What is the Prince's Rainforests Project?


The rainforests are a rich, green belt that surrounds the world at the equator and contains over half the living plant and animal species on the planet. Some people have described these forests as the ‘earth’s lifebelt’ and you can see why. Without their services in storing greenhouse gasses, creating oxygen and rainfall, and providing a home to the most important array of biodiversity on the planet, our Earth would be a very different place and certainly one uninhabitable by mankind.

That’s why HRH The Prince of Wales set up The Prince’s Rainforests Project in late 2007. He had seen the latest evidence that linked climate change directly to the fate of the rainforests and, from his many overseas visits, had witnessed the devastating levels of destruction that are occurring as a result of global demand for beef, soy and palm oil.

Both the United Nations’ and Lord Stern’s latest reports on climate change have said the same thing: The tropical rainforests stand in the front line of our defence against catastrophic climate change. Not only do they soak up around a fifth of the CO2 the world produces every year (second only to the world’s oceans), but at the current rate of destruction they release more CO2 in to the atmosphere than all of the worlds cars, ships and planes put together.

It does seem crazy, doesn’t it? While mankind searches ever more desperately for ways to remove the  CO2 accumulating in our atmosphere, we are busy destroying a natural system that does it more efficiently, and more cheaply, than anything else!


But it’s not only climate change that should concern us. The world gets ever shorter of water as the deserts spread, the glaciers retreat and underground reservoirs diminish.  The rainforests create rain and regulate the weather systems that then carry that rain to the far corners of the Earth, watering the crops on which our world’s burgeoning population depends to feed itself. Quite simply, without the rainforests, the world would be much less able to produce sufficient food.

So what has The Prince’s Rainforests Project done, and what will it do, to solve a problem that has stumped experts for over forty years?

To begin with The Prince’s Rainforests Project has appreciated that no solution will be possible without the participation of the millions of people - some of the poorest on Earth - who depend on the rainforests for their livelihoods. To this end we set up task forces in rainforest regions to talk to local people, organisations and governments about  what  incentives would need to be introduced to persuade people to stop cutting down the trees. We came to the conclusion that it should be the developed world, which after all created the bulk of man-made emissions to date, who should foot most of the bill to create these incentives. We felt that governments’ lives could be made easier if a way could be found to tap into private capital markets, through the active participation of institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance companies. To this end, in our final report prepared in March 2009, we proposed the launch of a Rainforest Bond, underwritten by governments in the developed world and issued with the help of international agencies such as the World Bank, which would raise large amounts of money quickly from the private sector.


Above all, we stressed that there was no time to waste. This had to be seen as an emergency package to confront a clear and present danger to the whole world.

The reaction to our proposal has been encouraging. On April 1st, HRH The Prince of Wales hosted a private meeting of world leaders at St. James’ Palace, who expressed broad support for the idea and agreed to set up a working group to examine the Emergency Package along with other proposals.

So far so good. But political will comes principally from leaders believing that their electorates are behind them and so The Prince’s Rainforests Project has also embarked upon a communications campaign to raise worldwide awareness of the link between rainforests and climate change and persuade people to sign up in support of emergency action to address rainforest destruction.

We have launched a film with prominent people from around the world who care about the forests, like The Dalai Lama and Harrison Ford, to line up with HRH The Prince of Wales to declare their support. In doing this, they are joined by an unusual and photogenic hero - a horned frog - who is The Prince’s Rainforests Project’s ambassador of the rainforests. We have also recognised the key role that businesses, non-profit, and education communities will play in helping to put rainforests at the heart of the climate change agenda.  We are working closely with leaders of these communities in a variety of ways to spread our message about the dangers of tropical deforestation to their constituencies (employees, suppliers, customers and membership).

The great thing is that everyone can join in with the frog. All you have to do is visit www.rainforestSOS.org and follow the instructions to make your own frog message. It is fun and it will definitely be effective.

The important thing for saving the world’s remaining rainforests, though, is what Martin Luther King called ‘the fierce urgency of now’. We have to get an emergency package to the rainforests without delay and you registering your concern and support for the issue will make a difference.

Thank you for reading this and, if you are able to, for supporting us. By signing up at www.rainforestSOS.org or texting SOS and your email address to 60777*, you will be adding your voice to the many already calling for urgent action to fight climate change by addressing the damaging effects to everyone of rainforest destruction.