NEW DELHI: The Body Shop today announced its latest CSR initiative for the Indian market, of commencing its Bio-Bridge project in Garo Hills, Meghalaya, India. It has pledged to help protect the endangered Indian Elephant and Western Hoolock Gibbon by constructing the Bio-Bridge with every transaction during a three months long campaign commencing September 2017.
This Bio Bridge will protect habitat for some of the world’s most threatened species, by planting one square metre of habitat against every transaction at the brand in India.
Biodiversity loss is one of the earth’s biggest challenges. Bio-Bridges aim to address the problem of habitat fragmentation by protecting and regenerating corridors between healthy forest, linking isolated and endangered animals and plant species. This allows animals to travel more widely in search of mates and helps them thrive.
The India Bio-Bridges programme is part of The Body Shop’s existing commitment to protect and regenerate 75 million square metres of habitat as part of its Enrich Not Exploit™ Commitment, launched last year.
Through this programme to date, The Body Shop has protected more than 17.2 million square metres of habitat in Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. The programme has been running since June 2016 and The Body Shop expects to see results from the ongoing projects soon.
Partnering with World Land Trust (WLT) and its local partner Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), The Body Shop will build a Bio-Bridge in the Garo Hills district of Meghalaya state in India, protecting and regenerating a corridor of land for endangered animals to pass through safely. Garo Hills is one of the wettest regions in the world, with more than 11 metres of rainfall a year in some areas; the heavy rainfall is a major factor contributing to the exceptional biodiversity of the region.
Through long-term research programmes, WTI have gained a deep understanding of the movements of endangered elephants which use Garo Hills as a corridor, and the threats to their habitats. WTI is working with local communities to encourage them to designate the area as Village Reserve Forest (VRF) and help create alternative economic opportunities to jhumming (a traditional form of slash and burn farming), which is the biggest threat to the elephant corridors.
The new Bio-Bridges project aims to protect two key endangered species:
Indian Elephant: The Indian Elephant is one of three subspecies of the Asian Elephant and native to mainland Asia. It is listed by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Endangered and their population has declined by at least 50% over the last 70 years. In India, elephants are primarily threatened by burgeoning human population and associated threats from habitat loss caused by urban development and unsustainable farming practices.
Western Hoolock Gibbon: Numbers of Western Hoolock Gibbons have halved over the last 40 years. Restricted to forested patches in several of India’s north-eastern states, there are now thought to be as few as 2,600 surviving as a result of hunting and habitat loss.
The Body Shop’s customers around the world can help save these iconic species by shopping in-store or online during the campaign. Every purchase throughout the campaign will protect and regenerate one square metre of forest, crucial for the survival of elephants and other threatened species. The Body Shop globally aims to raise £140,000 for this project.
Present at the event, Jacqueline Fernandez, Brand Ambassador of The Body Shop India shared, “Bio-Bridge perfectly demonstrates how The Body Shop is committed to making a positive long-term impact in the community where it operates. It’s very encouraging to see a beauty brand taking a lead in wildlife conservation and community development. I extend my full support towards the Bio Bridges Project and am delighted to be associated with such a socially responsible brand. I request you all to join hands with The Body Shop and help protect these endangered species.”
Commenting on the initiative at the event, Shriti Malhotra, COO, The Body Shop India said, “We carry forward our founder Anita Roddick’s legacy of giving back to society especially to the local environment and communities. We are very happy that Garo Hills has been selected as one of the project locations for The Body Shop international Bio-Bridge programme.”
“Having a project in India is a great platform not only to benefit the Garo Hills Biodiversity but also to raise consumer awareness about the rich biodiversity of the area and encourage them to play their part in the conservation efforts. It gives us immense pleasure to be associated with WTI for this project and they have helped us bring this initiative to life.”, she added.
“Every consumer who shops in-stores and online from today till End November will contribute to the securing of 1.8 mn sq meters of Forest corridor and protection of wildlife in Garo Hills. We look forward to working on long term benefit for the region as well. We welcome everyone’s support in making the Bio-Bridge project a success.”, she further added.
Speaking on the initiative, Sunil Kyarong, Joint Director and Head-Wild Lands, Wild Life Trust of India says, “The Garo Green Spine is critical in North East India supporting about a 1000 elephants connecting two treasure houses of biodiversity – the Nokrek and the Balphakram National Park. The Garo Community, with our support, takes it upon themselves to stitch together this landscape by demonstrating the finest example of community-led and community-owned conservation initiatives.”
“I am confident that the Biobridges campaign of the Body Shop will go a long way in helping WTI and WLT to protect the Canopies, Corridors and Catchments of Garo Green Spine for enhancing the survival prospects of wildlife in the region and also to commend and celebrate the efforts of the local communities who are at the forefront of conservation in the region”., he added.
Speaking on the campaign Christopher Davis, International Director of Corporate Responsibility at The Body Shop says, “We have already seen the huge potential that Bio-Bridges has to offer as a life-line for wildlife depending on some of the planet’s most biodiverse but threatened habitats. We are delighted to be launching our new project in India which engages with local communities in Garo Hills. Here we have a fantastic opportunity to permanently safeguard elephant corridors and ensure the long-term survival of the Indian Elephant and Western Hoolock Gibbon, as well as the huge number of other species that call this area home”.
The Body Shop also recently launched its new corporate philanthropy initiative, World Bio-Bridges Mission (Re-wilding the World), a fund which aims to raise over £2million to create a further ten Bio-Bridges globally by 2020.