This spring I was fortunate enough to make it to the final of a UK-wide competition, run by Tesco in conjunction with the RSPB, to find a “Rainforest Reporter”. It was an altogether amazing experience and I didn’t even win! Imagine how the winner, Gareth Jones, would have felt?! His training involved a day’s tuition from the rather hunky Ed Stafford, an adventurer and explorer and the first man ever to walk the length of the Amazon river.
Following on from the frivolities of the London final and the celebrity training Gareth then set off on the more serious journey of a trip to Sierra Leone. From the Gola rainforest, Gareth produced a series of short blogs about conservation efforts by the RSPB and their overseas partners. Most importantly, for me, he spent time with the real heroes of rainforest conservation, the people well and truly on the front line. I am delighted to be able to read one of Gareth’s articles on today’s Guardian Environment pages. You had read the beautifully written article here.
The together for trees project is a true conservation project, not just for a species, but for an ecosystem. The people are as integral to this project as the trees themselves. Sustainable livelihoods in a thriving forest, let’s hope so!
It’s actually very easy to ignore the ‘eco-messages’ that every business is now obliged to purvey, perhaps the Tesco ‘Together for Trees’ message has passed you by? Feel how you may about Tesco and their exploits, this can only be seen as a step in the right direction; buy the together for trees reusable bags when you need one, donate your clubcard points when you’re feeling generous – if we’re opting in to the conglomerate scheme then let’s direct it where we want it to go!
As an RSPB member, and ex-employee, Gareth’s voyage of discovery fills me with great hope. With the RSPB claim that 91 pence in every pound donated is spent on conservation, ‘ to know it’s getting to the right places.
Congratulations to Gareth for spreading the good news from the forests. It’s great to know that all is not yet lost, not yet.
P.s- thank you to Gareth for the use of his photographs.
I now know why those people cry on X-factor and other such programmes. Realising their dream is just moments away and in the hands of a panel whom they’ve had just moments to impress. Standing outside the Natural History Museum in London today (my favourite indoor place might I add) I was overcome with emotion at the idea that I could realise my dream… to go to the rainforest and report back. Although the competition itself, for the RSPB/Tesco collaboration ‘together for trees’ is a recent development, my wanting to broadcast environmental news has been a lifelong ambition and why you see this page in front of you now. The emotion I felt was mixed, to be so close to a dream and not achieve it and also the what if I win excitement. Either way, it has been a fabulous experience of which I am proud to have taken part in and today’s London final was an AMAZING experience; not least because of the people who I met today.
The other finalists were a fantastic bunch and we chatted as we each went downstairs for a grilling from the panel. The panel consisted of Ed Stafford (Explorer and Together for trees representative), Ruth Giradet ( Tesco Corporate Responsibility and Community Director), Adam Vaughan (Editor of the Guardian Environment site) and Dieter Hoffman (RSPB Head of International Country Programmes) – what a dream?! It was billed as a grilling, but I enjoyed every second and wish I had at least twice as long to convey exactly how much I thought I could do this opportunity justice. Twenty minutes is a very short time.
We had one more short task to complete, which was an all-finalist discussion under observation by the panel, before we were treated to the ‘Animal Inside Out Exhibition’ at the Natural History Museum. We scrutinised the insides of squids as the panel, no doubt, sat about scrutinising us. They’d have had a hard job i’d say with such strong candidates in attendance.
Alas, I do not yet know my fate.
There is a startling fact that has kept cropping up as I prepared for this competition… an area of rainforest the size of a football pitch is being destoyed every four seconds. That’s the sort of statistic we all hear banded about, but please just think about it as you read this again… an area of rainforest the size of a football pitch is being destroyed every four seconds. That is almost incomprehensible to me. Whichever lucky soul gets to go and report from the rainforest on behalf of together for trees is going to have a huge impact on public awareness of the rainforests’ plight and this is fantastic news and makes it a very worthwhile expedition in my eyes.
Thanks for reading,