The Bank of America Charitable Foundation and The Nature Conservancy today announced a partnership with the Chinese government and local communities to launch a pilot project for a new approach to land management and conservation in China. Bank of America is providing $1 million USD in seed funding to support development of a “Land Trust Reserve” model of conservation whereby qualified entities can hold long-term contracts to manage forests for the benefit of nature and local communities.
The bank will provide an additional $1 million USD to support innovative forest conservation and carbon pricing demonstration projects in Brazil and Indonesia, building on a 20-year relationship between Bank of America Merrill Lynch and The Nature Conservancy.
Forest destruction produces as much as 15 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions — more than all planes, trains and automobiles combined. Currently, countries have few economic incentives to preserve forests. Addressing climate change will require developing financial incentives to protect existing forests and finding sustainable development activities that help mitigate carbon emissions.
Support from Bank of America Merrill Lynch to further forest conservation and help drive environmentally sustainable economic development opportunities is part of the company’s 10-year, $20 billion environmental business initiative to address climate change through lending, investing, products and services, philanthropy and its own operations.
"China's vision in improving and enhancing its nature reserves is to be commended, and the opportunity to create best practices in this area of conservation is exciting," said Brian J. Brille, president of Bank of America Merrill Lynch Asia Pacific. "Bank of America Merrill Lynch is delighted to be working with The Nature Conservancy and the Sichuan Government to launch a strategy that will protect China's forests, increase ongoing conservation efforts and create a new way for society to support the government’s conservation vision."
Although the Chinese government has created an impressive network of nearly 2,500 nature reserves, some critically important forest corridors — including habitat for the giant panda — often fall outside these protected areas. These same unprotected forests are also often a vital source of economic development and local livelihoods.
Recent changes to forest tenure policy in China provide an opportunity to test a new type of conservation model, one that expands protection for ecologically important forests around existing nature reserves while allowing for sustainable local development.
“The Conservancy has had extensive experience and success with private land conservation in the United States, but involving committed Chinese citizens and companies in supporting the Chinese government’s vision for conservation in China is unprecedented,” Deputy Regional Director for North Asia Charles Bedford says. “This is an historic opportunity to test an entirely new way of achieving conservation that bolsters China’s existing protected areas and spurs private sector involvement in conservation of China’s natural heritage.”
The Conservancy will work with local Chinese partners to explore the possibility of creating Land Trust Reserves that will manage forests in Sichuan Province adjacent to existing nature reserves in cooperation with local governments. If successful, these Land Trust Reserves will:
Jiang Chu, deputy department director at the Sichuan Forestry Department, explains government enthusiasm for the project. “We are transferring the focus of China’s nature reserves from increasing their number to improving their effectiveness. For example, nature reserves already cover almost 18 percent of Sichuan province, one of the highest rates of coverage in the country. But many of these reserves face funding shortages, lack proper management and ecological compensation mechanisms, and have limited development benefits for communities in and around the reserves. We believe the Sichuan Land Trust Reserves project, in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy, will be a worthwhile experiment to seek ways to involve more areas of society in conservation, incorporating progressive management and improved funding sources for conservation. We welcome this kind of project in Sichuan and hope to replicate this success throughout China.”
About Bank of America Corporate Philanthropy
Building on a long-standing tradition of investing in the communities it serves, last year Bank of America embarked on a new, 10-year goal to donate $2 billion to nonprofit organizations engaged in improving the health and vitality of their neighborhoods. Funded by Bank of America, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation gave more than $200 million in 2009, making the bank one of the largest corporate cash donors in the United States. Bank of America approaches investing through a national strategy under which it works with local leaders to identify and meet the most pressing needs of individual communities. Reaffirming a commitment to develop and sustain a culture of service, the bank announced the “Million Hour Challenge,” a pledge by the company’s associates around the world to donate 1 million volunteer hours by the end of 2010. In 2009, bank associate volunteers contributed more than 800,000 hours to enhance the quality of life in their communities nationwide. For more information about Bank of America Corporate Philanthropy, please visit www.bankofamerica.com/foundation. For more information on the bank’s 10-year, $20 billion environmental business initiative, please visit http://www.bankofamerica.com/environment.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy in China
The Nature Conservancy
Bank of America
Bank of America Merrill Lynch