The internationally renowned conservation charity, World Land Trust (WLT), aims to raise £575,000 to rejuvenate a landscape still struggling to shed the legacy of the Vietnam War. Its Scorched Earth to Forest Haven appeal will focus on the hills of southern Vietnam, restoring wildlife-rich forests that were devastated during the war over 50 years ago. The human cost of the Vietnam War was all too vivid, but the environmental impact of spraying this land with some 20 million gallons of Agent Orange herbicide laid bare large swathes of the country’s forests, which have still not yet recovered. Launching on 3 October 2019 the appeal will start with WLT’s annual Big Match Fortnight, where all donations to the appeal between 3-17 October will be doubled by matched funding.
The money raised will support WLT’s local partner Viet Nature, who will begin the process of restoring a flourishing tropical forest, teeming with rare and endangered species “The target areas for restoration are currently dominated by invasive grasses,” says WLT Chief Executive Dr Jonathan Barnard. “Restoring them to healthy, biodiverse forest is no easy task. But with the generous help of our supporters, WLT can fund an ambitious project to rejuvenate the depleted soils, clear invasive grasses, nurture native tree seedlings and care for them until they’re established.”
As forest re-cloaks the hills, it will begin creating one of the largest remaining areas of Annamite montane forest. Wildlife will be able to colonise the spreading jungle. Primates such as the flamboyant Red-shanked Douc (threatened by hunting and habitat loss) will find much-needed new territory, as will the endangered Sunda Pangolin (a victim of the illegal trade in wildlife) and several species of threatened and regionally endemic birds, including the elusive but spectacular Crested Argus.
“This is your chance to support a project that not only restores a lost ecosystem and safeguards biodiversity,” says Dr Barnard, “but also recreates a healthy environment that local people depend on for fresh water, clean air and livelihoods. By planting the seeds that can transform Vietnam’s scorched earth to a forest haven, you will also play a crucial role in tackling climate change, helping to establish forests that will stabilise soils and lock away carbon.”
World Land Trust has the continued support of its Patrons, Steve Backshall, Chris Packham, David Gower and Sir David Attenborough who said “The money that is given to the World Land Trust, in my estimation, has more effect on the wild world than almost anything I can think of.”