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HRH hosts a reception in support of BirdLife International's Sumatra Rainforest Campaign

17th June 2004

The Prince of Wales has lent his support to a campaign to save Indonesian rainforest from destruction, and said that he did not want to be accused by his grandchildren of not trying to help.

The Prince held a reception in support of BirdLife International's Sumatra Rainforest Campaign at Clarence House.

The project aims to save 60,000 to 80,000 hectares of Sumatra's rainforest through conservation and rehabilitation.

His Royal Highness talked with representatives from the Indonesian government and leading bird organisations.

In his speech, The Prince talked about the 211 species of birds and 32 species of mammal which were at risk if the rainforest disappeared.

He said: “This is one of the most innovative attempts, I think, to preserve a large and highly biologically valuable area of forest outside the formal protection system.”

The Prince said rainforests were being destroyed at an astonishing rate for timber, paper and palm oil and said: “I don't want any of my grandchildren - or yours for that matter - to accuse me of not doing anything about it when, in fact, we could do something about it.

“We know exactly what we are doing, we know the damage we are causing and time is literally running out.”

The Prince said the environmental mistakes made in the past were having a profound impact on the present and future.

“I happen to think that an entire flock of mistaken chickens from the last century are coming home to roost in so many areas of life: we saw it in Haiti, we are seeing it with global warming and the decline of fish stocks and, of course, the plight of the albatross.”

For many years, The Prince has expressed his concern about the environment and has made many speeches on issues ranging from deforestation to the plight of the albatross.

The BirdLife partnership was founded in 1994 and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is the UK BirdLife member.

The BirdLife International Sumatran Rainforest Campaign is aimed at helping BirdLife buy the logging concession for 60,000 to 80,000 hectares of lowland rainforest in Sumatra.

The land will be used to restore and maintain its globally-important lowland rainforest for the benefit of people, birds and wider biodiversity, and will be used as a model for sustainable tropical rainforest management in Indonesia and worldwide.

Dr Ani Mardiastuti, chairman of BirdLife Indonesia, said she was “overwhelmed” by The Prince's involvement.

“I was so happy, I thought - wow - this Prince abroad is interested in Sumatra. We are so proud and overwhelmed, this is a real honour.”

Alistair Gammell, director of international operations for the RSPB, said The Prince's report had really helped this new and important project.

“He has taken an interest in a number of things we are doing, said Mr Gammell.

“He is very supportive of our work and he brings an important profile - he really takes a personal interest.”