Rob McKay, Managing Director of Sherrington Associates in Chester, is trailblazing an incredible fundraiser for our conservation work in Borneo. We caught up with him to find out more…
What is Race for the Rainforest?
In March 2021 we’re taking a group of influential business leaders to Borneo to race in the Borneo Ultra-Trail Marathon to raise much needed funds for the zoo’s reforestation work. We’re aiming to raise £50,000 to buy a plot of land in the Sabah region of Borneo to help complete a wildlife corridor between two disconnected areas of rainforest.
What made you want to fundraise?
In 2007 I visited the beautiful island of Borneo for a family holiday. Many years later in 2018 I listened to a talk by Mark Pilgrim about the devastating effects of deforestation caused by the palm oil industry over the last two decades. I was struck and deeply saddened by the huge loss of habitat and biodiversity in the time since I’d visited.
Last year I began talks with the zoo to try to do something about it. Chester Zoo has been doing conservation work in Malaysia and Indonesia for many years and with their partners HUTAN, they’ve been delivering some really innovative projects to reforest and maintain habitats in order to protect endangered species. Understanding their work a little more, I realised that to achieve their conservation ambitions, they need funds.
Why this challenge in particular?
Having looked into a variety of endurance challenges that might warrant suitable fundraising opportunities, we finally decided on probably the most ambitious of all of them. Each year, around March time, over 1,500 athletes compete in the Borneo Ultra-Trail Marathon (BUTM), a merciless footrace through the Sabah jungle in Borneo, with 30k, 50k, 100k and 100 mile race options. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but given the variety of race distances, making it more inclusive for competitors of varying abilities, we felt it was ideal.
“In order to achieve meaningful and lasting change systems and economies to prevent the further growth of the unsustainable palm oil industry, consumer countries like the UK will need to take a completely different approach to the way its supply chains operate.”
Not only that, I wanted to do what I could to promote the use of sustainable palm oil. In order to achieve meaningful and lasting change systems and economies to prevent the further growth of the unsustainable palm oil industry, consumer countries like the UK will need to take a completely different approach to the way its supply chains operate, an area the zoo has been leading on over recent years through the Sustainable Palm Oil City campaign. This challenge will be an important opportunity to allow business leaders to witness the biodiversity crisis first hand – the idea being they’ll return to the UK with a burning passion to influence change in supply chains through their roles in business.
How can people support you?
We’re actively looking for sponsors and competitors right now. If you’re interested in becoming a corporate supporter of the challenge, or even lacing up your trainers and joining the adventure to make a real difference, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and the team will be happy to talk through the plans ahead of our launch event at Chester Zoo on September 25th.
Photo credit: Clark Anderson