Singapore Airlines commits to rainforest preservation
20 August 2010 (Joint Media Release with BirdLife International)- Singapore Airlines is donating US$3 million in its first major involvement in a large-scale green project with long-term, sustainable benefits for the global environment.
Funds donated by the Airline will go towards supporting the Harapan Rainforest Initiative, a unique collaboration between international non-governmental organisations including BirdLife International and Burung Indonesia (BirdLife Partner in Indonesia).
Representatives from Singapore Airlines, BirdLife International and Yayasan KEHI sealed the agreement at a signing ceremony in Singapore today. The Yayasan is an Indonesian not-for-profit foundation charged by the BirdLife consortium with the day-to-day management of the project.
Straddling Indonesia’s Jambi and South Sumatra provinces, Harapan Rainforest spans almost 100,000 hectares – an area one-and-a-half times the size of Singapore.
The forest concession for Harapan was recently licensed to the BirdLife consortium by the Indonesian Government under a new regulation that allows forests, initially slated for felling or plantations, to be managed for long-term conservation and restoration.
Harapan is one of the world’s first forest protection and restoration concessions of this type, and the licences have been granted for almost 100 years.
Singapore Airlines’ contribution towards the protection and restoration of one of the most extensive tracts of lowland rainforest left in Indonesia reflects its strong belief that environmental efforts must focus on making a real and direct difference to the well-being of our planet, and sustain our shared environment for future generations.
“Singapore Airlines is pleased and excited to be the exclusive airline partner of the Harapan Rainforest Initiative, a project which boasts tangible environmental benefits not just for Indonesia, but for the international community as well. Our support will be for the long term and further down the road we hope to get our customers as well as our staff involved,” said Mr Bey Soo Khiang, the Airline’s Senior Executive Vice-President Marketing and Corporate Services.
“Forests are among the world’s chief carbon stores, and the arrestment of deforestation is a key step towards combating climate change. The funds contributed will be used to set up the Harapan Fund, which will help finance ongoing core operations such as the employment of forest patrols to prevent illegal logging and forest fires as well as plant and animal species protection programmes.”
Some of the wildlife in the Harapan Rainforest is at risk of extinction including the critically endangered Sumatran tiger, the clouded leopard, Malayan tapir and Asian elephant. The forest also boasts over 290 bird species, of which over 60 are considered under threat. New species are being discovered as regular scientific surveys are carried out in the area.
Harapan also plays a significant role in terms of engaging the local indigenous community. Around 800 people from the Bathin Sembilan indigenous group depend on the forest for their livelihood.
“We are working hard to ensure the indigenous communities who still live in the forest feel the benefits of the project, with many social development and employment opportunities being made available,” said Dr Marco Lambertini, Chief Executive of BirdLife International.
“We have hired over 200 local staff, mainly in the positions of forest wardens to draw on their field skills. Just three years into the project the results are already impressive, with a sharp decline in forest fires, illegal logging and poaching,” he added.
"Harapan is a ground-breaking forest restoration project. It is big enough to be extremely important in its own right, but will be of even greater value if, as we very much hope, it serves as a pilot that many others can follow,” said Sir Graham Wynne, Chairman of the Yayasan KEHI.
Speaking about conception of the Harapan Rainforest Initiative, Sir Graham added: “All members of the Yayasan consortium recognise the vision of Burung Indonesia in initiating this project. Furthermore, the government of Indonesia is to be congratulated for its foresight in introducing the regulation that now makes possible restoration of logging concessions. Yayasan KEHI is extremely grateful to Singapore Airlines for their close interest and financial support for the project.”
BirdLife International is the world's largest Partnership of national nature conservation organisations. The Nature Society (Singapore) is the BirdLife Partner in Singapore.
To find out more about the Harapan Rainforest Initiative, log on to http://harapanrainforest.org/.
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