RSPB Cymru measures up to the Size of Wales

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Size of Wales enlists RSPB Cymru in its bid to protect and conserve rainforests

RSPB Cymru will help protect an area of rainforest the size of Wales through continued support of its Gola Forest Programme in Sierre Leone, Africa.

Katie-Jo Luxton, Director for the RSPB Cymru said: “The Size of Wales is a fantastic initiative and we are thrilled to announce our involvement. Bringing the people of Wales together for an international cause is a great reflection of how collectively we can make a bigger impact in tackling climate change”

Launched in 2010 by HRH the Prince of Wales,  Size of Wales was set up to unite politicians, companies, organisations and individuals in a common goal of protecting and conserving an area of rainforest, the size of Wales.

Hannah Scrase, Project Manager of Size of Wales said: “An area the size of Wales’ is frequently used to measure the rate of forest destruction. Through Size of Wales we aim to turn that negative use of the country’s size on its head, by encouraging the people of Wales to take positive action and help protect an area of tropical forest equivalent to the size of our nation.”

“We are very pleased to have RSPB Cymru on board. The Gola Forest is a ‘biodiversity hotspot’ under threat from logging and mining. Funds raised by supporters of RSPB’s forest project will be protecting 70,000 hectares of rainforest in one of the world’s poorest countries”

In 1990, the RSPB teamed up with the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) and the Forestry Division of the Government of Sierra Leone to form the Gola Forest Programme. The main objective was to protect and preserve up to 75,000 hectares of rainforest in Gola.

Through engagement and employment of over 100 Sierra Leonean staff, the project has delivered economic, environmental and social benefits to the local communities. Local staff and conservationists also play a vital role in the protection of over 300 species of birds, including 18 rare or threatened species.

2011, marks an important year for the Gola Forest Programme since its obtained National Park status. Gola is now the second National Park in Sierra Leone.

The Gola Forest Programme is primarily funded by the European Union and the Fonds Français Pour l’Environnement Mondial, who donated funds to run from 2007 – 2012. Given that there is still call for project development and sustainability, the RSPB are hopeful that there will be significant interest in funding for this remarkable project over the next year.

Funding is required to ensure that key activities of the project are maintained such as salaries for the local staff so that they can efectively protect Gola’s rare and threatened species, and also for ongoing community development projects such as farming support, school removation, wells and clinics.

Dr Tim Stowe, Director of International Operations for the RSPB, said: “The Gola Forest Programme  is showing the importance of looking at the bigger picture, working on an international platform to protect wildlife, support local communities and tackle climate change.”

The destruction of the rainforest accounts for a quarter of the world’s carbon emissions. This is more than the entire world’s transport put together. Loss of tropical forests is also threatening the habitat of over 50% of the world’s species and the welfare of some of the world’s poorest populations.

Wales is set to become the first country in the world to mobilise a national response to deforestation and climate change. Last week, Cardiff-based Waterloo Foundation pledged to match every pound raised towards saving an area of rainforest the Size of Wales up to a total of £1 million.

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