WASHINGTON, DC (September 19, 2006)--Concerned about global warming and the health of the planet, the Dixie Chicks announced today that they will partner with Conservation International (CI) to help offset the carbon footprint associated with their 2006 Accidents and Accusations concert tour. The band's investment will help preserve one of the last remnants of pristine rain forests in Madagascar, the island nation off the coast of Africa. In addition, the Chicks are asking their fans to join their efforts by calculating and offsetting their own climate impacts.
The Dixie Chicks commitment will offset the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions released from the trucks, buses, airplane travel, hotel rooms, concerts venues and fans driving to and from their concerts. Martie, Natalie, and Emily also are offsetting their personal emissions for the entire year. The release of carbon dioxide into the earth's atmosphere is the leading cause of global warming--with a variety of negative impacts including volatile weather, increased disease, dying coral reefs and the melting polar ice caps.
"As global warming gets worse, it is effecting everything from farmers in the Midwest to endangered animals in Africa, and it is so crucial that we all work together to solve this problem," said Emily Robinson (fiddler player) of the Dixie Chicks. "We are asking our fans to join us by supporting Conservation International's efforts. Together, we can make a difference in the fight against climate change, protecting our environment, and helping local communities."
The Dixie Chicks' offset will be achieved through their partial funding of the Makira Forest Project, an initiative of the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the government of Madagascar and CI to permanently protect 350,000 hectares (850,000 acres) of tropical rain forest in the North East region of Madagascar. The burning and clearing of tropical forests and other ecoŽsystems accounts for more than 20 percent of humanity's annual CO2 emissions. Thus, funding projects that prevent forest destruction helps "offset" carbon dioxide emissions and reduces the concentration of greenhouse gases.
"This offset is just another example of how the Dixie Chicks are taking an active stand on important national and global issues," said Michael Totten, CI's senior director for climate and water. "Asking their fans to join the band's efforts in reducing their carbon footprint helps bring attention to the vital issue of climate change and demonstrates the simple and tangible actions all of us can take to reduce climate change, support communities and protect our environment."
Fan Involvement: A Call to Action
Dixie Chicks fans can calculate how much carbon their daily activities generate using the carbon calculator found on CI's Web site at www.conservation.org. Once fans have calculated their carbon footprint, they will be presented with options to offset that impact, including supporting the Makira Forest Project.
CI and the Dixie Chicks also encourage fans to take other simple, everyday actions to reduce their carbon footprint, such as reducing gasoline usage by walking or riding a bike when possible, purchasing a fuel efficient vehicle, reducing home heating, cooling and electricity usage by installing timed thermostats and compact fluorescent light bulbs, and taking the train or driving instead of flying.
The Makira Forest Project
Initiatives such as the Makira Forest Project demonstrate the value of 'multiple-benefit' land-based carbon offset projects that also protect the environment and support local communities. Over the next 30 years, the Makira Forest Project will help store approximately 9.5 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). The region is home to several critically endangered plant and animal species found nowhere else on the planet, such as the Madagascar serpent eagle and silky sifaka, a lemur known for its rattling calls to warn of aerial predators.
More than 150,000 people also rely on the Makira forests, which controls erosion and protects regional watersheds, vital to local and regional economies based on subsistence agriculture and cash crop production. Local communities utilize the forests for the sustainable extraction of non-timber forest products such as penja, a plant woven into hats and baskets that are sold in local markets, providing an important income for women. WCS efforts to relieve pressure on the forests while supporting these communities includes direct financing and implementation of targeted development projects, support to local associations, and training local community members in intensified, sustainable, and ecologically sound methods of agricultural cultivation.
"It is terrific the way the Dixie Chicks are helping the world to focus on the serious problem of climate change while also supporting our efforts to save tropical rainforests and improve the livelihoods of Malagasy people living around the forest," said Dr. Helen Crowley, WCS's Madagascar Country Program Director. "It can make such a difference for the poor, but magnificent country, Madagascar, to have help from friends around the world."
A range of groups have taken similar offset commitments by contributing to the funding of the Makira Forest Project including Pearl Jam, S.C. Johnson, NAVTEQ, and Mitsubishi.
Poverty, a high population growth rate, and a lack of agriculture alternatives, have resulted in extensive deforestation of Madagascar caused by slash and burn agriculture. Because of the juxtaposition of the country's unique plant and animal diversity with the high degree of threat, scientists have classified Madagascar as a biodiversity hotspot. The biodiversity hotspots are 34 regions worldwide where 75 percent of the planet's most threatened animal and plants 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). For additional information about Makira and the Madagascar hotspot, visit www.wcs.org, and www.biodiversityhotspots.org/xp/Hotspots/madagascar/.
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.
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