Get to know Size of Wales’ Forest Projects & Community Outreach Coordinator, Anna Harris, a little better…

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Anna Harris, Forest Projects & Community Outreach Coordinator for Size of Wales

How long have you worked for Size of Wales, and what’s your main role within the organisation?

I have worked at Size for 3 years. My role is split in two. I am Forest Projects Coordinator half of the time. This means I manage all the different aspects of our relationships with the fantastic forest protection projects. The other half of my role is Community Outreach. This is a new programme of work that we’ve been developing. It is all about engaging the public on the topic of climate change, deforestation, trees and forests via the arts and culture. This can also include working in partnership with organisations who work across those sectors. My close relationship with the tropical forest projects really helps feed content and ideas into the community outreach work, helping to galvanise support from the people of Wales for our forest communities. I think the arts and culture are the perfect vessels for evoking that.

What drove you to work within the topic of climate change and forests?

I was becoming increasingly aware of the changes happening to the face of our planet. How human activity is driving that, and the knock-on effect that is having on climate, wildlife populations and communities living in more precarious scenarios than us in the global north. It’s really unsettling, and so I decided I wanted to work in this field, to take action. I’m so fortunate that as I was researching the sector in Wales, I came across Size of Wales. It’s a fantastic organisation whose ethos and ethics are aligned with my own. There really couldn’t be a more key time to be doing the work we’re doing.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

I think it’s the feeling of being part of a global community, a sense of solidarity with the rural communities and indigenous peoples we support. I’ve visited some of the projects and met some of the people who are really on the front line of climate change and its impacts. Just because we’re not all experiencing that yet, we are all responsible for making a more just and sustainable world. I appreciate being able to share the experiences of those communities, trying to garner the same sense of solidarity from the people of Wales.

Is it a cliché to say trees are our future?

The global human population is growing rapidly, and with it, pollution. Trees omit oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, yet tree cover is decreasing rapidly. It doesn’t add up. We literally won’t survive without trees.

They are a holistic, low-cost and impactful way to tackle climate change and sustainable development. In terms of climate action, they are a ready-made, natural solution. We don’t need to wait for new technologies to be invented.

As I see it, trees offer a win-win(-win-win-win) solution and so yes, trees are our future.

Do you have any exciting plans or updates to share about the projects?

Size is moving into a new 5-year strategy, it’s pretty ambitious but as IPCC* said, we now have only 11 years to make any kind of attempt to keep temperature rise within 1.5c. So, developing this and the strategy around our forest projects has been an exciting process. Discussing with my colleagues and others in the sector, researching where is the greatest need and how we can make the biggest impact has been incredibly informative and clarifying. I believe we’re going forward even more expert, more informed and with greater conviction as to the worth of the work we’re doing.

How has being home based, during self-isolation in Spring 2020, affected your work?

I have never used Skype so much! Of course, the transition has been incredibly strange, but this work would be near impossible without technology, so we have to be thankful for that. We have been busy communicating with all our projects to understand how this pandemic is impacting the project, its activities and more importantly, the people in these areas. We will be working to support them as the situation develops.

Plenty of our priorities have been adjusted but as I said, we’re an agile team and we’re pushing forward as best we can, time is of the essence.

Any final comments?

I think I would just ask everyone to do their bit: of course, to donate to Size of Wales! But also, to switch to renewable energy, put pressure on governments, large corporations and even your own employers to divest from fossil fuel industries and other harmful activities/industries such as those causing deforestation. And to appreciate the natural world, it’s not to be taken for granted.

*The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.

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