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Major Boost for Tropical Rainforests

…Royal & Corporate support

BirdLife’s efforts to save threatened rainforests around the globe have received a major boost following the support of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and Singapore Airlines at events held in Singapore today.

Royal support

Speaking to delegates from governments, the private sector and conservation organisations at an evening event hosted by the Nature Society (Singapore) (local BirdLife Partner), HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco stressed that: “… the work of BirdLife allows whole areas to be protected and preserved – unique areas of the globe whose importance is key both for our survival and for our knowledge of the world”.

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco used the event to underline the importance of tropical forests, and announced his support to BirdLife's Forests of Hope programme. “The conservation and restoration ‘Forests of Hope’ projects co-ordinated by BirdLife and its Partners in tropical forests around the world … are now better known, and above all, let us hope, on the way to being saved. I am particularly pleased that my Foundation - whose commitment to biodiversity and protection of the planet - is a faithful partner of BirdLife International, and has signed a framework partnership allowing our efforts to be united and our approaches to be shared on several projects throughout the world.”Forests of Hope – a fresh approach to rainforest conservation

The BirdLife Global Partnership has been deeply engaged in forest conservation across the tropics for years, and is achieving significant successes on the ground. BirdLife’s ‘Forests of Hope’ programme is building on this wealth of experience, and expanding this work across the globe.

It uses an innovative approach towards large-scale forest restoration and conservation which addresses biodiversity conservation, eco-services preservation, social development and climate change mitigation and adaptation. 
Delegates at the event heard how Burung Indonesia (BirdLife Partner) and the RSPB (BirdLife Partner in the UK) and BirdLife International are conserving and restoring around 20% of Sumatra’s remaining lowland forest through the Harapan Rainforest Initiative.Harapan success

Harapan Rainforest – the Indonesian word for ‘hope’ - is located on the island of Sumatra, the largest island in Indonesia. The dry lowland forest is home to over 290 species of birds, along with other charismatic and Globally Threatened animals like Asian wild dog, Malayan Tapir, Asian Elephant and a significant proportion of the world’s Sumatran Tiger. The Harapan concession has been recently licensed to the BirdLife consortium by the Indonesian Government under a completely new regulation that allows forests to be set-aside and managed for their long-term conservation and restoration. Harapan is the world’s first forest restoration concession of this type, and the license has been granted for nearly 100 years. Real hope.

The BirdLife consortium have employed over 200 staff - mainly from local communities - to ensure that the 100,000 hectares of forest are safe from fires and illegal logging.

“We are working hard to ensure the indigenous communities who still live sustainably in the forest feel the benefits of the project, with many social development and employment opportunities being made available”, said Dr Marco Lambertini - Chief Executive of BirdLife International.

“Just three years into the project the results are already impressive, with a sharp decline in forest fires, illegal logging and poaching”, added Dr Lambertini.Singapore Airlines contributes to 'Harapan Fund'

Recognising the effectiveness of BirdLife’s approach to tropical forest conservation and restoration, earlier today Singapore Airlines announced a US$3 million contribution to establish a 'Harapan Fund' managed by BirdLife.

"Forests are among the world’s chief carbon stores, and the arrestment of deforestation is a key step towards combating climate change,” said Mr Bey Soo Khiang - Singapore Airline’s Senior Executive Vice-President Marketing and Corporate Services. “The money contributed will be used to finance ongoing core operations such as the employment of forest patrols to prevent illegal logging and forest fires as well as plant and species protection programmes. Singapore Airlines is pleased and excited to be a part of this initiative which has tangible environmental benefits not just for Indonesia, but the international community as well," he added.

"We are delighted that Singapore Airlines has decided to help us conserve tropical forests like Harapan”, said Dr Lambertini. “This will help to preserve their invaluable biodiversity and crucial eco-services, and combat greenhouse emissions from deforestation and forest fires. Singapore Airlines has shown real long-sighted vision and corporate environmental responsibility at a time when tropical forests need more help than ever".Conserving forests across the tropics

Finally, delegates from the business world heard how BirdLife intends to grow a new global ‘Forest and Climate Fund’ to conserve a portfolio of sites identified from across the tropics. These sites include Cambodia’s Western Siem Pang Important Bird Area (IBA) - one of the last areas of the dry and semi-evergreen forests of mainland South-East Asia.

“This site is of global conservation importance and supports populations of five Critically Endangered bird species making it globally unique”, said His Excellency Chea Sam Ang - deputy chief of Cambodia’s Forestry Administration - at the evening event.

In Cambodia, the Forestry Administration and BirdLife International have a long-established collaborative programme to conserve IBAs in The Kingdom. “The Forestry Administration looks forward to further strengthening our collaboration with BirdLife and to working together to secure the conservation of Western Siem Pang”, announced His Excellency Chea Sam Ang.Wider corporate support needed

To conserve sites like Harapan and Western Siem Pang, BirdLife needs others to join Singapore Airlines and invest in tropical forest conservation action around the globe.

“The combination of biodiversity conservation, haze prevention and tangible contribution to combat global warming, creates a strong ethical and business case for companies to invest in tropical forest conservation”, said Dr Geh Min from the Nature Society (Singapore).

A global market of carbon credits from natural forests was discussed by the world’s governments in 2008 under the UN Convention on Climate Change, but is likely to take a decade to come into action.

“We can’t wait this long”, said Dr Geh. “Millions of hectares of tropical forests across the tropics are being lost - now is the time to invest in their restoration. This is a wonderful chance for Singapore to do her part to save the Earth, benefit ourselves and our neighbours - a shared dream come true”.

4th July 2014