An HSBC employee from Hatch End in Middlesex is heading to Brazil to take part in two weeks of wildlife conservation. Her expedition is part of Investing in Nature, an £11 million, five-year eco-partnership between HSBC and environmental NGO, Earthwatch Institute (Europe).
Traci MacDonald, an HSBC Training Designer will leave her desk in St Albans to travel to the Cananéia Estuary, one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world. Here she will help Earthwatch scientists to establish a monitoring programme that will guide local tourism development before it impacts too heavily upon the estuary's biodiversity.
As part of an integrated conservation and research programme, Traci will work both from a boat and along the shore. She will count dolphins, record their behaviour, take photographs for individual identification, record dolphin-boat interactions and collect environmental data.
On the shore, Traci will survey one of three local beaches for stranded marine mammals, from which they will collect important biological information and samples for later analysis. The research that she supports in this tropical biodiversity hotspot will be used to assess the status of marine mammals in the estuary and to monitor their condition in future years. This data is critical to the development of sustainable tourism in the area and for the effective conservation of marine mammals.
Traci says, 'I am deeply concerned about the effect of tourism and pollution on marine life. As human beings, we are increasingly encroaching upon our natural environment, and we need to be more aware about what we are permanently destroying. I hope to learn a lot from this project and make a significant contribution to the conservation work underway in Brazil.'
Traci 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 says, '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, says, '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, 620 HSBC employees from over 40 countries have contributed 25 years of vital environmental research in projects around the world through the Earthwatch programme.