Recently, The Coffee House has given coverage to Cool Earth, the fundraising initiative to protect the Amazon rainforest (“Cool Earth-revisited“) . While acknowledging the value of the biodiversity within the rainforest, the prime driver for this project is its function as a carbon sink. For between £70 and £100, depending on location, you can ‘buy’ an acre of rainforest and lock in 260 tonnes of CO2.
You don’t really ‘buy’ the land, of course. You don’t own it, you can’t exploit it and you can’t sell it. If you go out to have a picnic on it, you get pilloried for the air miles and emissions associated with getting there. So basically, you are giving a charitable donation. From Cool Earth’s Terms and Conditions:
“Cool Earth Action is not offering for sale any land or biomass. Donors will not receive title to the land sponsored or to the ‘emissions reductions’ achieved by any of Cool Earth Action’s projects.”
I’m not knocking Cool Earth, but when it was suggested that The Coffee House team club together to sponsor their own corporate acre, I had reservations. My doubts were crystallised when an appeal letter from the Woodland Trust, a charity working to protect and expand native woodlands in the UK, came through the letterbox.
Woodland Trust have 3 months to raise £750,000 to acquire 649 acres of Brede High Woods, a large complex of ancient woods and heathland in East Sussex. A designated Site of Nature Conservation Interest within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Brede High Woods contain a rich mosaic of habitats, including rare heathland, and an astounding variety of threatened and unusual species.
This irreplaceable landscape will be parcelled up and auctioned off to private bidders if the £750,000 target is not met. It may be a little strong for the Woodland Trust to say that “ancient woodland is our rainforest”, but it’s probably the closest we can get. If we fail to act to protect sites such as this on our own doorstep, how can we justify sending our money halfway round the world to manipulate the use of natural resources in Brazil? And should we really be surprised when the locals say we should put our own house in order before telling them how to run theirs?