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    HSBC Funds Largest Ever Field Experiment on Impact of Climate Change on Forests

    By Keith R | March 10, 2007

    Topics: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Corporate Social Responsibility, Economics & the Environment, Environmental Protection | No Comments »

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    Torrijos National Park (The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) has announced a five-year, US$8 million donation to the Panama-based Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) to create the largest ever field experiment in studying the long-term impact of global climate change on the world’s forests. The donation will allow STRI to dramatically expand its Center for Tropical Forest Science into a coordinated Global Earth Observatory (GEO) system of research partners to encompass 20 large-scale (up to 50 hectares) research plots in the tropical and temperate forests of 20 countries.

    HSBC is the largest bank in Panama and one of Latin America’s largest financial services groups. In announcing the initiative during a visit to Panama, HSBC Group Chairman Stephen Green said: “We know the success of our business in the long term depends on a stable environment. We believe that by supporting this research we will more fully understand the risks and business opportunities presented by climate change and the Smithsonian Institute is the best-equipped and experienced organization of this kind to help us understand how our global environment is changing.”

    STRI is the only portion of the Smithsonian located outside US borders. It has been studying tropical rainforest ecology and other biodiversity issues in Panama for nearly 100 years.

    STRI’s Director, Dr. Ira Rubinoff, said: “The new Global Earth Observatories are based on the longest running standardized forest monitoring program, covering all the major tropical rainforest areas of the world. HSBC’s donation will enable the Smithsonian to deliver key scientific data in the hands of decision makers responsible for global carbon policy and the water management of the Panama Canal.”

    The HSBC grant (the largest corporate grant ever to the STRI) will enable the Institute and its new GEO network to:

    HSBC is unabashed about stressing the linkage it sees between this ecological research and protecting the Panamanian economy and international trade. As Joseph Salteiro, CEO of HSBC Bank (Panama), put it: “This project is critical to Panama. The Canal is the lifeblood of the country and we know this economic engine could be threatened by changing rainfall patterns. The Canal supports a large amount of international trade and therefore is vital to international commerce.” [68% of cargo going to the US passes through the Canal.]

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