for Sustainable Futures, Peter Davies and Chair of the Waterloo Foundation, Heather Stevens, as part of Wales’ response to the dual challenges of climate change and international poverty reduction, Size of Wales is now an independent charity


The Money

Size of Wales is an independent charity. Our core costs are co-funded by the Welsh Government, The Waterloo Foundation and the Ajahma Trust, which means that all funds raised go to our forest projects.



What is Size of Wales doing?

We are bringing together people in Wales and beyond to help protect four million hectares of tropical forests. Helping to reduce deforestation is part of Wales’ response to the challenge of climate change; it needs to be in addition to reducing our own emissions not instead of. We are also raising awareness about how vital tropical forests are for us and our climate as well as for the wildlife and people who live in them. We work in schools and colleges to engage children and young people in understanding and sharing responsibility for the protection of the world’s forests. We work with businesses, government and communities in Wales linking them with specific tropical forest areas, helping them to raise funds for the projects working to conserve those areas and doubling their fundraising efforts with our match fund.

Since being launched in 2010 Size of Wales has supported 2.4 million hectares of tropical forest and supported over 43,000 people from forest communities. In Wales we have inspired over 32,000 children and young people on rainforest issues and reached millions of people in Wales and around the world with our messages about the importance of tropical forests through our press, radio, television and social media work.

How big is Wales?

Wales is an area of 2 million hectares. Put another way – that’s 2 million rugby pitches. That doesn’t seem very big when you hear that 13 million hectares of forest are lost every year but helping to protect an area the same size as our nation is an important achievement and a challenge to others. We are setting a benchmark, we just need other bigger developed countries to step up and match our achievement.

You reached 2m ha, what are you doing next?

Building on the momentum of our success, we are now aiming to help protect 4 million hectares of tropical forest, or an area twice the size of Wales! We are continuing to double donations for our forest conservation projects, thanks to our generous match fund. We aim to continue building strong and supportive links between Wales and the tropical forest areas and to work with more people in Wales (especially young people and businesses) to raise vital funds and increase understanding of the issues.

How much does it cost?

All the projects we support are very different and cost different amounts per hectare depending on the approach they are taking and on the nature of the threats to the forest. For example, land rights and protected area projects are less intensive (and less expensive) per hectare than tree planting projects – but both are vital. In total we are aiming to raise £340,000 per year including match funding

For more information about the costs of each project go to Projects and click on the project you are interested in.

How will you double my money?

Our cost costs are kept low with a small team, a modest office and lots of creativity – but importantly none of it comes out of your donations. Our running costs are covered by The Waterloo Foundation and The Welsh Government so all your donations go straight to the forest projects (once we have doubled them that is!). The Waterloo Foundation provides our generous and innovative match fund.

How do I know my contribution won’t be wasted?

We have chosen forest conservation projects that are being delivered by well established UK registered charities. In most cases they work in partnership with non profit organisations on the ground, providing technical support, monitoring, evaluation and reporting.

The Charity Commission monitors the activities and accounts of the registered charities that we fund the projects through. We choose projects that are not simplistic in their approach and which are responding to the complex and very real challenges faced by the people living in and around forests by working closely with those communities. There is no doubt that our projects are in environments that are challenging in many ways, but they are also in areas of greatest need (for example, the deforestation and poverty rates in Africa are amongst the highest in the world). We cannot guarantee 100% success in every project; if it was easy the problems would have been solved long ago; but, by working through a system of trusted partners with good track records who are regulated by the UK Charity Commission and are working with local groups on the ground we can ensure the funds raised are responsibly spent. We also get regular updates from the projects about progress and are happy to discuss details with partners or donors or to put you in touch with someone in the project who can answer your questions if we can’t.

Who is monitoring the projects?

This will depend on the scale of the project and the risks associated with it. We need a good balance between the strength and independence of the monitoring and the cost of the monitoring. The progress of the projects is monitored and reported on by the UK registered charities that oversee the implementation and by the Welsh Government Wales for Africa Team in the case of the Mbale Tree Planting Project. We are also working with a team of experts from the University of Wales in Bangor who helped us choose the projects by independently applying our evaluation criteria which look at issues such as long term sustainability, track record of delivery partners, cost effectiveness and environmental impact.

Please contact us for details of monitoring for the project you are interested in.

Where are you working?

We are supporting 6 forest conservation projects, 2 in South America (in Guyana and Peru) and 4 in Africa (in Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Kenya). We also support our flagship tree planting project in Uganda. See all our projects here.

Why are you not conserving or planting forests in Wales?

After a long history of deforestation in Wales, we are now increasing our forest cover gradually and our existing forests are generally fairly well protected. There are a number of organisations in Wales which are actively protecting and expanding our native forests, including Natural Resources Wales, Coed Cymru and the Woodland Trust. From both a climate change and poverty reduction perspective the frontline of deforestation is very firmly in the tropics and we want Wales to become a world force in addressing the challenge.

We are working in partnership with the Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales and Woodland Trust on their PLANT! programme which plants a tree in Wales for every new child born or adopted in Wales. From April 1st 2014 every child born or adopted in Wales will get two trees planted in their name, one in Wales which they can visit as they grow up, and one in Mbale in Uganda. This is a fantastic way to link what we do here with what we do in other parts of the world.

Can I buy some rainforest?

Size of Wales believes strongly that we should support the people who live in and around the forests to look after them and pass them on to their children rather than take their forests away from them by buying them. Deforestation rates have been shown to decrease where indigenous people have ownership of them, this is partly because they have a long term interest in keeping them standing and healthy for their children and grandchildren. They are the people who best understand the forest around them and also who need the forests for their very survival.

Can I visit the forest/community I am supporting?

In some cases this is possible (get in touch with us for more details) but we don’t want to encourage large numbers of people to fly as it defeats one of our goals if we reduce carbon emissions from deforestation but cause more carbon emissions by flying people out to visit. We will ensure that regular updates and news from the project areas are shared with the people supporting the projects.

Have any other countries joined in?

Inspired by our efforts, Size of Herefordshire has already been established and is gathering momentum. We've had early discussions from many groups who want to take on their own 'Size of' project. Although they are completely independent from Size of Wales we really welcome these projects and are doing what we can to help them get off the ground. If you'd like to set up your own 'Size of' campaign, do get in touch.

What can I do?

There are loads of things you can do, whether you’re interested in getting involved as an individual, a school, a community group or a business. For simple one off actions, you can follow us on Facebook or Twitter and share it with your friends, or book an assembly and workshop for your school. If you’re looking to go further, your workplace could sign up as a partner or your school can become a Size of Wales school . You could also do some fun fundraising! From sponsored runs to bake sales to joining our annual Go Green Day, or of course you can think of your own ideas! One supporter did a sponsored run all the way from Edinburgh to London via Cardiff, and another organised a Zumba session at lunch time, while others have arranged tea parties and comedy nights. There are loads of ideas and help on our Get Involved pages. Or check out our Schools, or Partners pages for more info.

Can someone come and talk to our group / town / company about the project?

We love any chance to tell people about climate change and the importance of tropical forests but we are a very small team with a huge amount going. Please do get in touch and we'll do what we can but please understand if we can’t accommodate your request. For schools we have a dedicated Education Outreach team available. If you workplace becomes a partner we will of course do our very best to support any fundraising efforts. Contact us at [email protected] to ask.