The World Land Trust is a UK based charity which was founded in 1989. They were one of the first organisations to focus on conserving threatened habitats by purchasing land. Working with 30 partner organisations they protect biologically important and threatened habitats across the world giving the wildlife in these areas permanent protection.
So far they’ve secured 600,000 acres of endangered habitat across 20 countries and ensure that more than four million acres of land is managed including a project in the UK. Purchased land is then protected and managed by one of their NGO’s or the local community who employ local people as reserve rangers to protect the land.
How are they making a difference?
Not only do WLT protect and restore large areas of forest but they also create corridors to connect fragmented areas which reduces human-animal conflict and increases the genepool of many threatened species, giving them a stronger chance of surviving in the wild.
Their ‘buy an acre’ scheme has been hugely successful in purchasing large areas of threatened land for conservation. In addition to this the World Land Trust also run a number of other projects such as their Plant a Tree Appeal which has helped to expand a number of their sites. Within a couple of years of planting on the reserves fruiting trees can provide an important food source for wildlife bolstering their survival aspects.
They have also set up projects to protect critically endangered animals such as blue throated macaws in Barba Azul Nature Reserve, Bolivia, raised £500000 to protect big cat habitats in Argentina and Brazil and £1 million for the Keruak corridor for Bornean Orang-utans.
So why is this so important?
About 80% of the worlds documented species live in tropical rainforests. When they lose their homes in the forest they struggle to survive in the fragments of their remaining habitat becoming more accessible to poachers and hunters and face greatly restricted food resources etc.
Additionally, one acre of trees can absorb 6 tons of carbon dioxide and put back 4 tons of oxygen per year but over 18.5 million acres of forest are lost annually. Absorbing carbon Dioxide also eases climate change by soaking up what would otherwise be left in the atmosphere.
Deforestation comes in many forms including conversion for agriculture and cattle ranching, unsustainable logging for timber, fires and degradation due to climate change. Purchasing threatened land challenges these but doesn’t necessarily guarantee the safety of that forest. Once land is under the World Land Trust’s protection new difficulties often arise such as,
- Illegal poaching and hunting on their protected land
- The theft of rare plants
- Farming- livestock spread onto protected reserves
- Fires- both natural and deliberately started
In response to these threats the WLT ‘Keepers of the wild’ program employs people from local communities who are responsible for patrolling reserves to deter poachers and check for signs of illegal activity, monitor wildlife, aid with research, rescue wildlife in difficulty, maintain fences and pathways, carry out guided walks to encourage and support tourism and to look after their tree nurseries and planting. It’s a diverse role and these rangers are essential to challenging these threats and maintaining the World Land Trust’s protected areas.
https://www.worldlandtrust.org/species/ – Here you will find a small selection of the amphibians, reptiles, plants, mammals and birds that the World Land Trust helps to protect.