Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Steve and Helen Backshall Race for Borneo

Steve Backshall

Target: £100,000

Raised: +£300,000


This appeal is now closed.

Update: this appeal is now closed. 

World Land Trust would like to thank all the generous supporters of the Saving Kinabatangan Appeal. With your help, we have raised more than £300,000 to buy and protect five vital properties of Bornean Rainforest from being converted to Oil Palm plantations. 

Easter weekend 2017, World Land Trust Patron and wildlife presenter Steve Backshall and his wife, Olympic champion rower Helen, kayaked 125 miles non-stop from Devizes in Wiltshire to the Houses of Parliament at Westminster in the classic DW race.

They raced to raise funds to protect a section of rainforest in Malaysian Borneo, and have exceeded their initial target of £100,000 towards the £250,000 'Saving Kinabatangan' appeal, but we still have a way to go before this forest is saved from being cut down to make way for oil palm plantations and safeguarding the wealth of  threatened wildlife found there.

Species found in the Bornean rainforest include:

  • Bornean Orang-utan, classified as Critically Endangered by IUCN. An estimated 1,000 individuals are resident within the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain.
  • Nine other species of primate are found in the Kinabatangan area: Proboscis Monkey; Western Tarsir ; Long-tailed Macaque; Pig-tailed Macaque; Hose's Langur; Silvered Langur; Maroon Langur; Bornean Gibbon and Slow Loris.
  • Bornean Pygmy Elephant, classified as Endangered by IUCN. An estimated population of 300 individuals is found within the Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain.
  • Sunda Pangolin, classified Critically Endangered by the IUCN, the most heavily trafficked animal in the world.

Any money you give will be doing something practical to save the spectacular wildlife of one of the world’s most diverse and threatened places. Find out more here »

"We're putting ourselves through hell training for it but it's all for a very good cause. Our friends at World Land Trust are aiming to protect a section of Bornean rainforest, saving it for the Proboscis Monkeys, the Orang-utans, the Pygmy Elephants and all the other astounding animals that live there. From the cicadas that deafen you at dusk, to the fireflies that light up the riverside like a thousand Christmas trees, this place is paradise, let’s work together to protect it, forever." - Steve Backshall

The challenge

Known as the DW, the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race involves paddling a staggering 125 miles and carrying your boat around 77 locks. Steve has now completed the race three times, including in 2015, when he raised £50,000 to extend Las Tangaras reserve in Colombia.  

The race took place from 14-17 April 2017.


Submitted by Leann Campbell on

Was there last year , important to save the forest. So beautiful.

Submitted by Duncan Ross on

I bank with HSBC but was informed the other day that they have something to do with the Palm Oil companies. Do you know if this is true and to what extent they are involved?

Submitted by Elizabeth Watson on

Hi there my children would like to sponsor/donate as part of their birth
day presents in March. Is there a certificate I can download to give to them? Thank you

Submitted by Martin knowles on

Have been backpacking 3 times in last 3 years in Borneo. Lucky to see pygmy elephants in the wild but palm plantations are destroying the rainforest!! Save this beautiful place

Submitted by Ben Hammond on

Hi Elizabeth,

Our Donations team can create a certificate for your children. You can contact them at, or by calling 01986 874 422. 

Submitted by Andy on

We've made a donation. Go Steve & Helen!
We live in WIltshire. If we wanted to come and cheer you and the other paddlers on, where would be a good place to do it. At the start?

Submitted by Flowerpower on

Everyone should be supporting this extremely important project and share this planet with its amazing wildlife! Start by donating and continue by boycotting palm oil products! Well done Steve and Helen for promoting this topic.

Submitted by Dominic Belfield on

With regards to HSBC - they definitely have been involved in financing palm oil companies with distinctly er, er, [emphemism alert] "questionable" environmental policies... Check Greenpeace's website for a recent campaign to get them to see sense, I myself sent a postcard to the CEO to this very effect. He has yet to reply to me, funny that.

Also very useful is EIA's website for more general palm oil issues in Indonesia and Papua.

Upshot is : we consumers in the West have a HUGE and urgent need to call our banks and food manufacturers to account on the whole Palm oil issue, and not let them get away with mealy-mouthed platitudes and facile greenwash.

Submitted by lynn thompson on

it's true. greenpeace have been campaigning to get hsbc to stop funding the companies responsible for habitat destruction
and have lately been successful i believe.

