After the launch of Scorched Earth to Forest Haven, Jonathan Barnard, CEO, explains why we’re supporting this project.
World Land Trust (WLT) is enormously lucky to have incredibly passionate and engaged supporters, and since our Vietnam appeal Scorched Earth to Forest Haven launched I have received multiple emails asking: ‘Why don’t you ask the US government to pay for this?’ It’s a fair question. We have always been aware of the complicated and somewhat controversial history and preconceptions that would arise from this reforestation programme but consider that the work is too important not to face those questions.
As an international conservation charity, WLT do not receive government funding. While most governments around the world are funding conservation efforts and making pledges to the climate and environment, our role has never been to comment on, or determine, any government’s priorities. Our focus has always been to raise funds to enable active and knowledgeable partners to deliver successful conservation programmes where it matters; on the ground.
We are able to do so because of the generous support of individuals, businesses and trusts who believe that we must do something to protect the natural world, and trust WLT to recognise the urgency of projects and opportunities to act. In Vietnam, over 100,000 hectares of land were degraded by the use of toxic chemicals. Many of these acres should – and crucially would – still be forests had it not been for the deployment of these herbicides. It was a tragedy. Now, more than 50 years later, the knowledge and opportunity for successful restoration of some of these areas has arisen. This year, in light of the confirmation that reforestation is, as long known by scientists, a natural climate change solution, the work that Viet Nature has outlined for Bac Huong Hoa Nature Reserve is just as vital as land protection.
It is never easy to choose a special appeal. Our natural world is precious and deserving at all times. What we can do is look for projects that will make real, long-lasting change and combine that with current urgency or opportunity. It is no secret what happened to the landscape of Vietnam. However, dwelling on those actions is not going to change what happens next. It is part of a much wider picture of human-driven changes to habitats, and we are all culpable and all responsible. If there is a means to fix that mistake, save more land and ultimately more species, then WLT is happy, as always, to step up and enable our partners to buy the world a little more time. Tree by tree, acre by acre.
Big Match Fund Fortnight runs until 17th October 2019 so there’s still time to double your donation and make twice as much impact on this incredible landscape.