Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Steve and Helen Backshall triple fundraising target to protect Borneo Rainforest

4 July, 2017 - 15:51 -- World Land Trust
Steve and Helen Backshall

July 2017 – In February this year, celebrity newlyweds Steve Backshall and Helen Glover announced their aim to raise £100,000 to help wildlife conservation charity World Land Trust (WLT) save a portion of rainforest in Malaysian Borneo from deforestation. With their help, the charity has announced that the incredibly successful campaign has raised more than £300,000, and extra properties can now be saved.

Wildlife television presenter Steve is a Patron of WLT, and had once before kayaked the 125 miles between Devizes and Westminster to protect land from deforestation. After completing the arduous 24-hour race, he said “never again”, but this year he undertook the challenge once more with his wife, Olympic rowing champion Helen, when they heard about the Saving Kinabatangan Appeal.

Even while enduring hard-core training for the physically demanding kayak race, known as ‘Canoeist’s Everest’, Steve and Helen were busy raising awareness of the appeal, appearing on The One Show and delivering countless radio, television and printed media interviews. The response in donations after their first appearance on The One Show broke an overnight fundraising record for WLT.

Reaching the target

The campaign reached the £100,000 target soon after the couple completed the race, but the appeal showed no sign of losing momentum. It became apparent that another property could be purchased if a secondary target of £250,000 was reached.

Not only was this target reached, but as the campaign closed in on the target, a corporate supporter contacted WLT and offered to make a £50,000 donation if the land purchase could be extended.

Extra properties

With the final total of the appeal reaching more than £300,000 and five properties marked for securement and protection from clearance for Oil Palm plantations, this appeal has been a remarkable success.

Steve commented “This is such an incredible achievement, and it is has really shown us how positively people can respond to a call to arms for wildlife. For me one of the great dangers the modern conservation movement faces is apathy.

The vast issues of climate change and overpopulation may seem too big, too intimidating for us to handle, so there is a tendency to do nothing at all. But give people the tools to actually make a difference, and they will surprise you.”

Helen added “We’ve seen such passion and dedication from people wanting to support this appeal who have been moved by the plight of Bornean Rainforest and its wildlife. Inspired by protecting Bornean orang-utans and elephants, young people donated pocket money, ran bake sales and inspired their parents to get involved too! We met some of these people while we were campaigning, and their support has been so inspiring.”

Record-breaking success

WLT Founder and CEO John Burton commented “Throughout the Saving Kinabatangan appeal, supporters have exceeded any expectations of generosity WLT could have planned for, as evidenced by the extension of the target and land purchases which we didn’t originally think we could achieve. It has also highlighted to the government and local communities of Borneo the fact that the international community really does value their wildlife.

“The threat to this habitat is plain to see by anyone visiting the area- wildlife has been compressed into small strips of forest either side of the river, surrounded by Oil Palm. These critical corridors are under high demand for further expansion of plantations, and without support like this it would not be possible for conservationists to purchase and protect them, so we would like to thank every supporter who contributed to this important appeal.”

For more information, images and interview enquiries, please contact Nina Seale at nina.seale@worldlandtrust.org or telephone 01986 874422.

About World Land Trust (WLT)

World Land Trust (WLT) is an international conservation charity, which protects the world’s most biologically important and threatened habitats acre by acre. Since its foundation in 1989, WLT has funded partner organisations around the world to create reserves and give permanent protection to habitats and wildlife. 

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