An HSBC employee from Waltham Cross is setting off for two weeks of wildlife conservation in Cameroon. Her expedition is part of Investing in Nature, an £11 million, five-year eco-partnership between HSBC and environmental NGO, Earthwatch Institute (Europe).
Gillian Kirk, an HSBC Analyst Programmer, will be leaving her desk in London to join Earthwatch scientists who are working to conserve the rainforests of Western Cameroon. Gillian will help to inventory the regions rare and endemic plants in an effort to manage the remaining forest refuges.
During the expedition, Gillian will stay in a local research station and camp out under the stars, surrounded by the sounds of forest birds and primates. Working as part of an integrated research and conservation project, she will hunt out forest treasures and learn to prepare plant specimens and catalogue findings. Her invaluable work in the rainforest will help to prioritise endangered species in the race against extinction.
Gillian said, ‘I love the outdoors so working in the rainforest will be an amazing experience for me. The expedition will hold many exciting challenges and I look forward to learning more about botany and conservation while working with a team of experts.'
Gillian is just one of 500 HSBC Environmental Fellows who will work on Earthwatch conservation projects in 2004, ranging from Spanish dolphins to zebras in Kenya. By 2006, 2,000 HSBC employees will have contributed the equivalent of a century of environmental research and 200 talented scientists will have received valuable training. The HSBC fellows will also be eligible for a grant of up to £400 to initiate a local environmental project on their return home.
The five-year Investing in Nature partnership also involves Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), and WWF, and is the largest-ever single donation to the environmental charities. In addition to Earthwatch's contribution, Investing in Nature will clean up three of the world's major rivers, benefiting 50 million people who depend upon them, and help save 20,000 rare plant species from extinction.
Richard Spence, HSBC General Manager, Southern Division, said: "Investing in Nature is well on the way to meeting its five year goals, and the partnership has really raised the level of environmental awareness amongst all levels of staff. With Earthwatch, HSBC employees not only contribute to vital conservation work around the world, but share their new-found knowledge with colleagues, family and friends on their return through the local environmental projects they create."
Frank Vorhies, CEO of Earthwatch, said, "Investing in Nature is a great example of how businesses and NGOs can work successfully together. We are able to link the network of HSBC employees worldwide with the environmental knowledge available from Earthwatch scientists to raise awareness and understanding of environmental issues on a global and local level."
"Our work with HSBC, allows us to fulfil our mission by engaging their employees in scientific research projects and at the same time we are all able to further support the efforts of HSBC in promoting a sustainable environment."
To date, 500 HSBC employees from over 40 countries have contributed 25 years of vital environmental research in projects around the world through the Earthwatch programme.
Photo credit: ©Mark Howson/EWE