A Rainforest SOS To The World

300x250Yesterday The Prince’s Rainforest Project launched a global campaign to raise awareness for deforestation. The public campaign was originally launched back in May, garnering over 4 million views of their campaign frog videos and a long line of celebrity and corporate endorsements.

The Prince’s Rainforest Project dates back to 2007 as a reaction to reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on tropical deforestation. The group embarked on long research effort, engaging in top officials in government, business and NGO’s to both understand the economic drivers of deforestation and come up with workable solutions to help prevent it.

In March of this year, the Prince’s Rainforest Project published a report titled “An Emergency Package For Tropical Rainforests” which outlined a entirely new approach to combating deforestation. The report lays out an innovative financial incentive plan for rainforest nations that involves the international community making “payments to these countries based on the costs of pursuing an alternative, low-deforestation economic development path.”

“Earth’s Lifebelt”

We’ve known about the problems of rainforest deforestation for years. Clear cutting, harvesting precious woods, habitat loss, species extinction – this isn’t new ground. Whether or not the rainforests contain the planet’s most important source of biodiversity, or that losing it would be catastrophic to the planet is no longer a point of disagreement.

How to combat it’s destruction in the face of major economic and political obstacles – not the least of which is a developing country’s desire for development and growth – is the considerable challenge the Prince’s Rainforest Project hopes to tackle. They are making a strong argument and appeal to all stakeholders that the rainforests are “worth more alive than dead,” and may be breaking some new ground by backing it up with a workable framework.

“Rainforests are utterly essential in our fight against climate change. They absorb nearly a fifth of all our carbon emissions and yet they are being destroyed at the rate of a football pitch every four seconds. To solve the problem, we have to find ways to ensure the trees become more valuable alive than dead so there is no incentive to cut them down.” – HRH The Prince of Wales

The recent announcement is part of a strong push culminating in a global rainforest event in November to be attended by major government and private sector stakeholders, and ultimately leading into Copenhagen in December. The message is being sent via a multi-media blast of web, print and television – and supporters can even sign up at their website and create their own frog video.

Not unlike many recent celebrity fueled cause-marketing campaigns, this one doesn’t lack of major star power spanning the public and private divide. From long time rainforest activists like Sting, to leading NGO and conservation groups as Conservation international, to corporate partners like Boeing, Dell and McDonalds, the support spans wide across the public private divide.

The message is clear, and the support is strong. Now the challenge is to build upon and rally past the incredible high profile support, grow it by shoring up the population at large, and ultimately sustain this most recent “SOS” spotlight long enough to effect political will in Copenhagen.

Brian Thurston is a sustainability consultant working on research, strategy and policy development. Brian is interested in building awareness and unique relationships within and between corporate, government, and NGO partners. He holds a BA in Literature from University of Southern California, and a MS in Environmental Policy from The Johns Hopkins University.

One response

  1. Indeed. Great initiative. More businesses and governments need to join in the effort to proactively reforest while we can. For example in partnership with the UNEP Billion Tree Campaign, CR8Change.org a green web hosting company plants one new tree every month for every web hosting account! It is a significant commitment financially, however one that many businesses and governments can and should consider if we are going to have sustainable rain forests.

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