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Celebrating 20 Years of WLT

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Sir David Attenborough at Bristol Zoo
Date and Time: 
16 April 2009
Bristol Zoo

Sir David Attenborough attended a special event, organised by World Land Trust (WLT) and held at Bristol Zoo on the 16th April, where he gave an inspiring talk explaining why he became a Patron of the Trust.

The evening, hosted by ex-BBC Natural History Unit producer and narrator, Barry Paine, was organised as part of the Trust's 20th Anniversary celebrations. As well as Sir David Attenborough's presentation, John Burton (WLT CEO) introduced a short series of clips from films recording the first 20 years of the WLT.

Sir David: Why I support the World Land Trust

Introducing his talk Barry Paine asked Sir David to tell us why he supported WLT. Sir David explained:

"It was through John Burton that I came to know the Trust, but my history with John goes back some 30 years to the Life on Earth days when, as part of the series, we were in Rwanda filming the Mountain Gorillas."

"When I'm asked why I support the World Land Trust I say that it can be summed up by 'four reasons'." These were the points that Sir David made, in summary:

  • "First, they have low overheads, keeping their administration to a bare minimum."
  • "Secondly, because overheads are low, most of your donation reaches the people it was intended for."
  • "Thirdly, WLT does not own the land - ownership is with the local partner organisations."
  • "Lastly, saving land: To achieve conservation you need to save the whole ecosystem, large enough to support the wealth of wildlife they support. This is what the WLT does with its project partners."

Sir David closed by saying,

"The Trust has been hugely successful over the past 20 years and we are all here today to celebrate the success. Of course there is still much left to be done but I am sure that the World Land Trust will go on to raise more funds and save more wildlife and their habitats in the years to come."

Read Sir David Attenborough's talk in full

BBC Natural History Unit and other WLT Supporters from the West Country

The World Land Trust has received enormous support from the West Country, not just from donors but also from the media, conservationists, academics and wildlife film-makers who promote wildlife causes and raise public awareness in the natural world. This special event, sponsored by accountants and financial advisors, Smith & Williamson, was an opportunity to thank supporters in the south-west and let them know how they have helped WLT purchase and save acres of vitally important wildlife habitats around the world.

Guests included long-stand WLT supporters from the south and west of England, and an impressive number of people who, over the years, have been active in the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol: Tony Soper, John Sparks, Richard Brock, all long-time friends and colleagues of Sir David Attenborough were just a few of those present. Jo Gipps, Director, and several senior staff of Bristol Zoo (who hosted the reception) also attended, as did Simon Stuart, Chairman of the Species Survival Commission of IUCN, Bruce Coleman a founder trustee of the WLT and Sophie Stafford, Editor of BBC Wildlife.

After the event

The event was a great success and special thanks go particularly to Sir David for coming to speak, and Barry Paine for doing such a magnificent job as MC. Thanks also to Bristol Zoo for donating the use of their rooms. Thanks also to Dan Freeman and Jane Krish for organising the event and Derek Kilkenny-Blake (of ARKive) for compiling the film clips (below).

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