Science & Environment

Charity reaches rainforest goal

Rainforest - logging
Image caption Organiser Hannah Scrase says she would now like to see an area the size of Europe protected

A charity founded to save tropical rainforest the size of Wales has achieved its goal.

It has raised £2m in three years to protect over two million hectares of forest, mainly in Africa.

"Size of Wales" was founded by Welsh environmentalists annoyed that their country was often used in the media as a comparator to gauge the scale of rainforest destruction.

Copycat campaigns are now being discussed in Denmark and Ireland.

The project's organisers say ultimately they'd like to see the people of Europe raise funds to protect an area of rainforest the size of Europe.

Many Welsh people appreciated the positive spin placed on typical media phrases like: "A rainforest the size of Wales has been destroyed" or "a rainforest twice the size of Wales has gone". Scotland and England never seemed to merit such attention.

The public chipped in more than £1m and that has been match-funded by a Cardiff-base charitable trust, the Waterloo Foundation.

"Size of Wales" organiser Hannah Scrase, based in Llanidloes, has released the news on St David's Day. "I'm absolutely delighted," she told BBC News. "It's been quite a hard three years but we have got there.

"What we'd really like to see is an area the size of Europe that's being protected by people in Europe as people in Europe have done quite a lot to contribute to deforestation over the century."

The funding will focus on 20 projects securing community land rights; protected areas; and community forest conservation. There will also be limited re-afforestation.

"Size of Wales" will continue operating to keep the land secure and also educate people in Wales about their impact on tropical forests.

"Tropical forest deforestation amounts to as much carbon emissions as the world's transport - people don't realize that," said Ms Scrase. "We have to reduce if we want to keep it to keep climate change to something reasonable."

So far there has been no expression of interest from England or Scotland in following the international lead set in a tiny town in rural mid-Wales by a charity that does not have a phone line and makes all its calls on Skype.

Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin

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