Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Steve Backshall and Helen Glover race for Borneo

28 February, 2017 - 11:44 -- World Land Trust
Steve and Helen Backshall

This Easter, World Land Trust (WLT) Patron and wildlife presenter Steve Backshall and his wife, Olympic champion rower Helen Glover, will be kayaking 125 miles non-stop from Devizes in Wiltshire to the Houses of Parliament at Westminster in the classic DW race.

They are racing to raise funds to protect a section of rainforest in Malaysian Borneo, saving it from being cut down to make way for oil palm plantations and safeguarding a wealth of threatened wildlife found there, such as Proboscis Monkey, Bornean Pygmy Elephant, the Bornean Orang-utan and Sunda Pangolin (the latter both classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List).

The Devizes to Westminster Race

The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race (called the ‘Canoeist’s Everest’) involves paddling a staggering 125 miles and carrying the boat around 77 locks. Steve has competed in the race twice before, including in 2015 when he raised £50,000 for WLT to extend Las Tangaras reserve in Colombia. The race took Steve 23 hours and 17 minutes to complete.

Saving Kinabatangan

WLT have been working with overseas partner HUTAN since 2008 to secure patches of Orang-utan habitat in an area heavily fragmented by palm oil plantations. In 2014, WLT raised one million pounds to secure the ‘Keruak Corridor’ in the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain of Sabah, a critically important strip of forest along the north bank of the Kinabatangan River.

Now the opportunity to protect more parcels of land in the area has arisen, and it is important to secure this land for conservation to prevent further deforestation of this habitat.

As Steve has visited the area and witnessed its rich biodiversity, this cause is close to his heart. He says “We're putting ourselves through hell training for it but it's all for a very good cause. Our friends at World Land Trust are helping us buy a section of Bornean rainforest, saving it for the Proboscis Monkeys, the Orang-utans, the Pygmy Elephants and all the other astounding animals that live there. From the cicadas that deafen you at dusk, to the fireflies that light up the riverside like a thousand Christmas trees, this place is paradise. Let’s work together to protect it, forever.”

Steve and Helen have released a video explaining why they have decided to do the race. In the video, Helen says “You can help us fundraise over the next six weeks of our training, and follow us all the way through to our race on Easter weekend. Together we can save this very special and important chunk of rainforest forever.”

More information

Donations to sponsor Steve and Helen can be made here. For more information and interview enquiries, please contact Nina Seale at nina.seale@worldlandtrust.org or telephone 01986 874422.

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