United Technologies Corp. (UTC) announced today that it is supporting Conservation International's (CI) efforts to restore critically endangered forests within the Mountains of Southwest China through a $200,000 grant stretching over two years.
UTC's grant donation will be used to support a pilot reforestation effort that will replant and improve natural regeneration of native tree species on 102 hectares in the Teng Chong County, Yunnan Province around the Gao Li Gong Nature Reserve. When completed, this effort, a part of CI's Forest Restoration for Climate, Community and Biodiversity (FCCB) initiative, could have the potential to absorb about 16,600 tons of carbon dioxide over 30 years.
"Environmental sustainability is part of UTC's commitment to social responsibility," said Jim Gradoville, president of United Technologies International Operations in China. "That's why we are pleased to support a project such as this, which will help restore the forest in one of the world's most threatened natural environments."
CI's FCCB initiative is working in partnership with the State Forestry Administration of China, the Yunnan and Sichuan forestry departments and other non-government partners to demonstrate the benefits of utilizing native species to restore degraded lands in areas that provide critical habitat for wildlife. In addition to revitalizing habitat, the pilot projects will demonstrate the additional value of ecological services provided by native species, such as carbon sequestration and water services. Initial funding for the initiative was provided by the 3M Foundation.
The Mountains of Southwest China face increased pressure from over logging and flooding due to loss of natural habitat. By reforesting with native species, it provides multiple benefits, such as protecting the region from massive soil erosion and flooding, insuring a viable habitat for endangered species, conservation of soil and water, reducing the risks of pests, pathogens and fire, and sequestration of carbon, one of the main contributors to global climate change.
"We are pleased that CI is helping China restore our natural forests within this vital region, and would also like to thank UTC for their generous support," said Zou Heng Fang, director of reforestation division of the Yunnan Forestry Department. "Such projects show how both private and public entities can work together to support conservation efforts."
CI's reforestation efforts in China will follow the standards created by the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA), an initiative of leading companies and NGOs to promote land-based projects that deliver multiple benefits. To earn approval under the CCB Standards, projects must satisfy 15 required criteria to demonstrate compelling net benefits for fighting climate change, conserving biodiversity, and improving socio-economic conditions for local communities.
"This is a terrific start," said Lu Zhi, Ph.D., country director, CI-China and project leader. "UTC is one of the pioneering companies which understand that such support is a strategic investment in conservation efforts that will not only benefit China, but the world."
One of the world's hotspots, The Mountains of Southwest China stretches over 262,400 square kilometers and is characterized by extremely complex topography, ranging from valleys to mountains. Among these mountains and valleys are a wide variety of ecosystems, including broad-leaved and coniferous forests, bamboo groves, scrub communities, savanna, meadow, prairie, freshwater wetlands, and alpine scrub and screen communities.
The biodiversity hotspots are 34 regions worldwide where 75 percent of the planet's most threatened mammals, birds, and amphibians survive within habitat covering just 2.3 percent of the Earth's surface (roughly equivalent to the combined areas of the five largest U.S. states). This habitat originally covered 15.7 percent of the Earth's surface, an area equivalent in size to Russia and Australia combined. New hotspot analysis shows that an estimated 50 percent of all vascular plants and 42 percent of terrestrial vertebrates exist only in these 34 hotspots.
Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth's richest regions of plant and animal diversity in the biodiversity hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas and key marine ecosystems. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information about CI, visit www.conservation.org.
United Technologies is a Fortune Global 500 company (120th in 2005) based in Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A., that provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the building systems and aerospace industries worldwide. UTC businesses include Otis Elevator, Carrier heating and cooling, UTC Fire & Security, and UTC Power, Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines, Hamilton Sundstrand aerospace systems and Sikorsky helicopters.
For several years, UTC and its business units have supported China's efforts to promote sustainable development. In March of this year, UTC and China's Ministry of Construction signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to promote sustainable development of Chinese buildings and cities. UTC's Otis unit is the first elevator company to receive a Green Product Award from the China Environmental Protection Foundation. UTC's Carrier unit has sponsored the China Ozone Layer Protection Awards Program, hosted by the State Environmental Protection Administration, which recognizes outstanding contributions by Chinese individuals and organizations to ozone layer protection.
Earlier this year, UTC was selected for the second time as one of 100 companies named to the Global Climate 100 Index of businesses that demonstrate leadership in providing solutions to climate change. It was also named to the prestigious Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes, which recognize the top 10 percent of companies from more than 60 industries and 24 countries that are leaders in the area of corporate sustainability. UTC has been chosen every year since the indexes began in 1999. Further information about UTC is available at www.utc.com.