Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Land inflation continues

9 April, 2010 - 14:56 -- John Burton

Our newsletter went out to supporters just before Easter, and the response has been very encouraging, with donations flowing in (the latest newsletter is also available on our website in pdf (1.66Mb, opens in new window)).

The World Land Trust support continues to grow, with both individual supporters and also corporate support gathering momentum all the time. That is the really good news. The bad news is that land prices are rising dramatically almost everywhere. One of the driving forces for this is the demand for so-called green energy. Bio fuels are taking up more and more land, which in turn increases pressure on traditionally agricultural land, or forests which can be replaced with oil-palm, sugar or other biofuels.

In Paraguay ranching is displacing vast tracts of one of the last undisturbed wildernesses in the world. For short-term gain, the fragile ecosystems of the Gran Chaco are being converted to poor quality pasture, which in many cases will turn to desert in less than a decade. But the economics work -- land is cheap, the capital investment needed will be repaid very quickly -- and if it is a dustbowl in a few years time, who cares?

Buying land is not nearly as easy as it sounds. We have to have the money in hand before our partners can start negotiating. Fortunately, due to the generosity of one of our donors we now have a 'revolving fund' which we can use to make downpayments while we raise funds. But the more funds we have in hand, the more land we can buy. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, and the surest way of saving biodiversity (as our Patron Sir David Attenborough points out on our website) is to acquire large tracts of land.

The obvious conclusion is that the WLT's contribution to biodiversity is very real and very tangible. But is does rely on as much support as possible, from all possible sources. Waiting for governments to do something is not an option.

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