Greenwashing has no place at Rainforest Rescue – or anywhere

 In Business Partners, News
Planting trees at NightWings to restore the Daintree

Planting trees at NightWings to restore the Daintree – photo Marty Stringer

Businesses can be a powerful proponent for change. And with the right ethos and commitment to doing ‘good’, businesses may not only encourage, but actually change consumer behaviour towards more environmentally-friendly actions. Business can sustainably shift and shake up industries for the good. Business, small, medium or large – all have an opportunity to do good. In fact, a lot of good – for Nature.

In fact, we’re proud of the businesses that are part of our Partners for Protection program. They are either working to transform their industry or they are bringing innovation for nature through their production or supply chain – or they are just committed to “giving back” and contribute to the rainforests through us. I deeply appreciate businesses that take a position for Nature. Bravo!

In a “past life” working for Rainforest Action Network, an advocacy organisation that called out bad corporate actors that harmed the Earth, I saw firsthand how businesses – particularly large corporations – would stoop to remarkable lows to protect profits over people and planet. From industry associations formed for no other purpose than to provide a green-screen for otherwise bad environmental actors to communities destroyed for shareholder profits and legal suits that will never end – all aimed at protecting the “integrity” of the corporation and their profits…and I’ve seen companies go to great lengths to create images that say “we care about nature and the environment” when in fact nothing could be further from the truth – it was just part of the marketing budget, not their strategic plan or their true intentions. I could tell you stories…but let it suffice that businesses sometimes use environmental organisations to “green” their image and draw attention away from bad environmental actions that they undertake for profit. (Here’s a great post from our friends at OneMillionWomen about this very practise.)

Eight years ago, Rainforest Rescue’s Partners for Protection Program started with a handful of well-intentioned businesses and now has grown to over 110 of these such organisations. Our ‘Rainforest Rescue Partners’ are an army of change. They bring in precious funding for Rainforest Rescue so that we, the humans behind this name, can get on with our urgent work. Rescuing and restoring unprotected and damaged Daintree lowland property.

Not only do these partners give us funding to help us achieve our mission, they create awareness for the plight of the Daintree and all its wonderful flora and fauna – the rare, vulnerable, precious, endangered and threatened. They shed light on the fact that the Daintree lowlands is not fully protected from destruction, that there are approximately 170 properties that are still at risk; kilometres of wildlife habitat that can be destroyed, homes taken from these creatures, and some of Australia’s most remarkable flora–in a heartbeat.

That’s why our little team, of only two full-time, and five part-time staff, with over eighty volunteers annually, is driven to do what we do every day. Moving the conservation needle into the green, on a shoestring. At the time of writing, we are in the process of rescuing another unprotected property – thanks in large part to these very business partners. They are, in very simple terms, helping us do the right thing.

That’s also why when businesses do the wrong thing it needs to be discussed, especially when it involves Rainforest Rescue.

Clare and Simon Hawse, long time supporters of Rainforest Rescue and ardent environmentalists, reached out to let us know that we were being used to excuse some egregious actions – which are highlighted in this video.

We were dismayed to be leveraged in an article in the Cairns Post involving a property developer who assumed that his financial support for our work would excuse his company’s destructive actions against Nature. The actions of this company–which included the felling of beautiful Melaleuca trees that were hundreds of years old, and that provided habitat to local creatures like ring-tailed possums–are in no way something that we would ever support.

And to be called out as a vehicle for mitigating such actions is unconscionable.

We want to make this very clear: At no point were we aware that the funds from this business–which were made online–were linked to this awful activity. And would we have known, there is no way we would have accepted this donation.

That’s why, as an organisation, we have reversed the contribution to Rainforest Rescue by this property developer and will accept no contributions from them.

While we warmly embrace business doing the right thing, and actively promote those partnerships that do, we also strongly condemn those that don’t. We will not be used to legitimise the destruction of nature.

We will continue working day in and day out on our most pressing mission: Rescuing the unprotected Daintree lowlands and restoring damaged rainforest.

And we will continue working hand-in-hand with businesses, individual supporters and the philanthropic trusts and foundations that join with us to do the right thing, for Nature’s sake.

Not their bottom line.

Protect Rainforests Forever.

– Branden Barber | CEO | Rainforest Rescue


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Natalie Parma

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