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Your vote counts

02 November 2011

Size of Wales - web2

As part of Cardiff University’s Sustainability Week 2011 (31st October – 4th November), staff and students are being asked to pick which Size of Wales project they’d like the University to support.

Size of Wales is a unique national scheme to sustain an area of tropical forest the size of Wales as part of our national response to climate change.

'An area the size of Wales' is frequently used to measure the rate of forest destruction. Size of Wales initiatives aim to turn that negative use of the country's size on its head, by encouraging the people of Wales to take positive action and help protect an area of tropical forest equivalent to the size of our nation.

The three projects the University and Size of Wales have selected are:

Forest People’s Programme – Land Rights in Guyana

In the Rupunnuni area of Western Guyana the Wapishan peoples have been working to secure the title to their traditional lands for some years. They finally feel they are close to achieving it now and are in final stages of developing their community management plan for the area which also includes savannah land. There are significant areas of forests which are designated for protection within the plan. Their work is funded by the European Commission but they need to raise an additional £25,000 co funding this year which Size of Wales is committed to raising. The forests of Guyana are in the sights of international logging companies who supply logs and plywood into Asian markets as well as greenheart which is used in Europe for marine construction. Gold miners coming over the border from Brazil are another threat because of the chemicals they use to extract gold such as mercury which pollute the rivers.

Why choose this project?

· Securing land rights for indigenous peoples makes a very cost effective, positive and permanent change to the legal status of the forest.

· It is a huge area of forest.

· It’s new to Size of Wales so doesn’t yet have a partner in Wales.

· They don’t need much money compared with most other projects.

· The communities there speak English, as well as their own language which makes communications easier.

· Forest People’s Programme have an impressive track record, it is led by Marcus Colchester, an anthropologist and campaigner of international reputation. It is a part of the World Rainforest Movement which is made up of indigenous peoples’ groups and campaigners mainly from the tropics.

RSBP Gola Forest

The Gola Forest is the most important area of forest remaining in Sierra Leone - the second poorest country on earth - and is recognised as one of the world’s key ‘biodiversity hotspots’. This project aims to ensure that the area is protected in perpetuity and that the people who live around it benefit from its protection. In the absence of this work, the forest would be destroyed by a combination of logging, mining and conversion to agricultural land. Gola was officially gazette as a National Park in 2010.

Why choose this project?

· RSPB are one of the largest membership organizations in the UK which gives the Size of Wales partnership with RSPB Cymru fantastic reach as through them we can communicate with over 1 million RSPB UK members. They are planning a UK wide supporter fundraising campaign with Size of Wales in early 2012.

· RSPB have been working in Gola for a long time and are well established there with local partners.

· Gola has just been awarded National Park status in 2010 which is an important step towards protecting it as it can’t be leased to logging or plantation companies.

· They now need to put the staff, skills and infrastructure in place to make it a national park in practice as well as in name.

· Gola doesn’t yet have a Size of Wales Partner but RSPB Cymru’s office is in Cardiff so it would make it easy to work with them and to get input at events.

Tomanian Trees for Trade – Mali

Rural farms in the Tominian district of Mali are at the mercy of the weather. If the rains don't come, crops fail and food is scarce, whilst other sources of income are few and far between. This project uses native trees that are adapted to the arid landscape to produce marketable goods. Villagers are given the skills and equipment needed to create tree based businesses. Businesses based on these trees sell forest honey, shea nuts and tamarind fruit. The money from the sale of these products is used not only to buy food, but also clothes, education, healthcare, livestock, seeds and fertiliser.

Why choose this project?

· It is primarily a reforestation project and people here like planting trees because it is very tangible.

· There is an intensive community development and capacity building element of the project.

· Tree Aid are in Bristol so can work with a partner in Cardiff fairly easily.

· While the projects has had some funding from Size of Wales they do not yet have a partner in Wales.

Your vote counts

During Sustainability Week, staff and students can vote on which project they’d like the University to support.

You can register your vote through our survey which is available here.

Voting closes at 5.00pm on Friday 4th November. The winning forest project will be announced on Thursday 10th November 2011 when we’ll also tell you more about how you can get involved and how the University’s support will help the project.