Monday, July 30, 2007

Two Takes on Going Green in the 21st Century

Here at the Wilderness Foundation we understand that simply lecturing people about conservation doesn't really work in its own right - that's why our core work is focused around bringing young people out into Wilderness - because understanding of the wild leads to the passion to protect it.

Still, most of us have to return to the city from time to time, and that means facing a world where 'leave no trace' is somewhat more difficult to practice at both a micro and macro level, even with the leadership skills gained on trail.

It can seem overwhelming for even the most determined.

That's where a sort of 'Green Economics' is coming into focus from previously unexpected quarters: Green is slowly reaching the markets we all rely on and not only that - Passion comes to play too.

Here are two takes on it we hope will inspire our trail-alumni and others to take the message to political and economic leaders otherwise thought unapproachable:

If you watch this TED Talk below - you might have issues with some of the conclusions drawn, but the bottom line is that the speaker, John Doerr, puts his money where his mouth is. Here's a man with Class A old-school capitalist credentials saying:
"I'm really scared. I don't think we're going to make it".
Now that's just the opening line... If you want to see passion, wait for what he closes off with.

Our second example comes from the Council of Foreign Relations who had a talk entitled 'How Protecting Our Environment Will Create Economic Growth' by no less than the Humvee-driving, gasoline-guzzling, cigar chomping Schwarzenegger, Governor of California.

What's he saying?:
"...environmentalists were also thought of as being kind of weird and strange and fanatics and the kind of serious tree-huggers, as you know. Environmentalists were no fun."


"But who are the fanatics now? They are actually the ones that live in denial -- in economic denial, political denial and environmental denial."

- Full transcript or watch in Windows Media Player or Quicktime.

A real shift is happening.

This is Green reaching the markets we all rely on, bringing change.

It is people who you wouldn't otherwise expect to say something 'green' in turn reaching people who would not otherwise give the environment another thought...
We expect you can use a few of the facts from the videos above to create new constructive conversations for change with the people around you.

Visit the Ride Earth website - Check out the Blog and PodcastNow, if you want to put your money where your mouth is - why not sponsor Ride Earth who are bravely working their way around the world using just pedal power whilst raising awareness of the importance of Wilderness conservation?

Any contribution helps us continue our work of developing young leaders with a strong environmental conscience.

You can of course also make a difference right now - share this article on Facebook, Digg, Newsvine or whatever Social Networking tool you use. (Links immediately below).

...and don't forget to get out into nature - whether local park, nearby Wildland or further away Wilderness. It is good for passion and it is passionate people who make a difference.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Ride Earth in Geneva - and how to watch their podcast

Now six weeks into their 41.000+ mile journey, Ride Earth have hit Geneva. Do read the full account of progress so far.

If you haven't already checked out Episode 1 of their podcast then now's the time to do it. It can be watched 'in-page' here: but we recommend subscribing via iTunes or the excellent and somewhat lighter Miro player. That way you'll get the latest automatically and you'll be able to watch it in full screen.

If you already have iTunes, click here to subscribe or simply launch iTunes and select Subscribe to Podcast from the Advanced menu and copy-paste this into the box that appears: - That's it. Every time you launch iTunes it'll check for updates.

If you use Miro - Just highlight the URL above, switch to Miro and then use the shortcut Ctrl+N to add a new channel and the dialogue box should have the URL ready to go. Click OK and it'll pick up the most recent podcast. Ctrl+F for full screen during playback.

Whilst we're on the subject of moving images with sound... Here are a couple of recommended green channels:

Life on TerraLife on Terra "is a collaborative filmspace and laboratory exploring the questions and ideas on the cutting-edge of science and at the farthest horizons of the natural world. TERRA films have been downloaded over one million times." - TERRA on iTunesTERRA on Miro

Films4ConservationFilms4Conservation "is a collaborative non-profit initiative bringing together activists from social and environmental groups, and helping them get their message heard at a national and international level." - BlogFilms4Conservation on Miro

Wilderness Foundation TVWilderness Foundation TV - That's right, you can get our occasional videos directly into Miro. Add channel to the player by clicking here.

Find more Open TV channels for the Miro Player @

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Award Opportunity for Social Change

London Social Enterprise NetworkWe keep an eye out for award and funding opportunities for the alumni of the Wilderness Leadership School to help them put the skills gained to make an impact for the environment.

Here's one just in - (we heard about it through the London Social Enterprise Network) and added a few highlights:

The Be Cause Awards (UK)

UnLtd, the charity which supports social entrepreneurs has announced that it has launched a new award scheme in partnership with Bebo, a social networking website. The “Be Cause Awards” is a new scheme to inspire people to make a difference in their community. Using the Be Cause toolkit, applicants can put together a robust plan for a social action or social enterprise project and then enter it for a monthly Be Cause Award. If your idea meets Be Cause criteria, applicants can be in the running for a £1,000 award to help get a project off the ground. Applicants can nominate their project for an award, or if other in the Bebo community can enter it if they think it's a good idea.

