Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How We're Helping Wilderness to Flourish in Land of the Giants; the Evening Standard Is Backing a Pioneering Project to Develop and Safeguard Uganda's Beauty and Biodiversity to Benefit the Whole of Africa. Oliver Poole Reports

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How We're Helping Wilderness to Flourish in Land of the Giants; the Evening Standard Is Backing a Pioneering Project to Develop and Safeguard Uganda's Beauty and Biodiversity to Benefit the Whole of Africa. Oliver Poole Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: Oliver Poole reports

THE African landscapes that featured in the film King Solomon's Mines, and are home to a host of elephants and other iconic species, are the focus of a pioneering Investment Forum being staged today to protect Uganda's wildernesses and wildlife.

the Giants Club Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum will encourage businesses to invest in Uganda's national parks and other conservation areas to help raise vital funds to support the country's wildlife. It is the first such event ever staged in Africa. Uganda has the continent's fastest growing elephant population but, with urgent development needs and a limited budget, lacks financial resources to fully support its conservation requirements.

Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, who is hosting the forum, said he hoped to develop a "thriving, commercially vibrant nature-based tourism economy" as a result of the event. "We are open and welcome

new investment and new thinking, for new tourism enterprises and new partners," he said. "Above all, we are ready for smart and compelling investment ideas for appropriate development that allows visitors to enjoy Uganda's unique natural habitats and support our economy and communities."

Among those attending the event will be Giants Club patron Evgeny Lebedev, the proprietor of the Evening Standard. He will be accompanied by his father, Alexander Lebedev, and Evening Standard Editor George Osborne.

They will be joined by Erik Solheim, executive director of UN Environment, who will be making one of the keynote speeches. The Giants Club, backed by the Standard, was launched by international conservation group Space for Giants. It unites political leaders, philanthropists, business chiefs and conservationists in developing innovative new solutions to protect Africa's key remaining wildernesses.

Over the past year it has worked with its partners, the United Nations Development Programme and the African Wildlife Foundation, to help Uganda identify which of the country's 3.1 mil-lion hectares of wildlife zones would suit new international investment.

Among them were sites in Murchison Falls National Park, which served as a backdrop in the 1950 film adaptation of H Rider Haggard's book King Solomon's Mines, starring Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger and Richard Carlson. "Uganda is truly a treasure in terms of the beauty and the biodiversity of its natural wildernesses, and their potential as economic assets to benefit the country as a whole," said Max Graham, chief executive of Space for Giants. …

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