Hope for the future - Fauna & Flora International

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Hope for the future Turning challenges into opportunities

HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands became president of Fauna & Flora International (FFI) in 2012. She takes an active interest in sustainability and environmental issues, and is passionate about promoting global literacy and giving the younger generation a voice in their future, particularly where sustainable use of the planet’s finite resources is concerned. Here, she gives her personal perspective on the challenges facing conservation, and explains why she remains optimistic that FFI can meet them.

Chris Loades/FFI

Left: HRH Princess Laurentien wearing FFI’s iconic oryx lapel badge.

4 | Fauna & Flora

I have been closely involved with the work of Fauna & Flora International (FFI) for well over a decade. Even before I became a council member back in 2003, I had admired its egalitarian, partnership approach to conservation. The many conversations I have had with FFI team members and partners, brought to life by several field visits, have further enhanced my appreciation of the collective effort and individual dynamism and dedication that go into making our programmes so successful. There is no disputing the fact that we have our work cut out. Some of the headline statistics on species and habitat loss do not make comfortable reading, and it is easy to understand how people – particularly the next generation – might feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task facing

those of us who dare to dream of a sustainable future for our planet. Addressing the primary causes of biodiversity decline such as habitat loss, invasive alien species, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, pollution and human-induced climate change requires a multifaceted, coordinated, collaborative approach. We need to make conservation relevant to all people from all walks of life, and in their roles as consumers and citizens. Similarly, we need to demonstrate to governments and businesses that local livelihoods, political stability and profitability are equally dependent on the sustainable use of natural resources. This is a formidable task, and I am proud to tell you from personal experience that FFI is tackling it. Many



of the pages in this issue provide reallife examples of how FFI is addressing those very same causes of biodiversity loss – and they all provide hope for the future.

FFI has a well-earned reputation for ecological restoration, particularly in a Caribbean context, and its work to rescue the Antiguan racer and simultaneously relieve the pressure on other native wildlife is widely acknowledged as an exemplar of conservation best practice. Work is now under way to remove invasive alien rats and goats from the island of Redonda, which should – if all goes to plan – have a similarly beneficial effect on native plants and animals, including incredibly rare reptiles that are found nowhere else on earth.

In the face of human-induced climate change, FFI is among those championing new ideas to combat global warming. By providing financial incentives to local communities for keeping their forests standing in places like Liberia, Vietnam and Indonesia, we are simultaneously conserving biodiversity, providing sustainable livelihood alternatives and reducing carbon emissions. I witnessed this kind of work first hand during my recent trip to Borneo and Nusa Lembongan in Indonesia, so I know what is happening behind the scenes and behind the headlines. And I know it’s effective. We have no other choice than to remain optimistic, despite all adversity and immense challenges. The many real-life successes fill me with a sense of optimism, and they are part of a bigger picture that began to emerge in 2016.

Left: Sustainable harvesting of fynbos. Below: Encouraging traditional farming practices in Romania helps to safeguard