Every month a panel of experts from UnLtd and Bebo will select five projects from all those nominated that have the potential to make a positive impact on society. The whole Bebo community will then be asked to vote for the best project over a two-week period. The project which receives the most votes will be awarded the £1,000 award, as well as receiving ongoing support and advice from UnLtd in order to maximise the potential of the project. Every year a Judges Choice Award of £5,000 will be given to the project with the best ongoing potential. In addition, everyone who takes part in the Be Cause Awards will be eligible for further support and funding from UnLtd if the projects show enough promise to be expanded and developed.

For more information, go to:
We hope alumni and others will go for it!

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Freakonomics Quorum: How to Save the African Rhino?

The African Rhino is an animal close to our hearts - first of all because it is an incredibly impressive sight up close when on a Wilderness trail but also because of the efforts of Dr. Ian Player, our founder. Without his efforts leading Operation Rhino in the sixties it is doubtful if there'd be any White Rhino left today.

Rhinos are still under pressure in many areas of Southern Africa and thus we welcome the fact that economists have taken an interest in their preservation. As Dr. Player, has many a time commented:

"Conservation without funds is just a conversation"
... and thus it is particularly interesting when representatives from the the 'dismal science' weigh in with their opinion:

A Freakonomics Quorum: How to Save the African Rhino? - Is an article by Stephen J Dubner, (co-author of the interesting and somewhat controversial bestseller Freakonomics, on the blog of the same name), drawing on input from a number of leading characters from both the conservation world and economics. The recommendations are varied, drawing on the contributors respective backgrounds and experience. One observation is certainly without doubt:
"There is no one best rhino conservation strategy that works in all countries."
If you're interested in helping with Rhino conservation then get in touch with our friends at - If you'd like to safely encounter a Rhino in Wilderness, get in touch with us.

You can also find an interview with Dr. Player (PDF) in the Travel Africa Magazine archive where he talks about Operation Rhino amongst other things.

Wilderness Medicine

Wilderness Medical SocietyWe've talked briefly about Wilderness Medicine previously in the context of the International Mountain Day - And we specifically mentioned the Wilderness Medical Society's Annual Meeting . If you're a first-aider, medic or doctor and you want a professional viewpoint then you can follow one blog report here - Wilderness Medicine and Global Health - here's a brief preview:

"Auerbach is giving the opening speech focusing on the development of wilderness medicine over the past twenty years as well as the areas of medicine this specialty combines, such as mountain medicine, disaster medicine, rescue and survival, travel medicine, human complications from animals, insects and plants, and including many other sub-specialties"
We hope there'll be more posts to come.

Here's another take, from the US based Outside Magazine blog - The first two stories are up:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

How to really make a difference

Centre for Human EcologyHere's a question:

"Everyone seems to be going green these days – politicians, celebrities, ordinary people. But what about people who want to go beyond small lifestyle changes and learn how to really make a difference?"
One answer, and a good one we think, can be found in this article (originally from The Scotsman) about the Centre for Human Ecology.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Human footprint and the trail less travelled

Illustration from Science as reported by National Geographic - Click to see full size and full storyWe previously talked about an article in Science covering research by The Nature Conservancy on how much true wilderness there really is left in the world...

Here's a brief update with a great visual illustrating the shipping lanes and road networks of the world. If you click on the image you'll be able to see a bigger version on the National Geographic website - who also have further coverage of the human footprint in their archive:

The Amazon, Sahara, Southern Saudi Arabia, Siberia, Eastern China and the middle of Australia appear to be the only places resistant to the human footprint on a large scale... Most of those areas are deserts. One of our favourite efforts in this field is that of our friends at Bush Heritage Australia. If you're in the UK but would like to help them, get in touch with our office.

We also have some great reading material on deserts around the world - amongst others by Sir Wilfred Thesiger, our late patron.

The odd one out from list above is of course the Amazon which is everything but dry - and for the first time ever, the World Wilderness Congress will convene in South America and we expect an inreased focus on this great forest.
"The WWC is the longest running public international environmental forum. It is a conservation project that creates coalitions, establishes timelines, sets objectives and achieves practical outcomes. Established in 1977, it has convened on eight occasions in 30 years to review progress, debate issues, announce results and celebrate the importance and vitality of wild nature." - More on Wild's pages about the WWC
Last but not least it shouldn't be forgotten that our sister organisation in South Africa, is holding the fort (or the boundary rather) in a number of areas, most famous of which is the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve. And if you'd like to take walk on a trail less travelled ... Then read more about our minimum impact wilderness experiences.

