Birmingham International Airport (BIA) has invested £20,000 to protect 180 acres of endangered rainforest in Brazil, locking up nearly 50,000 tonnes of CO2; the equivalent used by the Airport’s buildings over two years. The sponsorship also includes purchasing classroom equipment, solar powered internet, and a boat for a school in the heart of the Amazon called ‘Escola Estadual’, which serves communities in a 10-mile radius in the state of Mato Grosso.
To make this happen, the Airport has teamed up with Cool Earth, a charity that protects endangered rainforest from deforestation, something which is thought to account for more than 18% of the world’s emissions; a share greater than that produced by the entire transport sector.
Co-founder of Cool Earth, Rt. Hon. Frank Field MP, said, “Preventing deforestation quite simply combats global warming, protects ecosystems and provides sustainable jobs for local people. The simple idea behind Cool Earth is that the rainforests are worth much more to the environment if they are left standing, helping to cool the planet, than if they are cut down for timber or burnt to clear land for cattle.
“Through our charity, sponsors can secure land that would otherwise be sold to loggers and ranchers, pricing deforestation out of the market. We put donations into a local trust, and protect the forests around the clock to keep the carbon where it belongs, ensuring that rainforest communities take the lead in conservation and get the full benefit of better incomes and security that standing forest provides. Sponsorship also helps to fund community health and education services.”
The area of Rainforest the Airport is protecting is in an area called Democracia, which lies on the northerly bank of the Rio Madeira or "Wood River" and is right at the frontier of destruction. Loggers began cutting timber here in 2005, but since Cool Earth secured the forest the area will be protected for at least the next 25 years. The mature forest is immensely important to the local community which relies on harvesting produce from it for income and they now have free access to 30,000 acres.
BIA’s protection of 200 acres will also save 4,000 mature trees, over 17,000 saplings, 16 endangered animals, 322 types of plant and over 11,000 species of insect and worm.
To enhance this initiative and deliver benefits to the Airport’s local community, BIA and Cool Earth have been working with Small Heath School & Sixth Form College in Birmingham to build the initiative into the school’s curriculum, and over the last four months, students have been learning about all things Brazilian, including studies in culture, environment, language, sport, history, arts, music and cuisine.
The partnership even received praise from HRH The Prince of Wales, who wrote a letter to the Airport, expressing how much he admired the efforts of the students at Small Heath School, working with BIA to protect the rainforest. His Royal Highness is passionate about this issue and recently announced the creation of the ‘The Prince of Wales Rainforest Project’, which is working with the private sector, governments and environmental experts – including Cool Earth - to find solutions to this crucial issue.
The Airport’s initiative was launched today at Small Heath School and was attended by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham and Brazilian born Birmingham City Footballer Rafael Schmitz. Rafael played ‘futsal’ with year 9 students, and a live internet link enabled the students to see and speak to the children in Escola Estadual for the first time and perform some of their new music skills. This signified the start of a unique and long-term relationship.
John Morris, the Airport’s Head of Corporate and Community Affairs, said, “Overall, aviation contributes 2% of the worlds CO2; however it’s committed to finding ways to mitigate its operations. Birmingham Airport is totally dedicated to this and today’s launch is one of the many ways we are acting on reducing our global impacts whilst helping communities. We’re proud of this joint partnership and hope it continues to grow from strength to strength.”
Peter Slough, Small Heath School’s Headteacher, said, “Being involved in this project has not just been educational but also enjoyable and rewarding; particularly today seeing the students in Brazil. It sits at the heart of our aim to provide tangible and fulfilling results and supports our position as finalist in the ‘Eco Schools Award Scheme’ which guides schools on their sustainable journey whilst providing a framework to help embed these principles into the heart of school life.”
To find out more about Cool Earth or to make a donation, visit www.coolearth.org