I have just returned from a week in the Atlantic rainforests of South America. I was there with some very specific objectives: I was taking Michela Delle Donne, who represented Eurojersey Spa, an Italian producer of a warp-knit fabrics, along with a Brazilian wildlife film-maker, Luciano Breves - who is also an expert on all things related to webcams. (His Brazilian wildlife webcam can be seen here.)
The purpose of the visit was to film both the Misiones forests that Eurojersey are helping to purchase, and also to see the success story that is the project WLT helps fund in the Rio area of Brazil: REGUA. In both areas we are working with our project partners to save important strongholds of the previously extensive Atlantic Forest.
The WLT believes that engaging our major corporate supporters directly with the projects they fund is an essential part of our work. Once they have seen for themselves what our work with our project partners on the ground involves, they are better equipped to pass on that message.
Eurojersey Spa strives to be as environmentally responsible as possible in their fabrics production cycle thanks to their SensitivEcoSystem® programme. Although synthetic, their patented fabrics called Sensitive® are manufactured to the highest possible environmental standards and with the lowest possible impact. (I know, because before we accepted support from them the owner of the company insisted I went and saw their factory located near Milan for myself.)
We saw the forests of Misiones, and saw the ongoing destruction. As always there is a limit to what governments can do, and the WLT project in Misiones province of Argentina is going to be a prime example of where the NGO sector can step in.
By funding the purchase of a critical corridor, connecting together a huge National Park in Argentina with a more modest park in Brazil, and working with an enthusiastic and supportive local land owner, the leverage effect of the million or so dollars the WLT project will have is enormous.
The project in Misiones was started by a $500,000 donation from a single private donor. This has now resulted in sponsorship from Stella Artois for their Christmas campaign in 2009, followed by sponsorship over a 5-year period from Eurojersey starting from January 2010. This in turn will hopefully leverage funding from the manufacturers of garments using Eurojersey's fabrics.
Over 90% of the Atlantic rainforests have disappeared, we must do everything we can to save them. Because of all the support from business, it really does mean that every donation from the public goes a long way. And with the videos created from the visit last week, we intend to generate enthusiasm for saving these critical forests.