The ‘blog’ plan (insofar as I have a plan) is not to talk exclusively about CTF UK and its fund-raising projects and conservation partners in the tropics – although there will be plenty of that. I shall try and bring news of other rainforest conservation initiatives from around the World, making links where I can with my own rainforest experiences to provide a flavour of what it’s like to be there – in the forest.

Sometimes, the focus will be on particular rainforest species, wherever possible with first hand accounts of actually seeing them.  And Rob Llewellyn is going to put life and colour into the whole thing from the huge picture library at his disposal ( I’m going to try and find one of me looking youthful in a rainforest setting many years ago). ‘Every picture tells a story’ my old Granny used to say, mostly when she was trying to get up from her chair. Better than words can ever do, I might add.

And throughout all this, the blog wants reactions and input from you.

What you think of particular conservation plans – or indeed of rainforest conservation in general – worthwhile or waste of time.

Whether you’re actually involved – as a professional or a volunteer – in any rainforest protection schemes.

Or just your own rainforest experiences on your travels to the tropics.

So lets start as we mean to go on. Off at a tangent! By welcoming HRH The Prince of Wales to the rainforest protection community!

As well as talking to little plants in his conservatory (only affectionate banter, you understand, Sir) HRH is now embracing the salvation of big plants in the rainforest. And that makes him the most well-known World figure to wholeheartedly back the critical need to preserve our rainforests.

On 15th July 2008, HRH launched the website for his Rainforest Project

The Project has a very clear objective, somewhat different from the traditional rainforest charities like CTF UK. And that is ‘to find innovative ways of paying the countries that are the custodians of the tropical rainforests an appropriate price for the eco-system services they provide and so out-compete the drivers of deforestation’. Rog interjects – these include the logging companies, developers, politicians and bureaucrats and the desperately poor squatters who follow the logging and development roads, clearing the forest and planting their meagre subsistence crops.

‘Put simply, our aim is to make the rainforests worth more alive than dead’ says the Prince’s Project. They’ve got it right, of course. As my old Granny used to say, ‘it all boils down to money, Roger!’). Finding more of it for the owners of the rainforest, private or public, than they get from the first logging crop and the subsequent sale or rent of the land for cash crops like palm oil, beef and soya to feed the ‘developed’ world.

‘It is worth remembering’ says the Project ‘that it has become accepted throughout the developed world that people pay for utilities such as gas, water and electricity. The rainforests are probably our greatest natural utility, providing huge and irreplaceable benefits. It is time we started to pay for them too.’

The problem is that most of these ‘great natural utilities’ are intangible (to most of us at the moment) or theoretical. Huge supplies of water is an obvious rainforest ‘product’ but while we are used to paying for our water and electricity from the utilities who harvest it – they themselves, mostly, don’t actually pay for it. And we take for granted the air we breath with its delicate balance of gases – one of which we need about every 5 seconds (or thirty if you really try and hold you breath, which I’ve just done!) and the beneficent climates  which make like comfortable for us, both of which owe much to the stabilising influence of the rainforest. At some time in the future, more forest plants may provide many more cures for man’s many ailments – and so on and so on.

So how is the Prince’s Project going to achieve its objectives. There is no real flesh on the bones at the moment but HRH says ‘I have set up my Rainforests Project with the support of some of the World’s biggest businesses and leading experts to work with countries around the World including the Coalition for Rainforest Nations.’  There is, interestingly, no mention of the involvement in the Project of National Governments in the developed world as yet.

When you start a rainforest blog by the way, you start to dig around and broaden the horizons of your knowledge. So, the Coalition for Rainforest Nations was completely new to me – and I shall come back to them in future blogs. If anybody knows anything about them now, blog in babies!

Anyway, having gone off at a tangent, I shall, in the next blog, come right back to CTF UK and its sister charities around the World – and more particularly to the First Children’s Rainforest in Monteverde, Costa Rica – which between us we have helped to conserve.

Because the Monteverde Conservation League, which owns and manages the First Children’s rainforest, already has a project, up and running, which pretty closely matches the Prince’s objectives. Whilst our approach to rainforest preservation – to purchase virgin forest for indigenous conservation organisations to own and manage – is quite different to the Prince’s Project, in the Monteverde Cloud Forest you have a clear example of both approaches.

So in the next blog, I will explain how the Esperanza Watershed Project works – and try and dig out some other working models from around the World as well..

In the meantime, we welcome your comments and ideas and hard information – particularly if you are involved in HRH’s project.


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