The new CEO of World Land Trust, Dr Catherine Barnard, explains her vision for the global charity and how Carbon Balanced Paper helps to achieve that vision.

“I want people to say, ‘Yes, World Land Trust is an organisation that can help me make a difference’”

What attracted you to the position of World Land Trust CEO?

I’ve spent my career working in nature and natural resource management, mainly in the Tropics. So I’ve spent most of the last 25 years doing very similar things to the work that World Land Trust does, working to protect areas of land. I’ve helped to create and manage formal government protected areas, but the majority of my work has involved working with local organisations and communities, helping them to become more effective stewards of their land.

What are the key strengths of World Land Trust?

World Land Trust not only conserves land and the wildlife that live on it, we use that land to join other areas to make it sustainable for larger species to live in. In many cases this also helps to provide income for local people, helping them to develop income-generating activities such as growing crops such as coffee or cocoa, and helping them access clean, fresh water through the environment.

What effect does this work have on the climate?

It has a very positive effect. Tropical forests and tropical forests on peatland store vast amounts of carbon. So deforestation and draining of peatlands results in vast amounts of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, exacerbating the climate crisis. So by conserving these natural habitats, we’re helping to address the climate crisis, as well as the biodiversity crisis.

What are your main priorities as CEO?

What we do isn’t going to change as it works, but the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis have never been more urgent, so we need to do more to raise awareness of these and the solutions. I want to continue to raise the profile of the Trust, being an organisation that’s a catalyst, a bridge between people who want to do something but don’t know how to do it. Well, there is something that everyone can do. By making the contribution of buying Carbon Balanced Paper or off-setting your flights or making a regular donation to World Land Trust, we can have collective impact. I want to make us the organisation of choice for people who want to do something, who want to feel that they can make a difference. I want them to say, ‘Yes, World Land Trust is an organisation that can help me make a difference.’

What’s your opinion on the environmental impact of paper?

I’ve long held the position that wood is good and a lot of the natural resources that we use are better than synthetic versions. Materials such as paper are far more sustainable than plastic, and using paper bags and paper packaging is a positive step because it can be sustainable. The challenge is making sure that the paper coming in is grown responsibly and sustainably, and we bear in mind the full carbon cost of the growth, harvesting and processing, as well as what happens afterwards. Making sure that we move towards a more circular economy of paper production and use is vital, and something the paper industry needs to be a leader in.

What do you personally want to get out of your role?

My satisfaction comes from having a positive impact on the ground. I’ve been fortunate to travel all over the world, working in many countries, and the thing that always motivates me is when I see the impact this sort of work has. You can be in a completely man-made landscape that’s hot and dry, but then step into a natural forest and instantly the temperature drops. There’s the thrum of life all around you and a sense of vitality, and it’s a far more comfortable experience.

I get an immense amount of personal satisfaction from seeing that natural world surviving, but I also get enormous satisfaction from seeing how our work can benefit people. So what I want to get out of this job is to make the organisation thrive and be that ‘go-to’ organisation for people who want to do something about the climate and biodiversity crises, so that we can do more of this work, to have more impact, and make a real difference to improve our world.

Article written by Sam Upton

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