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Bankers go wild as HSBC invests in nature

13 May 2002 - London - Over the next five years, 2000 HSBC workers will leave their desks and head into the field to help scientists collect data for environmental projects ranging from watching sea turtles in Costa Rica to tracking endangered jaguars in Brazil.

The international banking and financial services organization will pay for its employees' time as part of a US$ 50 million contribution to Investing in Nature, a joint project with the conservation charities Earthwatch, WWF and Botanic Gardens Conservation International.

In all, HSBC staff will supply the equivalent of a century of research to projects run by Earthwatch, a charity that aims to promote sustainable conservation by creating partnerships between scientists, educators and the general public.

"We are delighted that HSBC is making such a significant environmental investment and believe this programme will emonstrate the positive impacts of corporate and NGO partnerships in contributing to a sustainable future for our planet," said Earthwatch Europe's Chief Executive Robert Barrington.

Earthwatch believe business sector participation is vital in mobilizing the resources needed to conserve the world's environmental and cultural resources. They have set up employee fellowship schemes with a number of corporations including Mitsubishi, Shell and Rio Tinto. Businesses donate not only time but also the office hours of their employees to help on
research projects in some of the world's most fragile ecosystems.

"[The HSBC scheme] is the largest employee fellowship programme we've ever run," said Earthwatch's Eve Carpenter.
"What's good about this project is that it's not only providing new data to improve scientific knowledge, but it's a brilliant way to raise environmental awareness in a range of people from HSBC offices around the world."

One of these people is Assistant Manager Chris Wates, who has worked at the bank for twenty years. On HSBC's time, he volunteered to take part in a US-based project run by Earthwatch and the University of Idaho. Mr Wates has recently returned to his desk in South East England after nine days of tracking mountain lions with wildlife ecologists in Idaho.

He said: "I was given the opportunity to be involved in hands-on field research and a chance to see up close a beautiful and elusive predator. It was a stunning experience." "We used trained dogs to follow mountain lion tracks in the snow. When we
came across the lion we'd tranquillise it so that we could collect data and fix a radio collar," he said.

Mr Wates said the new data suggests that mountain lion populations are declining as their habitats are fragmented by urban sprawl. The banker is now expecting a grant from HSBC, which, together with his new skills and knowledge, he aims to put into a joint project with a local wildlife group to run activities for children in Essex.

Like the other HSBC volunteers, by passing on his experiences Chris Wates will encourage others to respect the planet's diversity and invest in its future.

HSBC Holdings plc employs over 160,000 people in 78 countries and territories, and serves 31 million customers. In 2000, three quarters of HSBC's donations went into environment and educational programmes. The group is one of the founding signatories of the United Nations Environment Programme and a founding member of Hong Kong's Business Environment Council.

Contact: Richard Beck, Head of Group External Relations. Tel: +44 20 7260 6757

Earthwatch, an international non-profit making organization, supports research, education and conservation programmes to promote sustainable conservation of the world's natural resources and cultural heritage. They support the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity and the UN Environment Programme's World Conversation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) which maintains biodiversity databases to make information on the world's species available to all. Many of their projects
are run in partnership with local non-governmental organizations

Contact: Eve Carpenter