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What’s the Olympic connection between Britain’s most famous sideburns and saving the rainforest?


With Wiggo-mania sweeping the country and sideburns of rainforest proportions tipped to be this year’s male fashion must-have, we can look back at what is already an astonishing summer for British cycling and look forward to the prospect of more medals on the Olympic track.

Bradley Wiggins nears the finish at the London 2012 time trialBradley Wiggins nears the finish at the London 2012 time trial © Dan Davison

But what’s all that got to do with conservation?! Well there are some interesting links between Team Sky, WWF, British cyclists, and the Olympic velodrome.

This year has seen remarkable success for Team Sky in the Tour de France, but Sky’s involvement with the sport of cycling goes back further, to their sponsorship of the Great Britain cycling team in 2008.

In February of this year, Sky-sponsored Team GB track cyclists, including Sir Chris Hoy and Laura Trott, hurtled around the velodrome in London’s Olympic Park to win a brace of medals in the test event. This was perfect preparation for this week’s events at the velodrome.

True to WWF’s One Planet Olympics vision, the London 2012 velodrome is widely regarded as the most sustainable venue in the Olympic Park. Perhaps most crucially, the all-important superfast track surface is made from sustainable FSC-certified Baltic pine.

And it’s this connection between cycling, the One Planet Olympics and sustainable timber that brings us neatly on to the connection between WWF and Sky.

Bradley Wiggins atop the Tour de France podiumBradley Wiggins atop the Tour de France podium © Brendan Ryan

Sky and WWF have been working together through Sky Rainforest Rescue to help save one billion trees in Acre, north-west Brazil, since 2009.

Thanks to the incredible support of the public, we reached our £2 million fundraising target six months early, and Sky has matched all donations pound for pound.

Sky Rainforest Rescue is working to make the forest worth more alive than dead to local communities, supporting them in livelihoods that don’t involve deforesting. And it really is having an impact, with more than 1,000 families joining the land certification scheme we’re supporting, providing farmers with benefits such as crops, small livestock and training in return for committing not to deforest their land.

But protecting the rainforest takes time, so together, Sky and WWF have committed to another three years of this ambitious campaign to tackle deforestation in the Amazon.

So the connection between Sky, cycling, WWF and forests, which last year saw Team Sky Tour de France riders sporting the panda logo on their jerseys, is set to continue.

After Team GB’s cyclists pit themselves against the world’s finest in the sustainable velodrome at this summer’s Olympics, our work to protect the Amazon rainforest will carry on. Because with cycling, just like protecting the rainforest, it’s the passion and long-term commitment that pays off.

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