Firm helps protect the Rainforest in the Dales Way

Kate I'Anson, a waitress at Bettys in York, serves afternoon tea to Sam Gibson
Kate I'Anson, a waitress at Bettys in York, serves afternoon tea to Sam Gibson
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There were none of the soggy sandwiches and flasks of tea more usually found in walkers’ rucksacks on offer.

Instead it was a far more genteel affair as walkers out for a day in the Yorkshire Dales witnessed a bit of Yorkshire finery while stopping to take in the splendour of the views.

Surrounded by beautiful scenery they were surprised to stumble across a splendid Afternoon Tea – complete with table, a three tier cake stand and silverware, served by a waitress.

Kate I’Anson, from Bettys, more usually found working as a waitress at its Café Tea Rooms in St Helen’s Square, York, got the chance to leave her usual day job behind her and visit the Yorkshire Dales to help mark an important milestone in a project which has won the backing of Yorkshire folk.

The al fresco Afternoon Tea, at Storiths Crag, on the Bolton Abbey Estate, 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.

The family business has supported environmental conservation since 1990, when it made a pledge to plant one million trees worldwide. Four years ago, after planting more than three million trees, the business turned its attention to rainforest protection.

Now, thanks to the support of staff and customers, the campaign has helped to protect 237,000 hectares of endangered Amazonian rainforest in Peru. But this is just the start; the long-term aim is to protect 1.5 million hectares of rainforest – an area the same size as Yorkshire.

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

“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 Bettys and Taylors donate 50p to the Yorkshire Rainforest Project for every four tokens they receive.

The money raised and donated to date has supported the Rainforest Foundation UK’s work in the Selva Central region of Peru, ensuring that the 10,000 strong Ashaninka rainforest community have the knowledge and resources they need to stay in their ancestral home.

The project was launched by the company in 2008 with the long-term goal of protecting an area of the rainforest the size of the Yorkshire region – 1.5 million hectares.

Between 2009 and 2012 the Yorkshire Rainforest Project focussed its work on a 237,000 hectare area of rainforest in the Selva Central region of Peru.

A total of £750,000 was raised by the business, staff, customers and communities to support the work of the Rainforest Foundation, which helped improve the Ashaninka’s cocoa production, established a trade connection with a Peruvian Fairtrade supplier, assisted 17 communities in developing a management plan for their lands, identified the main causes of deforestation in the areas and trained the communities on environmental issues and how they can protect their rights and lands.

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.

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