The World Land Trust (WLT) is celebrating 21 years of direct conservation action in saving and preserving tropical forests and other critically-threatened habitats. In this 2010 International Year of Biodiversity, WLT is bringing attention to the Atlantic Rainforest of South America - a biodiversity hotspot - with an exhibit in the Lifelong Learning section at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The exhibit will provide an opportunity to share not only beauty of the Atlantic Rainforest, but the importance of its preservation.
World Land Trust Patron, Sir David Attenborough, in speaking about the work of the Trust, says, "I am of the opinion that tropical forests must be saved at all cost. And as Patron of the World Land Trust I applaud their decision to bring attention to the plight of the Atlantic Rainforest at Chelsea this year. I also fully support the Trust's drive to save as much of the 'real thing' as is humanly possible. Despite man's sophistication we are unable to recreate anything quite so wonderful."
The Atlantic Rainforest or Mata Atlântica is a unique ecosystem supporting an abundance of life. It stretches from north-east Brazil south along the Brazilian Atlantic coastline just into coastal Uruguay, and inland into north-east Argentina and eastern Paraguay. Once covering more than 1 million km2, centuries of deforestation has seen the Atlantic Forest become the second most threatened biome in the world after Madagascar. Today only 6-7% of the original forest area remains, an area of 100,000 km2, and only an estimated 2% is still primary forest. Despite the loss and habitat fragmentation, this ecoregion is still ranked in the top five of the world's biodiversity hotspots and is one of the highest priorities for conservation action globally.
Brimming with life, the rainforests are an amazing treasure trove of biological diversity: plants, animals and micro-organisms. The Atlantic Rainforest is home to over 20,000 plant species, 40% of which are endemic. These include species new to science which are still being discovered, important medicinal plants and the original species of many of the houseplants widely available today. Endemism is particularly high in trees, with more than half the species found nowhere else.
Rainforests are the source of essential ecological services which are only beginning to be fully understood. The forest both cleanses the air and helps to control rainfall and they are vital to the health of the planet. From multiple products to medicines, rainforests are capable of providing a virtually untapped number of daily resources. However, it is estimated that over 93 per cent of the Atlantic Rainforest has disappeared through deforestation mainly as a result of the spread of intensive agriculture, cattle ranching and urban development.
Sir Ghillean Prance, FRS, PPLS, VMH, Director of Kew 1988-99, Scientific Director of the Eden Project and an expert on the flora of the region says, "The World Land Trust has filled a vitally important niche in the conservation world by funding the purchase and protection of threatened rainforest habitats, and I am heartened by the contribution they are making to preserve some of the last surviving Atlantic Rainforest. The Atlantic Rainforest is a hotspot for biodiversity and one of the most critically endangered. It is very important to draw attention to this region with so many endemic species of plants. I am absolutely delighted that we will be able bring these forests to the attention of visitors to the Chelsea Flower Show and hope that this will further interest in conservation of this precious ecosystem".
The exhibit 'World Land Trust: Saving the Atlantic Rainforest' will explore the work of the Trust and its local partners in South America in the preservation of the Atlantic Rainforest. It will focus on main WLT project areas including the Province of Misiones in northeast Argentina which is of considerable importance for conservation because it contains what is now the largest contiguous tract of southern Atlantic rainforest. It is home to the Guaraní peoples who were the original occupants of a large part of Paraguay, Argentina and southern Brazil. Other WLT Atlantic Rainforest project areas of importance are located in Brazil and Paraguay. The exhibit will also include an area representing a tree nursery, so visitors can learn about the reforestation projects taking place.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PWC) is an established supporter of the World Land Trust and a major sponsor of WLT's exhibit at Chelsea. PWC is supporting the Trust’s work in Ecuador and has funded the purchase and protection of over 2,000 acres of threatened rainforest. PWC has also assisted WLT as consultants on the establishment of a major carbon initiative in Paraguay. Malcolm Preston, PWC Partner, Sustainability and Climate Change says, "We are proud to be part of The World Land Trust’s initiative to raise awareness of the devastating loss of the Atlantic Rainforest in an attempt to save it for our future".
For more information, garden plan, photos, or to arrange interviews, please contact Emma Beckett on T. +44 (0)7984 462 201.
Notes for Editors:
The World Land Trust (WLT) is an international conservation organisation that takes direct action to save rainforest and other wildlife habitats. Since its foundation in 1989 as the World Wide Land Conservation Trust, the World Land Trust has been working to preserve the world's most biologically important and threatened lands, and has helped purchase and protect over 400,000 acres of habitats rich in wildlife, in Asia, Central and South America and the UK. www.worldlandtrust.org
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) provides industry-focused assurance, tax, and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its clients and their stakeholders. More than 155,000 people in 153 countries across our network share their thinking, experience and solutions to develop fresh perspectives and practical advice.
"PricewaterhouseCoopers" refers to the network of member firms of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited, each of which is a separate and independent legal entity. www.pwc.com
Biodiversity is Life
The WLT exhibit 'Saving the Atlantic Rainforest' is part of the world-wide celebrations of 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. The diversity of life on earth is crucial for human well-being and now is the time to act to preserve it. For information on events, initiatives and exhibitions across the UK visit www.biodiversityislife.net.