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Fight to save our piece of earth: World Earth Day

Media Release from WWF, 17 April 2003

Fight to save our piece of earth: World Earth Day 2003

22 April 2003 is World Earth Day. There has never been a more critical time to focus on the state of our planet, according to WWF.

"Over the last 20 years more than 300 million hectares of tropical rain forests, an area larger than the size of India, have been cleared for plantations, agriculture, pasture, mining and urban development. Here in New Zealand most of our native forests are gone - it's estimated that only 23% now cover our land area. We need to act urgently to reverse the degradation of our environment and conserve biological diversity", says WWF Chief Executive, Jo Breese.

"At a local level, every day WWF supports grassroots action in local communities through the Habitat Protection Fund on behalf of The Tindall Foundation. Since February 2000, WWF has disbursed over half a million dollars to community restoration projects across the country", says Jo Breese.

The Habitat Protection Fund now has a total of 68 projects. These projects are diverse, and include everything from forest re-growth and species protection to wetland and estuary restoration.

"WWF and The Tindall Foundation are both supporting community actions. We work with WWF because it works innovatively, creating exciting and collaborative ways to protect New Zealand's environment", says Stephen Tindall, The Tindall Foundation.

Some of the current Habitat Protection Fund projects include:

- The Kauri 2000 Charitable Trust is planting Kauri seeds in the Coromandel to help recreate the magnificent Kauri forests of the Coromandel Peninsula.

- The Otipua Wetland Restoration group is working to restore wetlands of Otipua in Canterbury. Sadly, some 95% of Canterbury's historic wetlands have been lost.

- The NZ Kiwi Foundation is working with private land owners in the Bay of Islands to protect kiwis. All of the land they manage has other endangered and threatened species present including the brown teal and the weka.

"One key element for all our Habitat Protection Fund projects is to foster communities and individuals to take action to look after and restore our local ecosystem," says WWF Conservation Director, Chris Howe.

WWF strongly supports World Earth Day and hopes everyone can do more to save our planet. Visit www.wwf.org.nz to find out more about the Habitat Protection Fund and how to take action.

For further information contact: Angela Heck, Communications Manager, WWF New Zealand Tel: (04) 499-2930 Fax: (04) 499-2954 angela.heck@wwf.org.nz

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