Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Celebs and conservation

11 March, 2011 - 10:04 -- John Burton
WLT Patrons

WLT Patrons David Attenborough and David Gower are both long standing supporters of the Trust and have a genuine interest in wildlife conservation.

A recent comment on one of my blogs by a long term supporter of the World land Trust (Dominic Belfield) has provoked me into adding to comments I have made in the past about 'celebs' and charities.

The WLT does in fact have several people who would be described as celebrities involved with promoting the Trust's work. David Attenborough, David Gower, and Bill Oddie to name just a few. But one thing all three have in common is first and foremost they are famous for having actually done something (i.e. they are not famous simply for being famous), and second all three have a genuine and long-standing interest in wildlife.

The one thing I personally do not want associated with the WLT is the sort of so-called celebrity who puts their name to any old charity, and are really doing it to keep up their own profile in the public eye.  Dominic Belfield had commented on Lily Cole -- a young actress and model, who had been to India visiting a World Land Trust project. Just the sort of person I would have not thought of as a suitable associate for the WLT (pure prejudice on my part), but Lily turned out to be very committed, and has a very sincere interest in what we are doing -- the article in New Scientist clearly shows that, and she has followed up her visit with some really useful contacts.  Her involvement is not simply because she is a 'celeb' in the public eye and, like the others I have mentioned, she takes us seriously and has something to offer.

If I wanted, I could 'name drop' a long list of supporters, but that's not our style. They get mentioned when it's relevant to conservation.


Submitted by Dominic Belfield on

Just as a parting comment on this: There is nothing wrong and a lot right with actors and models being involved with NGO’s like WLT, or other environmental campaigners.

A well-informed individual, like Lily Cole, can garner interest and attention for important wildlife issues from sectors in society normally difficult to reach (i.e. younger and fashion conscious women).

My comment about Naomi Campbell was designed to show up the ‘dangers’. Here was a very high profile model one moment declaring her abhorence for the fur trade (“I’d rather go nude than wear fur”) and featuring in a provocative picture with other supermodels in an arresting advert lambasting people who wear fur coats etc; while a year or two later, this same model was to be seen in another photo-shoot positively PROMOTING expensive furs as a fashion accessory, all thoughts of previous high-minded stands against apparently ‘out the window’.

Result? Credibility for cruelty opposing fashionistas shot right down, big laughs in the general media at their expense and the original campaigning charity left looking daft.

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