WWF-Canada Blog:

Green team wins a trip to the Brazilian Rainforest

By Andrea Kean

Andrea Kean, Janine Brophy and Stephen King made up the winning team from the company’s Johnson office in St. John, NL. Their innovative idea won them a trip to the Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil, joining RSA executives and WWF scientists in the experience of a lifetime. Andrea Kean shares a personal blog of her trip and an account of the effects of deforestation and climate change on one of the most unique biodiversity regions in the world.

Your overall impressions
The city of Rio de Janeiro was spectacular. It was amazing that one small geographical space included the metropolis of Rio, the Tijuca rainforest, the large Rodrigo de Freitas freshwater lagoon, and bordered the ocean as well. In comparison to other areas, the environmental challenges faced in this region are massive. Not only does it contain large numbers of endemic flora and fauna species, but striking a balance between all these ecosystems in such a small space is daunting. The strides biologists, environmentalists, and scientists have made over the last decade or two is spectacular. This area is a model of how such diversity can coexist, when managed correctly. If it can be accomplished there, it can certainly be accomplished in our hometowns, our regions, and our countries. It truly made us want to work harder to achieve similar benefits in our local communities.

What stood out
Realizing that the majority of environmental challenges stem from the same issue regardless of where you are in the world. The struggle of maintaining a balance of capitalism and the environment is the foundation of most of the globe’s environmental difficulties and Brazil is no exception. Due to Brazil’s rich natural resources and exponentially growing economy, the Atlantic Rainforest has decreased in size by over 85% over the last few decades with the largest decline commencing in the 1980’s. This rainforest is home to approximately 20,500 species, over half of which are endemic. It is crucial to preserve what is left of this forest and continue to try and achieve more of a balance between capitalism and the environment.

We had the opportunity to discuss similar struggles of balance closer to home in Newfoundland, Canada with Glauco Kimura, a scientist from WWF Brazil. Although the two locations are 7,893 km apart, it was very enlightening to see the similarities between the two sets of environmental challenges.

What lessons you’ll take back
A concept that was reinforced for us while in Brazil was interconnectivity. For example, saving one Golden Lion Tamarin monkey means you must save eight more for a complete pack, the food they eat, and the habitat they live in. To translate, this means rebuilding the Atlantic rainforest in which they live, resulting in saving thousands of additional species and a large amount of the globe’s oxygen supply. In other words, the little things really can make a difference – we can all be more conscious of what we buy, what we use, and what we throw out.

Photo credit: ©RSA

Why the trip was important
Travelling to the rainforest and seeing first-hand the impacts of climate change and human influence affected us more than any TV commercial, YouTube video, or news article ever could. It really hit home how important the Atlantic Rainforest, and Brazil, is to the global economy. The Brazilian Rainforest supplies 20%, or 1/5th, of the world’s oxygen, and Brazil has the second largest number of endemic species of any country in the world.  We are now ambassadors for protecting this unique area, and will share our knowledge with family, friends, and co-workers. For a visual diary of our trip, click here. Furthermore, I believe that the trip was an important motivator for other RSA staff to be more environmentally conscious, and to come up with more green ideas that can be implemented in the workplace.

Inspired by this story and looking for ways to make a difference? Check out WWF’s Living Planet @ Work program for employee engagement ideas and tips to make your office more sustainable. Visit atwork.wwf.ca