Rainforest Trust Ranked One of the Top Conservation Nonprofit’s by Charity Navigator

Charity NavigatorRainforest Trust has Charity Navigator’s coveted 4-STAR RATING for being one of the most efficient conservation nonprofits in the US.

Over 97% of our budget is spent on direct conservation action–an efficiency few conservation organizations in the US can match.

At Rainforest Trust, we feel the most effective conservation strategy is continuing to do what we have always done best: buying and protecting rainforests forever.

We pride ourselves on our 23-year commitment to low overhead and high effectiveness. We are a small staff of conservationists and project coordinators committed to saving biodiversity, one rainforest at a time.

Our method is simple: we buy land to protect it–saving more of our planet’s biological riches for future generations. Our highly experienced and dedicated staff and board, combined with the on-the-ground expertise of our partners, ensures that we are accomplishing as much as we can and address the most urgent priorities, all for the best possible price.

With your help we have already protected over 2 million acres of critical lands for biodiversity conservation–at a fraction of the cost of other NGOs.

Because we are so efficient, your contribution to Rainforest Trust has an even greater impact.

World’s Smallest Orchid Discovered in Partner Reserve

The newly discovered orchid has petals so thin that they are just one cell thick and transparent.
 Cerro Candelaria Reserve is owned by our partner Fundación EcoMinga and is located in Ecuadorian Andes.
 The cream-colored orchid measures only 2.1mm from petal tip to petal tip.

A previously unknown species of orchid, the world’s smallest, has been discovered inside the Cerro Candelaria Reserve by our partner, Fundación EcoMinga, in the Andes Mountains of central Ecuador. The reserve, established by EcoMinga thanks to the support of the Rainforest Trust, protects 5,221 acres of wet cloud forest and páramo (natural high Andean grasslands) on the Amazonian slope of the Andes.

The Executive Director of Fundación EcoMinga, Dr. Lou Jost, discovered the new species among the roots of a larger orchid within the boundaries of the reserve. This tiny orchid’s flower is just 2.1 millimeters or 5/64 inch across, and its petals are only one cell thick! It is a member of the genus Platystele, which is made up mainly of miniature plants.

The Cerro Candelaria Reserve encompasses a large tract of virgin forest–stretching from the Sangay National Park towards the Amazon River Basin. It shelters a number of rare orchids, including an orchid genus found no where else on earth.

Dr Jost, one of the world’s leading orchid hunters, noted, “It’s a very exciting feeling to find a new species. People think everything has been discovered but there’s much more to be discovered.”

To date, 16 new species of orchid have been discovered in this reserve, as well as a new species of frog and a new species of tree that will be named in honor of Sir David Attenborough. Cerro Candelaria is also home to many threatened animal and bird species including the the Mountain Tapir, Spectacled Bear, Ocelot, and the White-rimmed Brush-Finch.

We thank our donors for their support in protecting this and many other threatened and biologically rich habitats like it. Without your help, none of this would be possible.

Energetix Helps Save Threatened Tropical Habitats

Hypsiboas picturatus
El Dorado Reserve

Energetix, a leader in natural remedies, has joined other supporters across the globe by protecting lands that conserve rare or endangered species and ecosystems. Energetix has purchased over 65 acres of threatened tropical forest through the Rainforest Trust to help save this high-priority land from being lost forever.

According to U.N. agricultural official, Jan Heimo, “Damage to forest ecosystems is affecting everyone in the world through climate change, water scarcity, and the loss of biological diversity.” U.N. agencies have continually pointed to the essential role that forests play in the health of the planet.

Energetix recognizes that by saving the forests, they can help protect habitat and improve the global health of the planet. By doing their part, Energetix will have a real and lasting impact on conservation, and we are grateful for their continued support of our projects.

Headquartered on a lovely and natural 50-acre estate in the North Georgia foothills, Energetix produces the finest, most potent BioEnergetic products available. The company produces a professional remedy line that caters exclusively to healthcare practitioners–including naturopaths, chiropractors, AK practitioners, EAV practitioners, acupuncturists and homeopaths, MDs, nurse practitioners, and practitioners of Chinese medicine.