Submitted by Cally Smith on

Theres masses i could write but will keep this just a simple THANKYOU both from the bottom of my heart. I visited Sabangau in 2013 with OuTrop and spent 7weeks in the rainforest. I have tried to raise awareness of palm oil since 2003 but it sometimes seems pretty hopeless so i pray you succeed and save some of the worlds most magical, precious and vital rainforest. We cannot afford to lose it.x

Submitted by Nick Bruzon on

Heard the interview on the Christian O'Connell show yesterday. What a wonderful cause. Have just donated . Good luck !!

Submitted by ELAINE PERRINS on

Supported this as my son has been backpacking in Borneo and has told us of the devastation that he has seen. Campbell loved the place so donated on his behalf

Submitted by Valerie Sissons on

I am donating on behalf of my Son Christopher who visited the area Steve and Helen are trying to buy. Good luck you two, you are doing a wonderful thing!!

Submitted by Lysbeth Forbes-... on

I was in Kinabatangan 10 years ago. Holiday of a lifetime. Seeing orangutans in their own habitat was incredible also proboscis monkeys and long tailed macaques. A pleasure to help you save this land.

Submitted by Pete Holland on

We drove across the north of Borneo last year - hundreds of miles of nothing but palm oil plantations - we in the west can't blame the locals - they sell their smallholdings to the big oil companies for the sake of guaranteeing money for a good education for their children.Please check the products you bay and reject all those that contain palm oil (those that contain 'sustainable palm' oil are probably better. Believe me, the destruction is incredible!

Submitted by Victoria and Stefano on

We visited last year and it is an incredibly special area, it must be saved! We saw the palm oil deforestation, it was immense. Have donated. Well done Steve and Helen for promoting and doing this for the wildlife and the planet.

Submitted by Neil on

Back off those of you that are here on earth to profit - remember - we all leave empty handed! Good work World Land Trust, Steve and Helen.

Submitted by Suzanne & Graha... on

Looking super strong out there this morning, guys. Glad we could make it to cheer you along. Excellent work, great cause and tremendous racing - job done!

Submitted by K Macnaughton on

Just back from a trip on the Kinabatangan River. Was so saddened to see that the palm plantations were up to the river in parts and that's only the parts I saw from a tourist boat.
This is a worldwide issue. Companies and products around the world are heavily involved in the destruction of these habitats. People need to be educated. This must stop before it is too late. Keep spreading the word.

Submitted by Sarah & Nick Ainley on

Visited Borneo 9 years ago for our honeymoon, stayed in various places including on the banks of the Kinabatagan River, we were lucky to see orangutans in the wild but was devestating to see the palm oil plantations as we travelled around.

Submitted by Anne Jackson on

I had the pleasure of presenting Steve and Helen with their medals when they completed the race on Sunday. My goddaughter is a zoo keeper and has spent time in Borneo with the orangutans so this is a great cause to support and I have just donated

Submitted by Julie on

Just text you a donation after seeing you on the One Show-well done to all of you !!! poor hands !

Submitted by Ben Hammond on

Hi Ian, 

The PayPal button should be back on the page now under the regular donate button, apologies for the inconvenience.

Submitted by Berni Gamble on

Fantastic achievement! Such an important cause too, congratulations to you both. Hopefully your target will be reached soon and the rainforest will be protected and all its wonderful wildlife will survive for many generations to come.

Submitted by Val & Rob Hiron on

Visited Borneo, spending some time exploring the Kinabatangan area, and have since adopted two orangutans at Sepilok. Hope you reach your goal to preserve the forest.

Submitted by Alison Gaunt on

Visited Kinabatangan a few years ago, privileged to see orangutans, Pygmy elephant and many other amazing animals and birds. Hope this appeal is successful in saving this very special area - well done to Steve and Helen Backshall for their amazing efforts in the canoe challenge.

Submitted by Amanda Bright on

I was there just last month and really want to go back. I saw the Pygmy Elephants which was a great thrill as well as a variety of monkeys and beautiful birds. Such a beautiful area it has to be protected. Well done, I truly hope you make your target. Much love x x x

Submitted by Jeanette Crawford on

Hello. I was wondering if you had considered offering gift packages where people could buy an acre (as an example) for a gift for people. They could have a map of where it is. Managed by you. But maybe get a list of species spotted in that acre periodically. Even go and visit their acreage one day. I think it would be an amazing present for people.

Submitted by Ben Hammond on

Hi Jeanette,

We do currently offer gift packages for Buy an Acre, as well as for the majority of our other appeals. However, they don't include a comprehensive map and species list, but I will make sure your suggestions are passed along for future packs.

Kind regards,

Ben Hammond, 

Digital Content Manager

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