A meeting on deforestation took place at Lancaster House today, hosted by the International Sustainability Unit (ISU) and Unilever; the meeting was attended by Prince Charles, in his capacity as founder of the ISU.
The Prince of Wales made a passionate plea for the protection of the rainforest at the event, an issue that he has had an interest in for many years. The main focus of the Prince’s speech was the Brazilian Cerrado. Environmentalists fear that because of partially successful schemes to protect the Amazon Rainforest, the exploitation of the environment for commodities such as beef and soy has been pushed into traditionally less exploited areas such as the Cerrado, a vast tropical Savannah covering over 772,000 square miles.
HRH co-hosted a meeting today to discuss how companies and countries can help decrease their impact on forests around the world. pic.twitter.com/3gXzlvDXNt
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) October 25, 2017
Only one picture has been released of the Prince at the event.
Charles told the event’s international audience: “An increasing concern is the extent to which success in reducing agricultural expansion into forests comes at the expense of the destruction of other wonderful ecosystems such as the Cerrado, the Chaco and the world’s remaining Savannahs. All of these are also vital for the services they provide and the biodiversity that they sustain.”
The conference was attended by forested countries including Brazil, Ghana, Gabon and Indonesia, and a group of 23 companies were also present, signing a new resolution to halt the destruction of the Cerrado, and to ensure that any future commercial exploitation of the area is sustainable and well-managed. The companies included popular retailers such as Walmart, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, McDonald’s, Nando’s, Nestle, and L’Oreal.
Despite the fact that the Cerrado is less well known than the Amazon, it is one of the most biologically rich areas of Savannah on earth, being home to over 200 species of mammal, 10 unique bird species, and more than 10,000 plant species.
The heir to the throne noted the effect that the deforestation of rainforests such as the Cerrado had on the world’s environment. “Notwithstanding all the progress made, it remains indisputably and demoralisingly the case that we are not winning,” the Prince said, adding that at least 10 million hectares of forest continue to be lost each year, with “new fronts of deforestation opening all the time”.
“Recent science suggests, as a result of loss and degradation, forests now act as a carbon source, rather than a carbon sink. Despite the enormity of the challenge, I remain convinced that, by working together, it is still possible to take the decisive action necessary to save the world’s remaining forests.”
Rory Stewart MP, Minister of State for International Development, represented the government at the conference, and pledged the UK’s assistance. He said that there had been a tendency in the past for government to “turn up, do some capacity-building and move on”, but that in future, aid spending would depend on local needs. Mr Stewart also promised that the government would build environmental concerns into its procurement practices, and the incentives it offers in future trade deals.
The RSPB’s Ruth Davis was also present and said: “The UK is heavily reliant on other countries for the products we consume. This has significant consequences for the planet.”
“We, as a country, now have the opportunity to show global leadership, in not only protecting our own nature but also ensuring that our demand for products grown and manufactured overseas does not cause environmental degradation and destruction.”