Product manufacturing occurs in several remote, yet pristine locations in North America.

Since our foundation in 1988, Rainforest Trust has helped purchase and protect over 1.6 million acres of tropical forests, coral reefs, coastal steppes, and ancient woodlands. We include local people and local partner organizations in every step of the process to create long-term sustainability for our projects.

Rainforest Trust Alliance with GO Airport Express to Ride and Save Rainforests


Rainforest Trust is pleased to announce that GO Airport Express is donating proceeds from ridership to help us protect rainforests and other threatened habitats around the globe. Under the Penny-per-Passenger program, GO Airport Express, Chicago’s premier ground transportation company, will donate one cent for every individual who books a ride to or from O’Hare or Midway airports.

The company transports almost one million passengers per year, meaning approximately $10,000 will be donated annually to support Rainforest Trust’s efforts to buy and protect critical lands.

“The Penny-per-Passenger program is part of the GO Airport Express mission to broaden its green efforts,” said John McCarthy, company president.

“A shared ride is an environmentally friendly ground transportation option,” he explained. “With six people on board, a van uses only 30 percent of the fuel that six cars would use and creates 54 percent fewer carbon emissions.”

“Now, we’re even greener. The more people who ride, the more money will be generated for Rainforest Trust, funding direct action to save tropical forests,” McCarthy added.

Rainforest Trust Director Byron Swift agrees.

“The destruction of tropical rainforests accounts for 20% of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere by man and is the major contributor to the loss of biodiversity on the planet,” Swift said.

“Preventing this destruction by preserving existing forest is the most efficient and effective way to mitigate climate change and preserve biodiversity, and we deeply welcome this support from GO Airport Express and its passengers.”

Founded in 1853 as the Parmelee Transportation Company, GO Airport Express currently transports more than one million passengers annually to and from Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airports. Its door-to-door services are offered to and from downtown Chicago, as well as most Chicago neighborhoods and its surrounding suburbs. It is also a founding member for GO Airport Shuttle, offering transportation in airports worldwide. For more information or to book transportation, click here.

1,700 Acres of Brazilian Rainforest Saved; 18,000 Acres Now Protected

Atlantic Rainforest biome
 Atlantic Rainforest
 Red-billed Curassow

Our Brazilian partner REGUA (the Guapi Assu Ecological Reserve) has successfully purchased a spectacular 1,700-acre property adjacent to the recently acquired Matumbo Gap properties. This now brings the area of Atlantic Rainforest owned and managed by the reserve to a grand total of 18,000 acres, which protects one of the last stands of tropical rainforest left in the severely deforested Atlantic Rainforest.

REGUA is home to at least 420 species of birds of which 120 are endemic to the coastal Atlantic Rainforest biome–as well as mammals such as Woolly Spider Monkey and Puma. It is part of a region that has long faced agricultural and hunting pressures and just an hour by road from the mega metropolis of Rio de Janerio–home to the 2016 Olympics.

This new area, acquired with the support of Rainforest Trust and our UK partner Rainforest Trust, fits within REGUA’s long-term strategy to create a corridor between their existing reserve to join with the International Primatology Center, located to the west of REGUA.

The reserve is actively developing a reforestation program for cleared land and also has plans to reintroduce certain key species that have vanished from the area– including include the Critically Endangered Red-billed Curassow–whose global population in the wild is thought to be under 650 individuals.

16,000-Acre Yellow-eared Parrot Corridor Established in Colombian Andes

Yellow-eared Parrot
Fuertes's Parrot
 Colombia’s Andes Mountains

In April 2009, Rainforest Trust was presented with an urgent appeal to purchase critically endangered habitat in Colombia, home to five endangered parrot species at imminent risk of extinction. Recognizing the critical importance of this appeal, a Rainforest Trust donor–Frank Friedrich Kling from Illinois–committed to funding half the acquisition cost as part of a matching gift campaign.

