The Royal Holloway Rainforest Project was organised by students at Royal Holloway, University of London with the aim purchasing and protecting an area of tropical rainforest the size of the university’s Surrey campus (135 acres).

A successful round of fundraising resulted in the purchase of 167 acres of tropical rainforest, on the banks of the River Bambuscaro in Southern Ecuador. Roughly 9,800 trees were protected through the purchase.

The project was co-founded by undergraduate students Ashley Coates and Anna Wilmott-Stanton and ran between 2009 and 2011.

Poster showing the completed grid in 2011. Each box represents one acre in Royal Holloway’s 135-acre campus. Image: Ashley Coates/Flickr

The project

Students and staff as well as businesses in the Egham area purchased individual acres, or half acres, displayed on a grid representing the full 135-acre ambition of the project.

Acres were sold at £50 each, with donors given their names or company logos in the grid and a certificate of purchase.

A large projection of the grid was displayed on the floor of the Bedford Library and on posters throughout the campus.

The Royal Holloway Rainforest grid in late 2010, with 41 of the 135 acres purchased. Image: Ashley Coates/Flickr

All funds raised were donated to the World Land Trust (registered charity no. 1001291), an international conservation organisation that boasts David Attenborough as its Patron.

Since 1989, the World Land Trust has helped save 400,000 acres of rainforest through raising funds and donating it to nature reserves.

‘Give Your Library Fines to Charity’, a day where 100% of fines paid into Bedford and Founder’s Libraries went to the project managed to raise £4525.30. A total of £8,420 was raised between the library fines, private and business donations.

The reserve

The World Land Trust passed the funds on to Nature and Culture International Ecuador who purchased a 227-acre plot on the banks of the River Bambuscaro in 2011. Royal Holloway’s land purchase is part of this plot.

The site sits within the Podocarpus National Park in Southern Ecuador.


The Podocarpus National Park protects an area known as as the Andean cloud forests, in the Upper Amazon. This region is a high priority for global biodiversity conservation and is highly threatened. It is currently listed as an IUCN Category II national park.

Spectacled bear, mountain tapir, ocelot and puma are all native to this part of the world, as are around 600 species of bird, 61 species of hummingbird and 81 species of tanager.

Endemic species including the Andean cock of the rock, newline metal tail and white breasted parakeet are amongst the birds of greatest interest to ornithologists.

Four rivers begin in the Andean cloud forests, eventually supplying around one million people in Ecuador and Peru with water.

The area of land purchase can be viewed using UTM coordinates: 724528 (X m) 9543455 (V m).


Conservation in Southern Ecuador

Ecuador is home to some of the most biodiverse habitat on the planet. The country’s forests are home to a number of South America’s most impressive species, including the jaguar, sloth, spectacled bear and ocelot. Included within these forests are:

1600 species of birds (17% of the world’s total).
4000 species of orchid.
400 species of amphibian.

Many of these plants and animals are endangered and are listed on IUCN’s Red List of threatened wildlife.

During the last century 80% of Ecuador’s rainforest was destroyed due to logging. In many areas logging has continued and this is threatening much of the region’s incredible wildlife.

Donors to the project

Donations to the Royal Holloway Rainforest Project came from the university, students, staff, local businesses and the Student’s Union. A few of our donors included:

  • RHUL Library Services
  • Richard Caring (entrepreneur)
  • Tej Dhillon (RHUL alumna, owner of Dhillon Group)
  • Egham & Staines News
  • Wentworth Club
  • Arora Hotels
  • Department of Geography, Department of Economics, School of Biological Sciences
  • New Let, Aspens estate agents


“Royal Holloway, University of London, is proud to support this project. In making a contribution to the World Land Trust, we hope that RHUL and the surrounding community will leave a legacy to future generations and set a precedent for similar institutions to be innovative when tackling environmental issues” 
Adam Tickell, Vice-Principal, Research, Enterprise and Communications, RHUL.

“The World Land Trust congratulates Royal Holloway on its initiative to save an area of tropical rainforest in Ecuador equal to the size of the Royal Holloway campus. World Land Trust is saving real acres in real places, permanently, and this donation will go towards protecting an area of high species biodiversity that would otherwise have been lost.”
John Burton, CEO, World Land Trust. 

“The Royal Holloway Rainforest Project is a fantastic initiative that the BEARS teams are proud to support. Donating to the World Land Trust through this project is an effective way to contribute to international conservation and we strongly encourage others to get involved and help reach the 135 acre target”
Julian Bailes, President, Royal Holloway BEARS.

Trees surrounding the Bambuscaro river in the Podocarpus National Park (Image: public domain)


This project would never have worked without the help of countless students and staff at Royal Holloway and businesses and organisations in the surrounding area. We are particularly grateful to a number of individuals who gave their time and expertise to the project.

John Tuck – Libraries, RHUL
Dave Cobb – Libraries Representative, SURHUL
John King – Research and Enterprise, RHUL
James Pidgeon – President, Students Union, RHUL (2009 to 2010)
Kelly Jacobs – Education, Outreach and Training Officer, World Land Trust
Emily Darling – Undergraduate, BA English (2009 -)
Ann Uttley – Communications, RHUL
Ed Resek – Ethics & Environment Officer, SURHUL
Sarah Honeycombe – Assistant Station Manager, Insanity Radio
Adam Tickell – Vice Principal for Research, Enterprise and Communication, RHUL
Sophia Haque –  RHUL Press Office

Job titles are dated from 2010/2011.