Battle to save the Amazon rainforest gets boost

by Stephen Hurrell. Published Tue 28 Jul 2009 13:46, Last updated: 2009-07-28
The Amazon rainforest is a huge source of carbon.
The Amazon rainforest is a huge source of carbon.

The Ashaninka tribe in the Amazon rainforest has received support from an unlikely source – the UK division of global printing company Brother.

Brother has pledged to help the tribe protect 1,000 acres of Peruvian rainforest as part of a partnership with leading rainforest sustainability charity, Cool Earth.

The UK-based charity buys areas of the rainforest and puts them into local trusts. It employs local people to protect the land and earn a living out of the forest without destroying it.

Brother is the first printing technology firm to commit to the charity and the money will safeguard around 44,000 mature trees, 190,000 saplings, six endangered species of mammal, 322 types of plant and 11,000 species of insect and worm.

The scheme will keep 100,000 tonnes of carbon stored in the trees to help the battle against global warming. Rainforest destruction has a massive impact on climate change and accounts for a staggering six billion tonnes of CO2 emissions every year. So far the charity has secured over 50,000 acres of rainforest and 15 million tonnes of carbon.

Local communities will also receive resources such as classrooms and solar-powered internet as part of the partnership.

The Brother UK scheme is likely to be more successful than rivals Ricoh, which is currently considering developing a new environmental scheme in Africa to replace its disastrous current programme.

A recent Ricoh trip to tree-planting projects in the east African nation Tanzania, funded by the company through a previous carbon offsetting initiative, revealed that many of the trees had been stolen or died.

The company had agreed to supply charity Seeds for Africa with cash to plant a tree every time a customer printed 100,000 pages using a Ricoh printer.

However, Ricoh admitted that the scheme had appeared to encourage some customers to print more, while many of the planted trees had subsequently died.

The firm said it was now considering remodelling the scheme so that donations are made based on how many printer cartridges customers recycle, rather than how many pages are printed out.

Cool Earth Director Matthew Owen said: “Only 10 percent of our resources go towards Cool Earth administration. We try to help the locals to help themselves by paying them guaranteed salaries to protect the rainforest. However, we are careful not to allow them to be dependant on us.

“Cool Earth tries to increase the value of any harvesting of fruit and nuts, which the villagers have done for many years, and ensure they are paid a fair price for them.”

“The area we have saved over the last two years would have been destroyed within 18 months. We protect strategic areas, which protect many acres of rainforest from loggers and cattle ranchers.”

Owen was pleased to work with a large company such as Brother, and he hopes that larger companies working with Cool Earth can convince others that small changes can make a big difference to the fight to save the rainforests.

The Managing Director of Brother Europe, Yuji Ishiguro, commented: "Our partnership with Cool Earth demonstrates our wider commitment to the environment, as we make global efforts to reduce our environmental impact and CO2 emissions.

“Our aim is to build a long-term relationship with the charity and we are looking at ways we can develop Brother Europe's Cool Earth initiative to provide further protection for the Amazon."

Phil Jones, Sales and Marketing Director, Brother UK, said: “We have a pro-active environmental ethos at Brother, and our partnership with Cool Earth demonstrates our wider commitment to the environment, as we help to reduce climate change, as well as sustaining biodiversity.

“The four square kilometres of rainforest that we are protecting is a vast area that equates to the size of approximately 600 football pitches. Our aim is to form a long-term relationship with the charity, and we are working with them to develop some exciting customer incentive and employee reward schemes.”

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