Saving threatened habitats worldwide

African violets, Paraguayan wetlands and kissing to save elephants

25 February, 2009 - 08:57 -- John Burton

Meeting our supporters

Today is a typical day in London for me -- meetings pretty well back to back. I normally start my day soon after 6 a.m. by feeding the llamas, sheep, hens and pigs, taking the train to London at 07.15, where I can start writing.

African Violet

The African Violet, or Saint Paulia, is a common houseplant. WLT's new project in Tanzania will help conserve its wild ancestor. (Photo by Overduebook.)

My first meeting today will be with Sally Birch, a botanical artist who has offered to donate some of her artwork to the WLT for fundraising purposes. I would like to enthuse her about our new project in Tanzania, which is helping conserve the habitat of the wild ancestors of the African Violet (together with a mass of other endemic and interesting wildlife).

I will then be meeting with Mark Stanley Price, an respected international conservationist, who has been involved with conservation in Africa for several decades, in addition to working on the Arabian Oryx reintroduction, and more recently Director of Jersey Zoo. He and I first met around the time when I was starting up the Mountain Gorilla project back in the 1970s.

At 2 p.m. I am meeting with the Head of Marketing for Travel Republic. This is a company that has been extremely generous in supporting the World Land Trust projects, and their donations have made possible the purchase of large areas of wetlands in Paraguay.

After Travel Republic I am off to meet Sophie Stafford, the Editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine. Until recently I sat on the Statutory Editorial Board of the Magazine, but finally had to resign, as WLT was taking up too much of my time. It was sad to make the break, as I had been Assistant Editor of Animals Magazine, which was later taken over by the BBC, back in 1971/72. And I have written something or other for the magazine almost every year ever since, even if it's only been a letter. In fact it was BBC Wildlife Magazine that in 1989 raised one of the first donations for Programme for Belize, the WLT's very first project.

After meeting with Sophie Stafford, I'm off to meet with the staff of the Elephant Family -- with whom we have been working on fundraising for our partners' Elephant Corridor projects in India. Elephant Family have just launched the brilliant 'Kissing for Conservation' with a bunch of celebs donating an auctioned kiss for elephant conservation. And with any luck, I will catch the 19.30 train home and be back around 22.00.

Why the WLT has not signed up to the Fund Raising Standards Board

On the train I read this week's Third Sector Magazine. And I read the arguments in favour of the Fund Raising Standards Board, and its hallmark. Some supporters of the WLT may well be wondering why we have not signed up to this initiative. The answer is relatively simple. The standards and the codes of practice are so voluminous that I really don't see how I could sign up to it with any degree of confidence of actually knowing what I was committing the WLT to. In my view policies should always be as brief and simple as possible and memorable. The FRSB code of practice certainly is not -- it would probably need a dedicated member of staff to keep on top of it!

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