Click to read: Q&A With the Expert: Cans for Corridors

Q&A With the Expert: Cans for Corridors

As the newest member of the Communications team at Durrell, I've spent the last couple of weeks getting to know the people and the projects that make Durrell so special.

When Sarah Nugent, the Outreach and Interpretation Officer, first told me about Cans for Corridors, she had a sparkle in her eye. This is her baby. Together with Head of Mammals, Dom Wormell, she has been collecting cans for more than 12 years.

The future of these wonderful tiny monkeys hangs in the balance, and we must do all we can to save them from extinction. We must make their plight known to as many as possible. The Cans for corridors campaign is a fantastic way of doing this, not only raising money to support restoration of habitat through planting trees, but to raise awareness with so many people.

The simple act of doing the right thing, and recycling a can makes people feel they have helped support this species fight for survival and also helped to bring hope to people of the region who are gaining livelihoods from the land.

Dom Wormell

Head of Mammals

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

She told me she simply can't walk, run, or drive past an aluminium can. It may drive her family crazy, but it's saving lives. 

Let me explain…

She and Dom started collecting cans as a way of raising funds. They decided to use all the money they raised through collecting cans to help black lion tamarins in the Brazilian rainforest. For every 50 cans collected, Durrell has planted a tree. More than 80,000 trees have been planted over the last decade. Now that's more than just a number - it's a lifeline that's helping save black lion tamarins from extinction.

Sarah and I sat down together underneath the eucalyptus tree for a chat.

In a few words can sum up what this project is about?

We're educating young people on the island about recycling. We are recycling and respecting the environment. We are helping the black lion tamarins, which is really important. And we're helping the local people in Brazil as well.

So it's a huge win, win situation. And it doesn't cost anybody anything. Just a bit of thought and a bit of effort - well sometimes a lot of effort!

Can you tell me more about black lion tamarins and the problems they are facing?

Sadly, only 5% of their natural habitat is left and that habitat has become degraded. Only small pockets of rain forest are left. It's mainly due to deforestation for beef production. Cheap beef has become such a big industry in that part of the world. So, much of the rainforest has been lost.

These poor little monkeys have become isolated in these small pockets of rainforest. There are some tamarins and marmosets in those isolated pockets, but the problem is that if they are allowed to stay like that, they'll inbreed. Left to continue, this inbreeding will lead to local extinction of the monkey.

How does Cans for Corridors help?

We needed to plant tree corridors to link one pocket of rain forest with another. But tree corridors cost money and as we all know, money doesn’t grow on trees. So we decided to put the money that we were making from recycling cans out into Brazil.

Losing all that rainforest also affected the people living there - their livelihoods depended on those bits of rainforest, which had disappeared. So one of the Durrell Academy's first trainees set up an NGO, called IPE in Brazil.  The people who had lost their livelihoods started to work in the nurseries that were growing the tree saplings.

So Cans for Corridors is helping both people and animals.

It's just a pinprick on the work that needs to be done, but you've got to start somewhere. It's a fine of example of what persistence can achieve. You just keep going with it. Never, ever give up.

What has been achieved so far?

We had some fantastic news at the end of last year whereby the first corridor had been completed in November 2014. It consists of 2,200,000 trees. The area planted is around 1,103 hectares which is equivalent to 1,100 football pitches.

The second corridor is also underway and that already has 6,000 trees in place. And through that, over 700 families and their children have come into the project and now have livelihoods.

Can recycling one aluminium can really make a difference?

Every can makes a difference. Every penny counts. So just pick up that one can and then that next, and then pop them up here to Durrell!

I can't walk past a can without picking it up - it drives my family mad! It's also a way of keeping the island clean.

What does an event like Jersey Live mean for the project?

Jersey Live is one of the biggest events on the island, which lots of young people go to. So to start with you've got an audience of young people. And young people are the audience we need to educate.

I've built up a relationship with Jersey Live over the years and they have come to see the importance of the success of the project. Now that's we've been established for the last 6 years or so, we've become part of the team and people greet us and ask whether they can come help us stamp the cans down with us and of course everyone is in a party mood. So it's great for Durrell because it puts the Durrell brand out to a huge audience.

Last year we reached our target of collecting 16,000 cans. This year I have a target of 20,000.

We're so grateful for the support from the “Warrens” - Warren Holt and Warren Le Suer - from Jersey Live for supporting Cans for Corridors. Thank you so much!

Posted 3 September 2015

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