Colombia’s Andes Mountains are home to a highland cloud forest that supports an exceptional amount of biodiversity and numerous endangered species as well as providing a plentful supply of water resources to communities, farmers, and cities in the region. Five endangered parrot species are present in this forest, including two of the rarest parrots in the Americas: the Indigo-winged Parrot and the Yellow-eared parrot. The Critically Endangered Fuertes’s Parrot hadn’t been seen for 91 years until it was rediscovered by our partner ProAves Colombia in 2002. Today, there are less than 200 individuals remaining in the entire world, and none are held in captivity. An extremely specialized species, the Indigo-winged Parrot feeds on mistletoe and other fruits and can not survive behind bars.

This is also the case for the Yellow-eared Parrot that have such tight social bonds between families and groups that when captured they almost invariably die. For example, in the early 1990s illegal trappers in Ecuador caught 20 Yellow-eared parrots and placed them in captivity. Within two weeks every bird had died. There are no options for either species–their native habitat has to be protected if they are to survive.

Other rare and endemic species found here include the endangered Mountain Wooly Tapir and the Spectacled Bear, both of which are frequently targeted by hunters.

The rich volcanic soils of the Central Andes support the highest concentration of rural farmers and residents in all of Colombia. As a result, less than five percent of the original native forest remains standing. Every year, more forest cover is lost as ranchers buy and clear more land for cattle ranching and agriculture.

For eight years, our partner ProAves Colombia has surveyed and studied the cloud forest parrots in the Central Andes of Colombia (see map of site) with the support of Fundación Loro Parque. This comprehensive research project identified key areas and threats that permitted targeted and effective conservation actions to be undertaken.

The generous matching support offered by Frank Kling persuaded many Rainforest Trust supporters to donate to this important appeal, who together allowed our partner to acquire 7,448 acres. Our donors also helped leverage additional support matching support from American Bird Conservancy, IUCN Netherlands/SPN in conjunction with the Netherlands Postcode Lottery, Conservation International, and Robert Wilson, which allowed a further 2,614 acres to be acquired.

In total, our partner acquired and saved 10,062 acres on the eastern slope of the Central Andes of Colombia which connect to a further 6,653 acres of cloud forest already under their protection on the mountain chain’s western flank.

Spanning both slopes of the Central Andes and encompassing an extraordinary diversity of threatened and endemic flora and fauna, we have established the 16,715-acre, 14-mile Yellow-eared Parrot Conservation Corridor so that today, the Yellow-eared Parrot and many other threatened species have a sanctuary to call home. The corridor also provides important economic benefits. Support from Fundación Loro Parque has allowed ProAves to train and hire six local people to manage and protect the Corridor. With American Bird Conservancy, ProAves, and the local Muncipality of Roncesvalles, we hope to develop an ecotourism initiative that will provide a sustainable income stream for the corridor as well as a stimulus for the local economy. Importantly, the corridor protects four major watersheds that ensures a clean and plentiful supply of water of over 20,000 people and numerous farms in the region.

Many thanks to all our donors who contributed to establish the corridor. We could not have done this without your help.

Rainforest Trust Partner Discovers Key Areas for an Endangered Hummingbird

Esmeraldas Woodstar
Ayampe Reserve
Esmeraldas Woodstar

Researchers from our partner organization in Ecuador, Fundación Jocotoco, have just published important new information on the distribution, plumage, and reproductive behavior of the Endangered Esmeraldas Woodstar (Chaetocercus berlepschi) thanks to the support of  Rainforest Trust and American Bird Conservancy. This tiny hummingbird, barely bigger than a bumblebee, is endemic to moist forest in the coastal lowlands and foothills of central and northern Ecuador, where it has a small range and an extremely fragmented distribution.

Although the Fundación Jocotoco researchers encountered the hummingbird most frequently in the Ayampe area, they also found small numbers at sites as far as 62 miles northward along the coast. They also discovered the first nests of the species for science. In fact, they located a total of 33 nests—a remarkable number for any species of tropical hummingbird. While monitoring these nests, the researchers made the surprising discovery that birds previously described and shown in field guide illustrations as females were actually juvenile males. The study was published in the June issue of the Wilson Journal of Ornithology. It is now known that female Esmeraldas Woodstars resemble the females of the closely related Little Woodstar (C. bombus), although with a distinct tail pattern and different head markings. This new information is critical for obtaining further reliable information on the species and will aid future researchers and conservationists taking much-needed action to save the species. Much remains to be learned about the Esmeraldas Woodstar; for example it is still not known where the species spends the non-breeding season.

