Habitat loss is the greatest threat facing humans and wildlife worldwide and conservation is now the cornerstone to ensuring our survival.
We believe that by focusing on protecting the loss of critical habitats, we are taking the best action to ensure a greener legacy for all. To do this, we have teamed up with the World Land Trust whose passion and expertise have created tangible and long-term viable solutions with their pioneering programmes: Buy an Acre, Keepers of the Wild and Plant a Tree.
WHY DID WE CHOOSE THE BUY AN ACRE PROGRAMME?
Well-planned tree-planting projects are an important component of global efforts to improve ecological and human well-being for sure, but protecting existing habitats allows for the preservation of not just forests but the wildlife that depends on them.
The Buy an Acre programme is a great example of a truly holistic initiative that addresses the inherent complexity in the protection of both the environment and wildlife.
The programme safeguards key habitats that took many lifetimes to develop and whose destruction affects the complex ecosystems that support both flora and fauna. Protection of these habitats not only limits deforestation, which is a major source of greenhouse emissions, but buying smaller parcels of land connects up larger protected habitats. This helps to create an unbroken habitat that enables wildlife to roam for food and mating, and alleviates the risk of wildlife wandering into unprotected areas.
WHAT ABOUT REFORESTATION AND PLANTING TREES?
Planting trees is always a good thing, especially as it is something that can be done by individuals and local communities to foster awareness. It allows people to connect with and learn about nature to a much greater degree which will ultimately alter the collective consciousness for a greener future.
People have been planting trees to restock forests for a very long time. In the 13th century, Portugal’s King Afonso III had a pine forest planted, known as the Pinhal do Rei, to hold back encroaching sand dunes.
Earlier still, the Zhou Empire, which ruled China from 1100 B.C. to 256 B.C., created a forest service specifically dedicated to preserving natural forests and replanting cut forests.
Indigenous communities have practised ecological restoration (the re-establishment of forest to their original state) for thousands of years.
Tree planting as a means of replacing functional native forests is a much more recent endeavour. It’s a direct result of the massive acceleration in consumption during the industrial revolution and modern population growth, forcing us to rethink not just how we consume but how we protect and preserve. Planting the right kind of trees in the right places is also critical.
There are a number of complex factors that have to be considered to determine where, when, and what kind of tree planting is warranted. These programmes need professional and knowledgeable stewardship - such as what WLT provides - in combination with its other programmes.
HOW DOES THE BUY AN ACRE PROGRAMME WORK?
WLT works with its network of trusted conservation partners all around the world. They have all been evaluated and visited to ensure that they have the experience, knowledge and track record to effectively create and protect wildlife reserves.
For every £100 donation to the Buy an Acre programme, an overseas partner is able to purchase one acre of habitat and protect it in perpetuity. £50 will save half an acre and £25 a quarter of an acre.
WHAT MAKES WLT’S BUY AN ACRE PROGRAMME SO SUCCESSFUL?
One of the things we love about WLT’s programme is that the land they purchase is owned and protected by local partners. Engaging local communities in the active management of protected habitat is, we feel, the only true way of ensuring long term benefit for all.
WLT employs a truly holistic approach that we feel shows a deep understanding of what it really takes to permanently protect habitats to create a genuinely greener legacy.
There are many ways to protect the environment and wildlife, all of which we encourage and support. But WLT’s Buy an Acre programme is the trifecta of conservation because it addresses the human, land and wildlife components necessary for genuine long-term viability:
- Purchasing land for permanent protection to decrease deforestation;
- Linking up larger habitats to ensure genuine wildlife protection;
- Ensuring the local community is invested in the long-term preservation of habitats and their wildlife, which is the only real way of creating a truly greener legacy.
HOW DO WE KNOW THE HABITAT WILL STAY SAFE?
After the initial purchase of the land, WLT ensures it is owned by local partners and that it cannot be re-sold or purchased for any other purpose. Having set this foundation, safeguards are put in place to guard against illegal logging, cattle encroachment, poaching and fires.
The Keepers of the Wild (local wildlife rangers) patrol the reserves to deter and detect poachers, monitor wildlife and maintain reserve infrastructures such as access roads, paths or visitor’s centres. Threats come in various forms depending on the country in question but inevitably it is the Keepers of the Wild who are critical in preventing and recording threats as they occur.
WHY WILL THE LAND BE OWNED BY LOCAL PARTNERS?
We agree with WLT that the land should be owned and managed by local people, who know the land, the threats and the wildlife best.
WLT’s local partners are experts in land conservation in their respective countries and work with local communities. Also, providing employment opportunities to the local people helps to create long-term invested interest in the protection of the land.
Ensuring the long-term protection of habitats and their wildlife is only possible by involving the local community, including the land being owned by WLT’s local partners. Creating a vested interest in the land for the local community is key but it is also their knowledge of the threats to both the land and the wildlife that ensure that success.
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF SUCCESS?
World Land Trust has been saving tropical forests and other critically threatened habitats since 1989. A few examples of WLT’s remarkable conservation in action across its programmes and Special Appeals are highlighted below:
- Sierra Gorda Reserve in Mexico - purchasing 2,106 acres in 2018 to protect a rich mosaic of forest habitats that are home to everything from big cats to the Bumblebee Hummingbird. WLT’s partners employ rangers from the local community to patrol the forests, guarding them against threats such as poaching and illegal logging.
- Barba Azul Reserve in Bolivia – purchasing 3,306 acres in Bolivia to extend a seasonally flooded savanna where forested islands provide refuge to a wealth of wildlife including the Endangered Blue-throated Macaw.
- Corozal Sustainable Future Initiative (CSFI) in Belize – purchasing 1,818 acres in The Jungle for Jaguars appeal that enabled WLT’s partner to secure a vital wildlife corridor for Jaguars and other wildlife, extending a protected forest rich in biodiversity in the northern part of Belize.
Orangutan Corridors in Borneo – WLT has worked with partner HUTAN for many years to purchase land supporting orangutan habitat on the banks of the Kinabatangan River, safeguarding wildlife in one of the world’s key biodiversity hotspots. The most recent plots protected will link an existing reserve to the river that also provides safe passage for swimming elephants to migrate north. The expanded reserve also secures habitats for the Kinabatangan’s eight species of Asian hornbill, all of which are threatened by the illegal wildlife trade – as is the Malayan Sun Bear, the world’s smallest bear species.
THE FUTURE OF GIVING BACK
The primary solution for creating a greener legacy and securing our collective future wellbeing is to stop emitting all greenhouse gases. For instance, replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources and limiting deforestation creates the largest benefit to the environment, wildlife and humans.
We believe that buying and permanently protecting habitats and including local stakeholders is our first priority. This is why we have chosen to focus on WLT’s Buy an Acre programme in the first instance and to then develop our giving back programme as we grow to incorporate more diverse initiatives with partners that have the correct skills and experience to ensure long term viability and success.
Our aim is to ensure that every purchase of an Atlas accessory has a transparent, tangible and meaningful impact. Finding ways to give back to innovative and important projects is part of our DNA and our contribution to saving and preserving the environment and wildlife will grow as we grow.
ACCESSORIES THAT FOSTER A GREENER LEGACY
Find a meaningful accessory that will accompany you through life’s adventures. All Atlas accessories are designed so that you never have to take them off and they can be worn while swimming, surfing, climbing and even in the shower.
An elegant and quantifiable reminder of positive action and the greener legacy you have helped to foster.