Birmingham Airport backs Brazilian rainforest project

7.3.2008     (Cheap Flights)

A corner of a Brazilian rainforest will be forever Birmingham after the city
airport invested £20,000 * to protect 180 acres of endangered forest.

Birmingham International Airport has spent the money to both protect the trees and lock away nearly 50,000 tonnes
of CO2, equivalent to that produced by the airport’s buildings over  2 years. [no mention of the carbon produced by the planes using the airport, or even its

As part of the project, money will also be spent on classroom equipment, solar
powered internet and a boat for a school in the heart of the Amazon called Escola
Estadual, which serves communities in a 10-mile radius in the state of Mato Grosso.

John Morris, the airport’s head of corporate and community affairs, said: [sic]  “Overall, aviation contributes  2% of the world’s CO2, however it is committed
to finding ways to mitigate its operations.  **   Birmingham Airport is totally
dedicated to this and today’s launch is one of the many ways we are acting on
reducing our global impact whilst helping communities. We’re proud of this joint
partnership and hope it continues to grow from strength to strength.”   ***

The airport has worked alongside Cool Earth, a charity that protects endangered rainforest from deforestation, to secure
an area called Democracia, which lies on the northerly bank of the Rio Madeira
or “Wood River” and is right at the frontier of destruction.

Loggers began cutting timber in the region in 2005, but since Cool Earth secured
the forest the area will be protected for at least the next 25 years, enabling
the local community to harvest produce from it for income and enjoy free access
to 30,000 acres.

And to ensure people in the Birmingham area see how the initiative works it was
launched at Small Heath School and Sixth Form College where students have been
learning about all things Brazilian, including studies in culture, environment,
language and cuisine.

Co-founder of Cool Earth, Frank Field MP, said: “Through our charity, sponsors
can secure land that would otherwise be sold to loggers and ranchers, pricing
deforestation out of the market.

“We put donations into a local trust, and protect the forests around the clock
to keep the carbon where it belongs, ensuring that rainforest communities take
the lead in conservation and get the full benefit of better incomes and security
that standing forest provides. Sponsorship also helps to fund community health
and education services.”



However – though we welcome the airport contributing funds to a worthwhile forest project  –
this story comes with a Greenwash warning:

Back of an envelope calculations – very approximately:

*   Birmingham Airport apparently made     £19.5 million   profit after tax,   2005/6
according to

So the £20,000 of   £19.5 million is   all of   0.103%.


**     About 1 million tonnes  CO2  was emitted annually  from flights departing Birmingham
in 2005 (FoE info).   This is expected to rise to 3 million tonnes in 2030 (DfT
figures Nov 2007).
DfT   UK air passenger demand and CO2 forecasts –  Nov 2007
Therefore, the supposed saving (saving only being made by not cutting the forest
down – no extra carbon is actually being stored) of 50,000 is only   5% of the million tonnes produced by planes using the airport each year.


***   There were around 120,000 ATMs from Birmingham in 2006 ( = 60,000 return

Assuming one return flight UK to Chicago emits around 230 tonnes of CO2, (see
Trans-Atlantic flight arrives in London with just FIVE passengers on board   ) – the saving of CO2 (50,000 tonnes  suggested) is approximately the same as that
emitted by  around 800   European return flights of 1,000 miles each way (of the
order of Rome return).       Which  shows the carbon saved by this forest scheme to
be  a bit over 1% of the total flights from Birmingham per year.