Lewis Windfarm development threatens Golden Eagles

BBC News reports that the proposed wind farm development being considered by the Island of Lewis Council may pose a serious threat to Golden eagle numbers. An environmental statement produced by the wind farm developer Scottish and Southern Energy (SEE) reports that three birds could be killed a year. The Golden eagle is detailed on the Amber List of birds of conservation concern and is granted the highest level of protection under UK law. There are estimated to be sixty breeding pairs of Golden Eagle on Lewis.

Campaigners opposed to the wind farm development have also raised concern about the potential of peat slides occurring in the area where the wind turbines would be erected.

"The eagle kill is pretty horific, as is the threat of peat slide," said Catriona Campbell of anti-windfarm group Moorland Without Turbines.

The RSPB have also commented on the danger - not only to the Golden eagle but also to sea eagles in the area.

To read the full article visit BBC News Online :

You may also be interested in the following links:

The Wilderness Foundation UK will continue to raise awareness of the potential threat posed by wind farm developments created in areas of wilderness, wild land and where damage would be caused to important wildlife habitats.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Speaking of Wilderness

We welcome enquiries for speaking engagements on the subject of Wilderness.

Jo Roberts, our director, is a seasoned speaker and debater, whether radio or conference keynote, at local or international level.

Hiker, backpacker, author and broadcaster ...and Wilderness Foundation Trustee, Cameron McNeish, also undertakes such engagements. Here are two of his Wilderness dates for your diary:

Saturday Sept 29: Wild Scotland - A Spirit of Place; Arran Walking Festival, Isle of Arran
Tuesday Oct 2: Wild Scotland - A Spirit of Place; Inverness Book Festival, Eden Court Theatre, Inverness

You can also read The Wilderness World of Cameron McNeish (and find more talk dates + book him directly for your own event) - RSS feed here (if you're new to RSS feeds, watch this superb Common Craft video explaining RSS in Plain English - Then head over and give Google Reader a go and don't forget to add our feed too.

These are just two of the many great speakers we have on hand - Get in touch with our office if you need a passionate Wilderness speaker and we'll find the right person for your audience.

A few Wilderness Resources for Academics

In addition to reading the International Journal of Wilderness - which:

"...links wilderness professionals, scientists, educators, environmentalists, and interested citizens worldwide with a forum for reporting and discussing wilderness ideas and events; inspirational ideas; planning, management, and allocation strategies; education; research and policy aspects of wilderness stewardship."
Select articles available courtesy of the Wilderness Task Force including:
You may also want to check out the Wilderness Research page (US focused) compiled by the Wilderness Institute at The University of Montana's College of Forestry and Conservation, the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center, and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute.

They have a handy index of Graduate Research related to Wilderness and here are some highlights of articles that can be found on just one subject close to our hearts:
The search stretches much further - there are articles about Wilderness in Fine Arts, Folklore, Environmental Sciences, Anthropology, Archaeology, Biology and Botany. You name it.

Here in the UK we are working closely with the University of Essex, as regular readers will know. - You can still watch Jo Peacock (as more than a thousand people have done already) the lead researcher on the project talk about the conclusions reached so far:
- Get out into wilderness and boost your self esteem!: On YouTube / TeacherTube.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Ride Earth : Belgium and Beyond

A news update from Tom and Andy, the Ride Earth team navigating the globe on mountain bikes for the journey of a lifetime and to raise money for WFUK:

We quit our jobs. We sold our clothes, posessions, computers and stereos. We shaved our heads, said goodbye to friends and families, got on our bikes and cycled off one Sunday afternoon with the mother of all hangovers.

We left everything we take for granted behind in pursuit of some endless quest for intrigue and adventure, some kind of idealistic mission to find meaning in the world. Now, 2 weeks after we left, how does reality stand up to the idea we spent so long preparing for?

To find out the answer to Tom's question read their full blog entry here.

Tom, Andy (and Mark who is currently riding with them) have taken on a huge challenge - they are aiming to raise £10,000 for the Wilderness Foundation UK. A couple of weeks into their challenge they have reached 1% of their target. Please give them and WFUK a big boost by sponsoring them on their journey - they have taken on the greatest Wilderness Trail of them all.

Sponsor Ride Earth online safely and securely at: or alternatively send a cheque or postal order made payable to "Wilderness Foundation UK" to:

Ride Earth
The Wilderness Foundation UK
47-49 Main Road

Thank you.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Alec Forss' latest article on Wilderness just out on 'The Local':

"Snowbound and frigidly cold for most of the year, the brief arrival of summer transforms the mountains of Northern Sweden into a trekker’s paradise. Overlooked by most foreign tourists in favour of mountain playgrounds further south, such as the Alps, this isolated corner of Europe offers a wilderness experience par excellence."
Read the full article here:

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Trustee speaks out on controversial windfarm development

Mountaineer, broadcaster and Wilderness Foundation UK Trustee Cameron McNeish has spoken out against the controversial wind farm proposal being considered for the Glencanisp and Drumrunie Estates in the picturesque Sutherland and Wester Ross regions of Scotland.

