Frank is the co-founder of Cool Earth, a unique charity that aims to protect the world’s most endangered rainforest from the ground-up by working hand in hand with local communities.
The idea behind Cool Earth is that rainforests are worth much more left standing – both for the planet and for local communities. Cool Earth believes that protecting rainforests offers the single largest opportunity for cost-effective and immediate reductions in carbon emissions (as noted in the influential Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change
, authored by the economist Sir Nicholas Stern, a member of the Cool Earth Advisory Board). Our solution is simple: to secure land that would otherwise be sold to loggers and ranchers and to price deforestation out of the market.
Cool Earth was set up as a reaction to the fact that global institutions and the mainstream conservation movement had to date made little progress in halting deforestation. It signalled a new and innovative ‘bottom-up’ approach. Cool Earth enables every individual, family, school and business in the UK and around the world to have an immediate impact in protecting areas of rainforest that would otherwise be destroyed. Supporters can sponsor acres of rainforest or even specific trees. We rely on our supporters to raise the necessary funds rather than waiting for governments to take the action needed to keep rainforests standing.
- With supporters’ money, Cool Earth secures rainforest which would otherwise be destroyed over the next 18 months. We only protect rainforest that is in imminent danger and which without our intervention would be cleared.
- We protect areas with high levels of biodiversity which store at least 260 tonnes of CO2 per acre.
- Cool Earth ensures that the money that our individual sponsors donate goes directly to the rainforest projects. Less than 10% of supporters’ donations go towards administration.
- The United Nations and other experts acknowledge that local community management is the most effective way to tackle deforestation. What communities need are legal rights to their land and technical assistance. We pioneer a version of this model.
- We put supporters’ donations into local trusts and help enable local communities to become the legal custodians of their land.
- Through community rangers and satellite imagery we monitor and protect the rainforest from any illegal activity around the clock.
- We think strategically, protecting land which will block off surrounding forest from illegal loggers.
- As a result of this strategy, whilst Cool Earth has directly protected over 200,000 acres of rainforest that would have been destroyed, we have also saved many millions more acres as the protected land acts as a blockade to vast areas of neighbouring interior forest.
- There’s no denying that logging has provided income to some local rainforest communities. Cool Earth enables them to earn a better income through sustainable employment programmes.
- By supporting schools, clinics and sustainable jobs, Cool Earth makes sure forest protection goes hand in hand with better lives.
- When someone sponsors a part of the rainforest through Cool Earth, we plot the exact coordinates on Google Maps and set up a Cool Earth account which acts as a window to the tropics and a way of keeping in touch with the sponsored project.
Cool Earth is supported by an eminent Advisory Board, which includes luminaries from the worlds of business, ecology, politics and economics.
For more information about Cool Earth, including details about how you can get involved, please visit the Cool Earth website
THE COOL EARTH STORY
“The idea for the charity was conceived in March 2007 when I came across a Sunday Times news report about the efforts of businessman Johan Eliasch. Johan is Chairman of The HEAD Group, the leading sports equipment manufacturer. He was formerly the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Deforestation and Clean Energy and authored The Eliasch Review: Climate Change, Financing Global Forests
, an independent report analysing international financing to reduce forest loss and its associated impacts on climate change.
Johan had just bought a part of the Brazilian rainforest larger than the size of London. He stopped the logging that had been occurring there, employing members of the local community as rangers and giving open access to local communities for sustainable farming.
When I read of Johan’s personal initiative, I realised that an umbrella organisation could adapt this model and have a much greater impact. It occurred to me that there were tens of millions of ordinary people like me who would jump at the opportunity of ‘sponsoring’ forest to save the planet, so I emailed Johan to ask whether he would be interested in setting up an international trust to protect the world’s rainforests. Within 20 seconds he had replied and we had fixed a planning meeting. Cool Earth was born from that initial meeting.
In the four years since then, Cool Earth has recruited 130,000 global supporters who have protected over 200,000 acres of rainforest that would otherwise have been lost to logging. This in turn has prevented more than fifty million tonnes of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. Money from donations is transferred to local trusts in order to assist rainforest communities in becoming the legal custodians of their land and assist with the development of schools, clinics and local jobs. This is certainly not ‘green colonialism’ – Cool Earth itself never owns any land, and the local communities we work with are always in charge.”
Frank Field, May 2011
Cool Earth currently has community based conservation projects in Peru
and has a number of new projects in development.
Javier Dril Bustamante, Cool Earth's leading indigenous partner and President of the Ashaninka Bioclimatic Association in Peru
WHY PROTECTING THE WORLD’S RAINFORESTS IS VITAL
- If we lose rainforests, we lose the fight against climate change. The protection of tropical forests is the most urgent task in combating climate change.
- According to the Stern Review, protecting rainforests offers the single largest opportunity for cost-effective and immediate reductions in carbon emissions.
- Rainforests are the ‘lungs of the Earth’. There is a key dual benefit to keeping forests standing:
- Across the world, forests absorb about a quarter of all carbon emissions. This is an indispensable contribution to life as we know it.
- Up to 20% of all carbon emissions are caused by deforestation – more than the global transport sector.
- Tropical forests contain over half the world’s biodiversity and provide vital ecosystem services that truly underpin life on Earth (including climate, water, food and energy security, as well as human health and livelihoods from local to global scale).
- The value of the world’s rainforest is truly priceless. However, economists have attempted to put a monetary value on what is at stake. ‘Negative externalities’ from forest loss are estimated to cost between US$2 trillion and US$4.5 trillion a year.
- Projecting ‘primary’ rainforest is vital, and these forests are actually seizing the opportunity of a carbon-heavy atmosphere to suck up even more carbon than they did previously.
- However, in the past six decades, the world’s rainforests have been reduced by over 60% and the destruction process is currently occurring at a furious speed.
- In the past decade, an area the size of England has been lost each year.
The Financial Times