Prince launching 'Size of Wales' project in Llanarthne

A project to sustain an area of African tropical forest the size of Wales has been launched by Prince Charles on a visit to Carmarthenshire.

The "Size of Wales" scheme encourages people to do conservation work and make donations towards their running.

The prince, who is on a tour of Britain to promote his ideas for a greener lifestyle, visited the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Llanarthne.

He said he wanted to help people create a world that "we all want to live in".

The Welsh scheme is being funded by The Waterloo Foundation, an independent foundation based in Cardiff.

It donates grants to organisations in the UK and worldwide, and runs a forests programme targeted at avoiding deforestation in tropical areas.

"An area the size of Wales is frequently used to measure the rate of forest destruction around the world," said Size of Wales project manager, Hannah Scrase.

"This project turns the negative use of our nation's size on its head, and encourages people to help protect an area of rainforest equivalent to the size of Wales.

"This is the first country in the world to mobilise such a unique national response to the problem of forest destruction and climate change. By protecting two million hectares of rainforest, we hope to make lasting links with forest projects in Africa."

Size of Wales projects are already being delivered by established UK charities. In most cases, they work in partnership with African non-profit organisations, providing technical support, monitoring, evaluation and reporting.

Three community organisations - in Pontypridd, Lampeter in Ceredigion, and Llandrindod Wells in Powys - are examples of groups working in Kenya and Uganda to help combat climate change.

Lampeter/Bore Community Carbon Link (CCL) is an initiative that connects Lampeter with Bore in eastern Kenya.

Image caption Students from Lampeter working in Bore, Kenya

The community of Bore is located on the equator and is seen as an ideal place to plant trees as a "carbon sink".

The group has its own dedicated plot of protected tropical forest in Africa, currently expanding from an initial 10 acres (4 hectares) to 110 acres (272 hectares).

More than 7,000 cashew trees have been planted, providing food and livelihoods for the local community.

Llandrindod Wells is supporting Africa Greater Life Mission (AGLM) in Wakiso, Uganda.

Building on a biodiversity project developed in partnership with Makerere University, the group from Powys is in the early stages of implementing a community forest project.

Royal train

Meanwhile, PONT (Partnerships Overseas Networking Trust), a charity linking Pontypridd with Mbale in Uganda, is planting nearly one million trees.

Tom Jones, vice-president of Wales Council for Voluntary Action, which is managing Size of Wales said: "Supporters of the Size of Wales will be linked directly to forest projects and communities in Africa.

"We aim to find organisations and individuals within the Welsh community who can support these projects."

The Prince of Wales arrived at Carmarthen station in the biofuel-powered Royal train and then travelled to the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

He is taking his message to communities from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Manchester and London, promoting his sustainable living initiative START.

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