Simon Barnes, Nicola Davies, Su Ingle and Chris Jenkin called for action to save the destruction of the world’s last wild places, at an event organised by World Land Trust (WLT) in London.
The event, focusing on spreading the word, was designed to inspire WLT supporters, ambassadors and sponsors to help WLT and its work and success become better known.
The four guest speakers were chosen specifically because each of them enjoys finding innovative and creative ways to communicate the WLT message. Simon is a WLT Council member and Nicola, Su and Chris are ambassadors for the Trust. All four of them are passionate advocates for World Land Trust.
As an author and journalist, Simon uses his books and regular columns in The Times to report on endangered species and threatened habitats that are the subject of WLT appeals.
Simon believes that WLT “by being comparatively small and highly transparent is far easier to trust that many much larger organisations.”
(Simon Barnes, writer and WLT Council Member)
In his talk, he described the moment when people began to realise that time is running out: “It was suddenly clear that this world is the only world we’ve got – and admittedly we still carried on as if we still had several more to spare – but even as we do so we are aware of the desperate frailty of our world, and of the need to do something about it.”
Drawing on his experience of foreign travel and in particular his visits to WLT projects, he argued that the WLT approach is the most effective: “So this then is the way forward… being so clever and so deeply involved with the local people that you can use a comparatively small amount of money to bring about a comparatively large miracle.”
Children’s book author Nicola Davies described a trip to a WLT project in India to research her children’s book The Elephant Road set in the Garo Hills. The purpose of the visit was to understand better the people of the Garo Hills so that the cultural, economic and emotional roots of the story would “wiggle their way down into the hearts of my readers”.
(Nicola Davies, author and WLT ambassador)
Following the visit Nicola was able to base her book on “drawing from life”, real children and adults living in the way of an elephant migration path. By communicating in the book elements of the culture of the Garo Hills, she hopes that readers will absorb the conservation message on a deeper level and come to appreciate why creating safe elephant corridors is vital for both people and wildlife.
Nicola defined a WLT supporter as someone who “believes that we have the power to protect what remains of the natural world, that we have the power to take action to protect the natural world from the tsunami of threats that are currently facing it.” She stressed the importance of putting across the message that “the battle for the natural world is by no means lost. Organisations and individuals can take action to save it, bit by bit, tree by tree, plot by plot.”
Television presenter Su Ingle believes that painting virtual pictures is vital to trigger enthusiasm. Simply listing facts and figures such as acres of trees cut down, for example – can be meaningless because they are often impossible to envisage and too much for people to take in. Instead, she suggests, strong, visual descriptions of events and experiences can be much more effective.
(Su Ingle, presenter and WLT ambassador)
Hearing someone’s reactions when entering a dense rainforest after travelling through acre after acre of desolate monoculture can conjure up powerful images and make people take notice.
Trying to define the importance of a wildlife corridor may be tricky, but talking about a simple rope bridge between trees for an Orang-utan to cross a tributary may be a better way to explain why wildlife corridors are vital for the survival of some species.
“Passion and pictures are the two main ingredients in successful communication. If you’ve got that you’re going to make people care. And when they start to care they want to go and do something.”
And doing something is what WLT wants people to do.
Su called on those present to do their utmost to communicate the message of the Trust in their own words: “WLT is about taking action before it’s too late, and that’s why we need to spread the word.”
Chris Jenkin is Managing Director of WLT’s longest standing corporate sponsor, Enterprise Plants, and uses his business activity to promote the Trust. Where possible, Enterprise Plants finds imaginative ways to donate to World Land Trust, through sales of its orchid planters, for example, or through its orders for Christmas trees.
(Chris Jenkin, Managing Director of Enterprise Plants and WLT ambassador)
He believes that WLT understands that commercial support works both ways. “Our relationship with WLT has always been about more than just giving money and we have looked for ways of not only raising funds but also raising the profile and awareness of the Trust’s work.”
This approach has helped raise the profile of Enterprise Plants and set the company apart from the competition in what is a very competitive market. Chris is always happy to pass on WLT information to clients in the hope that they will either donate or at least become WLT aware.
For Chris, one of the highlights of Enterprise Plants’ partnership was working with WLT on the gold medal winning exhibit at Chelsea Flower Show three years ago. More recently, in 2013, Enterprise Plants has also sponsored BBC Magazine’s Camera-Trap Photo of the Year competition in association with WLT.
Without the partnership with WLT, he argues, “we’d certainly be a different company and probably a smaller one. The overall relationship is one that is bigger than the sum of its parts and that is what is important to us. “
Puro Fairtrade Coffee
Also present were Frans Van Tilborg (Managing Director) and Andy Orchard, both from Miko Coffee, WLT supporters through the Puro Fairtrade Coffee brand. The Puro Coffee promotional video was shown during the evening and Frans and Andy answered questions from the audience about the beneficial aspects of Puro’s support for WLT.