It’s an odd look, getting about your daily business with just half a beard, but that’s exactly what James Stanton-Cook does, every day of the year. It’s his way of raising awareness of the fact that half the world’s rainforests have been destroyed.
Jimmy HalfCut in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest
What started as a personal mission has grown quickly. With a growing public profile, James – now fondly known as Jimmy HalfCut, alongside his partner Jessica Clarke – launched a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to raising funds for rainforest conservation. And he’s bringing a considerable number of people along for the ride.
Forming a strategic partnership with Rainforest4 Foundation, HalfCut now uses its reach to raise funds to buy back properties in the Daintree that are at risk of clearing and development.
With the announcement this week of Lot 505 Cedar Road in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest being purchased and protected forever, thanks to HalfCut’s efforts, Jimmy told us about his motivation for starting the organisation.
“What we’re doing is visual disruption,” he said.
“We’re going HalfCut to start conversations about rainforest conservation.”
HalfCut founders Jessica and Jimmy
HalfCut is what’s known as a peer-to-peer movement. That is, an organisation that activates social networks where people encourage their own networks to give to a cause. HalfCut’s strategy is simple. Shave, cut, colour or braid half your hair or beard and ask your mates to donate.
“We’re using social networks to engage people to raise funds for rainforest conservation and rainforest regeneration more broadly,” Jimmy said.
“In 2021 alone, we’ve engaged 517 people in our HalfCut campaign which runs over the month of August.”
“It all culminates in HalfCut Day on 31 August. That’s the day that people take that final, visible step of lopping off or colouring their locks on the back of donations from friends and family.”
Kelvin Davies, a long-time rainforest campaigner and the founder of Rainforest 4 Foundation said the strength in HalfCut’s campaign lies in their ability to keep things lighthearted.
“Rainforest conservation is serious business,” Kelvin said.
“Global rainforest destruction saw a surge in 2020. Demand for commodities, increased agriculture and climate change are all having an impact. Here in Australia, development for housing means the Daintree Rainforest is at constant threat.”
“But HalfCut are helping us convey this message with powerful imagery, not of lush rainforests being cut down, but hair and beards.”
“And people have responded.”
“Last year HalfCut raised $415,000 for our work in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. This year they’ve already raised $350,000 with the ultimate goal a million dollars before World HalfCut day rolls around on 31 August.”
Stronger together - Jimmy and Kelvin, committed to protecting the Daintree Rainforest
“When I launched Rainforest 4 Foundation I knew that everyday people would be committed enough to rainforest conservation that they’d open their wallets and help us achieve our mission. HalfCut’s efforts have demonstrated that in spades.”
While rainforest conservation is at the forefront of Jimmy and Jess’ work, they said what attracted them to Rainforest 4 Foundations’ mission was the organisation’s commitment to working with First Nations people.
“Rainforest 4’s Save The Daintree program works closely with the Traditional Owners of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest – the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people,” Jess said. “And that’s very important to Jimmy and myself.”
“This work largely happens through Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation. Once funds are raised, the blocks purchased are eventually transferred to Jabalbina. Traditional Owners then work to have those blocks added to the Daintree National Park,” Jess added.
Kelvin said the purchase of Lot 505 is the twelfth Daintree Rainforest property secured in the past two years.
“We wouldn’t be able to do this work without the significant contribution of our partners – especially HalfCut.”
“To see so many ordinary people help us Save The Daintree is just phenomenal. They’re absolute heroes.”
For more information see www.GoHalfCut .org and www.Rainforest4.org