Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Launch of Wood Positive with The Body Shop

10 May, 2012 - 15:47 -- World Land Trust
Wood Positive project in Brazil

World Land Trust (WLT) enables The Body Shop to further reduce their impact on the environment by protecting threatened habitats

Wood Positive is a new intiative to compensate for The Body Shop’s annual paper and cardboard consumption in product packaging.

Having already minimised their packaging as much as possible, The Body Shop approached WLT to fund the protection and regeneration of habitats in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest and the Andean foothills of southern Ecuador to compensate for the wood consumed in their primary, secondary and transit packaging.

How does Wood Positive work?

Taking 2010 as a sample year, The Body Shop worked out that they use about 6,500 tonnes of paper-based packaging every year.

WLT converted the 6,500 tonnes to an equivalent weight of woody biomass to calculate how many hectares of natural forest would have to be preserved and reforested to compensate for this consumption.

By adding 10 per cent to the weight of the packaging, we ensure that each year more wood is grown and preserved than used – making it Wood Positive.

In the first year of the project, we have reforested and preserved a total of 102 hectares (252 acres). In the years that follow we will repeat the process, using data from the previous 12 months to work out how many more hectares must be regenerated or protected.

Tree planting in rainforest reserve

Reserve ranger in Brazil's Atlantic Rainforest helps a school child plant a tree in Guapi Assu Reserve, supported by WLT © REGUA

How does WLT protect habitats?

WLT works with local partner organisations across the world to help them protect threatened habitats and wildlife by creating protected nature reserves.

Often, once habitats are protected our partners must carry out reforestation or natural regeneration to improve degraded areas within the reserve, which have previously been deforested by farming or building developments.

Small patches of fragmented forest are very vulnerable; for example, the trees are often unable to compete with non-native invading species. So even if this habitat is turned into a protected nature reserve, it will continue to degrade unless it is successfully managed.

Through Wood Positive, The Body Shop will be helping to fund  habitat management carried out by our partners Nature and Culture International, Ecuador and REGUA (Reserva Ecológica de Guapi Assu) in Brazil.

How do you regenerate habitats?

Puma in Belize

Far ranging species, like the puma, need large areas of forest cover to roam in search of food and breeding partners. Pumas are found in a large number of WLT-funded nature reserves throughout Central and South America © Terry McManus

Our partners use a mixture of reforestation and assisted natural regeneration to protect and re-establish habitats. Habitats will naturally regenerate if certain barriers are removed or controlled, such as preventing cattle from grazing and removing invasive species.

When reforestation is needed, a mixture of native species are planted in a similar composition to the plants found growing naturally in the surrounding forests. Tree planting can connect fragmented forests to one another to create a continuous habitat; this is particularly important for far ranging species, such as pumas and jaguars.

For these animals, being able to roam under forest cover is essential as it gives them room to forage and to avoid conflict with people. Linking fragmented areas of forest can also allow separated populations to meet, helping them find breeding partners.

Why do tree planting projects fail?

Without a long-term maintenance plan, tree planting can be futile. Many tree planting projects fail because there is no strict monitoring process in place to secure the long-term success of the reforestation. This is largely because it is labour intensive, time consuming, and costs money.

All our partners employ a thorough maintenance and monitoring plan to ensure that the saplings grow well for at least 10 years. The trees are then deemed to be mature and any mortality incidences will be low, but in reality the trees will continue to be looked after as they are in permanently protected nature reserves.

Through Wood Positive, The Body Shop working with WLT is actively supporting the regeneration and long-term preservation of habitats providing a rich home for threatened wildlife.

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