Quoted in The Scotsman on Tuesday 3rd July, Cameron said:

"[This windfarm proposal] could set a precedent and result in the finest part of Britain being spoiled and could harm tourism in the area"
The proposed development has caused controversy, not least because the area of land where it would be located (which includes the Suilven, Canisp, Cul Mor and Cul Beag mountains) was acquired last year by The Assynt Foundation, with the Scottish Land Fund contributing £1.6 million to the purchase and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise awarded £605,000. The community raised £15,000 with the John Muir Trust, a registered Scottish charity dedicated to protecting wild land contributed an initial £50,000 with a further £15,000 per year being made available for the next five years to manage the land.

The John Muir Trust representative on the board of the Assynt Foundation has withdrawn for a year while the proposal is being considered, thus giving the Trust the ability to speak freely on the subject.

The local community is divided on the development, with some sighting projected employment and income from power generation as being a means to revitalise the area, however others feel that the previously unspoilt scenery would be ruined by the erection of between one and six wind turbines.

The fate of the development is to be decided by a secret ballot.

The Wilderness Foundation UK continues to highlight the urgent need to reassess the development of onshore windfarms as a renewable source of energy.

We will bring you further news on this development as it happens.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Umzi receives further recognition from Eastern Cape Government

We just heard from our colleagues in South Africa that their Umzi project has once again been recognised for the impact it has. The Eastern Cape Premier has allocated funding for more places,
still - As reported in The Port Elizabeth Herald:

"The main sponsorship comes from overseas donors..." (Full story)
That's why you hear us talking about this inspiring project so much (and why we continually ask for your support). But how about the students who benefit? What do they say? Here are a few words from Freddie:

Learn more here: - and if you'd like to support then you can still sponsor Richard, our indefatigable office manager and Chris Eppinger, long-time friend to the Foundation and Kilimanjaro veteran: They completed the Walk for Life recently and their fundraising page is still up and running - Read more here about that and also other Umzi reporting from us.

Monday, July 02, 2007

British London 10k Run

Jo and Richard made their way into the heart of London yesterday (Sunday) to cheer on the WF-UK team taking part in this year's British London 10k Run. Undeterred by the rain, they set up their pitch on Westminster Bridge, proudly holding aloft the WF-UK banner and calling out encouragement to the 20,000 people who ran past them during the event.

Congratulations and thanks to Eddie, Maureen, Jamie and Helen who ran for the Foundation, setting an excellent pace and a time to be challenged by the team we enter next year.

Funds raised by the WF-UK team will be directed towards our social programme, Turn Around - the pilot of which is being run in Essex this year. This wilderness-based project will help young people who are seeking to make a positive change in their lives, by undertaking new challenges, learning new skills and making a difference to themselves and the world around them.

For further information about Turn Around contact Eddie Charles at the Foundation or visit our website:

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Is there any Wilderness left?

The Nature ConservancyThis just in from Nature Conservancy:

Is there any wilderness left? A new article in SCIENCE magazine co-authored by The Nature Conservancy's chief scientist says not really — and that conservation's task is no longer to "preserve the wild, but to domesticate nature more wisely." - Full interview with Peter Kareiva here.
They certainly pull on some strong facts (which we have taken the liberty of borrowing in order to really push the point):
  • There's nearly six times as much water held in storage (e.g., behind dams) as there is in free-flowing rivers.
  • About 50 percent of the world's surface area has been converted to grazing land or cultivated crops.
  • And only 17 percent of the world's land area in 1995 was untouched by the direct influence of humans (such as agriculture, roads or even nighttime lights
We at the Wilderness Foundation have shared this concern since our inception more than thirty years ago.

- Explorers and writers, such as the Foundation’s founder Sir Laurens van der Post and its late patron, Sir Wilfrid Thesiger, often wrote of the ancient link between humanity and nature, and how within our fast moving cultures of today, much of this link has been forgotten.

We believe that by visiting the unspoiled places where nature has been allowed to exist since time began, this connection is rekindled.

We realise this alone is not enough - action must be taken - we welcome the research laid out in the paper and the urgent debate it'll hopefully lead to.

If you'd like to rekindle your connection - come on trail with us - and if you'd like to get involved with the latter, attend the next World Wilderness Congress or get in touch with us. Also, check out the work of the IUCN Wilderness Task Force (co-ordinated by our sister organisation Wild)

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