Eleven years ago, biology graduate, race car driver and environmental activist Leilani Münter made the commitment to adopt an acre of rainforest for every race she runs. Today, Leilani is proud to announce that she has stepped up her rainforest commitment considerably for the eight races she is running in 2018 in the No. 20 Vegan Strong Toyota for Venturini Motorsports in the ARCA Racing Series. Leilani has partnered with Rainforest Trust to protect over 1,500 acres of rainforest, which will prevent approximately 60,000 metric tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere, equivalent to taking more than 13,000 cars off the road for one year.
“Rainforest Trust is doing incredible work and I am thrilled to partner with them. We are living through the sixth mass extinction event: humans are pushing animals to extinction at a rate that is 1,000 greater than the natural background rate of extinction. I don’t want to live in a world without wild creatures. Our generation needs to do everything we can to save the species we can before it’s too late,” Münter said.
With her donation, Leilani is supporting a Rainforest Trust conservation project located along the Mahakam River on the island of Borneo in East Kalimatan, Indonesia. The river is home to a Critically Endangered population of Mahakam River Dolphin that consists of around 80 individuals. Researchers are in the process of analyzing the DNA of this isolated population and believe that it may be genetically distinct from other populations of Irrawaddy Dolphin, an Endangered cetacean that is typically found in coastal shallows throughout Southeast Asia. The area is also home to many other Endangered species including the Bornean Orangutan, Malaysian Giant Turtle, Proboscis Monkey and Storm’s Stork, as well as numerous threatened bird species. Leilani has plans to travel to Borneo to visit the area with Rainforest Trust.
“We are so excited that Lelani has chosen to share the story of our important conservation work in Borneo with all of her racing fans,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman. “When she visits this proposed protected area in the future, she will be a stronger advocate for the importance of saving species and rainforest.”
On July 12, Leilani spoke about the human impact on our plant during The High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the United Nations in New York City. Her most recent ARCA race was at Pocono Raceway on Friday, July 27.
This story was originally published on July 9 in Speedway Digest.