Protected – a rainforest patch as big as the Dales

Forget thermos flasks and curled up sandwiches, walkers in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales were surprised to stumble across a splendid Afternoon Tea' complete with table, three tier cake stand, silverware and Bettys waitress. The al fresco Afternoon Tea marked the completion of the first phase of Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate's Yorkshire Rainforest Project, a venture which has seen �750,000 raised over three years to help protect an area of Peruvian rainforest roughly the same size as the Yorkshire Dales. 'Kate I'Anson, a waitress at Bettys in York, serves afternoon tea to Sam Gibson, Bettys and Taylors Ethical Projects Officer overlooking the Yorkshire Dales National Park near Bolton Abbey.'picture mike cowling sept 06 2012
Forget thermos flasks and curled up sandwiches, walkers in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales were surprised to stumble across a splendid Afternoon Tea' complete with table, three tier cake stand, silverware and Bettys waitress. The al fresco Afternoon Tea marked the completion of the first phase of Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate's Yorkshire Rainforest Project, a venture which has seen �750,000 raised over three years to help protect an area of Peruvian rainforest roughly the same size as the Yorkshire Dales. 'Kate I'Anson, a waitress at Bettys in York, serves afternoon tea to Sam Gibson, Bettys and Taylors Ethical Projects Officer overlooking the Yorkshire Dales National Park near Bolton Abbey.'picture mike cowling sept 06 2012
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A huge swathe of endangered Amazonian rainforest have been salvaged this year thanks to a Harrogate company’s fundraising efforts.

Over 230,000 hectares of rainforest in Peru – roughly equivalent in size to the Yorkshire Dales – have been protected after a campaign by Bettys & Taylors hit its fundraising target of £750,000.

But the firm says it isn’t stopping there – this, it says, was just the first phase of its Yorkshire Rainsforest Project.

Its long-term aim is to protect 1.5 million hectares of Peruvian rainforest – the same size as the whole of the Yorkshire region.

The family business, which has been campaigning for environmental conservation since 1990, planted more than three million trees worldwide before turning its attention to rainforest protection.

Sam Gibson, Bettys & Taylors’ ethical projects officer, said: “We’ve been bowled over with the support we’ve received for our campaign.

“Yorkshire Tea and Taylors Coffee drinkers have saved thousands of tokens and Bettys’ customers have attended events and purchased fundraising specialities.

“Among others, we’ve received fundraising support from schools, Yorkshire cricketers’ ‘runs for the rainforest’ and the region’s finest and most famous writers putting forward their own theory on just who Betty might be for our Who Was Betty? book.”

Tokens are printed on Yorkshire Tea boxes and Taylors Coffee packs, and the company donates 50p to the Yorkshire Rainforest Project for every four tokens it receives.

To celebrate the campaign’s success, Bettys hosted an al fresco afternoon tea at Storiths Crag, on the Bolton Abbey Estate (pictured above).

The special tea came complete with a three tier cake stand, silverware, china and a waitress.

The money raised has been used to support the Rainforest Foundation UK’s work in the Selva Central region of Peru, which Bettys have been campaigning for since 2008.

The campaign has ensured that the 10,000-strong Ashaninka rainforest community in Peru have the knowledge and resources they need to stay in their ancestral home.

Money raised and donated has gone towards a wide range of projects.

These include improving the Ashaninka’s cocoa production, establishing a trade connection with a Peruvian Fairtrade supplier and assisting 17 communities in developing a management plan for their lands.

Money has also been spent on identifying the main causes of deforestation in the areas and training the communities on environmental issues and how they can protect their rights and lands.

“The Ashaninka are on the front line of an environmental battle that could impact us all,” said Ms Gibson.

“Thanks to our customers, the Ashaninka community now have the skills and confidence to protect their rights, manage their forestland and make a living by developing small scale sustainable livelihoods. Helping them protect the rainforest is protecting the planet for us all.”

The next stage of the project will see the business continue to work with the Rainforest Foundation and the Ashaninka communities in Peru, and support Nature Kenya in a new tree planting and forest preservation project in Kenya.