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Dear alumni and supporters of Opwall,

Thank you for continuing to support our work through this challenging year. 2021 has been a turning point for Operation Wallacea and the way we work on conservation challenges worldwide. While there have been difficult times, I am increasingly optimistic about the future of our organisation, the climate, and global biodiversity.

As you may know, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic stopped our 2020 expeditions in their tracks, and only four sites were re-opened in 2021. This unforeseeable and unprecedented interruption of our long-term monitoring projects will undoubtedly impact both our data and conservation interventions for many years to come and in ways we cannot yet imagine. However, this extended pause also gave us time to gather our thoughts and consider how to continue supporting our loyal partners and their conservation efforts even when travel was not possible.

The new ideas that arose from this time are the reason I continue to be an optimist on positive outcomes for climate and species particularly if the private sector can be harnessed to help with investing in the environment. The private sector has enormous potential to help with the drive for reforestation through the voluntary carbon offset market. Opwall is heavily involved in the restoration of huge areas of mangroves in the Gulf of Fonseca, Honduras using this mechanism; with 60% of the funding going to local communities to re-establish and maintain the new forests.  This innovative project is designed to demonstrate how the private sector can focus their drive for Net Zero Carbon to significantly impact reforestation efforts.

Whilst climate change is a clear and present threat to the world, the other major problem facing us all is the loss of biodiversity. Climate change and biodiversity loss are equal sized threats, yet, at the moment, other than philanthropic donations there are no ways to fund investment in either protecting existing biodiverse rich sites or uplifting biodiversity in damaged areas.  Opwall has been working with a series of international institutions to develop a tradeable biodiversity uplift credit that can be used to monetize biodiversity.  This means that project proponents currently tempted to cover their land with a monoculture to gain carbon funding can now develop projects which both sequester carbon and increase biodiversity, since both would produce economic returns. This development has significant implications, for example, for how new rewilding projects can be funded.

I am excited about these new developments, and I am also pleased to know that many of our expedition sites will be running from 2022 forward. We have learned a lot in nearly two years of quiet British summers, but the team and I still miss the whirlwind of preparing for the season and seeing the data, photos, and updates stream in from our international teams from June to August. I am looking forward to this return to preparation for our busy expedition season in the coming months.

In the meantime, I want to wish you and your families a very happy holiday season. We at Opwall are incredibly grateful for your support and your continued commitment to caring for global biodiversity. Best wishes from the entire Opwall team!

Cordially,

Dr. Tim Coles, OBE

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