The Esmeraldas Woodstar is acutely threatened by the loss of lowland and foothill moist forest. As little as 10% of these forests remain in western Ecuador and most forest patches are small fragments that may provide poor habitat. Esmeraldas Woodstars breed at a few sites in Machalilla National Park but the park does not provide suitable protection for the species. The park is subject to frequent logging and hunting, and there are even a few villages inside the park boundaries. The woodstar is not known to breed in any other protected area.

Bert Harris, one of the Jocotoco researchers, put it in the following way: “The Esmeraldas Woodstar critically needs a new protected area in its breeding range. Breeding hotspots such Ayampe are under considerable human pressure from logging, agriculture, and mining. If swift action is not taken, these key areas may become so degraded that they will no longer support breeding. Ideally the protected area should be established along the southern Manabí coast near Ayampe.”

Rainforest Trust is working with Fundación Jocotoco on developing these conservation solutions for the Esmeraldas Woodstar.

3,356 Acres of Endangered Magdalena Valley Rainforest Saved

magdalena valley
 Blue-billed Curassow
Rainforest Trust Conservation Director

Rainforest Trust and our partner, ProAves Colombia, together with the support of American Bird Conservancy, Earth’s Birthday, Luanne Lemmer, and The Rainforest Site announce that six strategic private properties have been acquired from loggers to double the size of the Paujil Nature Reserve and protect an additional 3,356 acres of lowland tropical rainforest in the Magdalena valley of Colombia.

The 700 mile-long Magdalena river basin once held a lush carpet of lowland rainforest encircled by the mighty Central and Eastern Cordillera mountain ranges. This isolated rainforest have been a biological melting pot, influenced by the flora and fauna from neighboring regions like the Amazon that has given rise to a rich assemblage of biodiversity with an exceptional diversity of endemic flora and fauna, like the Blue-billed Curassow (Crax alberti) and Magdalena Spider Monkey (Ateles hybridus). Tragically, intensive colonization across the region continues unabated and has resulted in the elimination of nearly 10 million acres for ranching, coca plantations and other activities, while many of the region’s endemic species are now critically endangered.

The Serranía de las Quinchas, on the border between the Boyacá and Santander departments and located just 85 miles north of the capital Bogotá, represents one of the last opportunities to safeguard a critical area of Magdalena valley rainforest. In 2003, ProAves acquired a number of properties to consolidate the 3,678-acre El Paujil Nature reserve–the first protected area of Magdalena lowland rainforest. The site was declared an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site in 2005 as it held the population stronghold for the Blue-billed Curassow. ProAves also started a threatened species research program and engaged local communities in sustainable development and outreach activities around the reserve. However, forests surrounding the reserve were being clearing to sell timber and establish illicit coca plantations and pasturelands.

Since 2008, we have been working to acquire and protect additional properties from loggers that surround the reserve to ensure viable populations of the most endangered species. In recent months, we are pleased that our partner ProAves Colombia has completed the acquisition of six strategic private properties totaling 3,356 acres, from loggers and coca farmers, to almost double the size of the Paujil Nature Reserve. The expanded reserve includes over 400 acres of pasturelands requiring reforestation as well as some of the most intact primary forest surviving in the Magdalena valley of Colombia. Today, the Paujil Nature Reserve is now 6,935 acres and protects in perpetuity over 100 pairs of the Critically Endangered Blue-billed Curassow as well as stronghold populations of the Magdalena Spider Monkey, Jaguar, Spectacled Bear and extremely rare Magdalena race of the Lowland Tapir (Tapirus terrestris columbianus).

Many thanks to our donors that contributed to the Magdalena rainforest appeal and also a special thanks to the support of Luanne Lemmer, American Bird Conservancy, Earth’s Birthday, and The Rainforest Site.

Rainforest Trust will continue to support our partner buying and saving critical rainforest properties around the Paujil Nature Reserve to ensure long-term viable populations of the endangered species. For more information on the appeal, click here.

Rainforest Trust Helps Save 1 Million Acres of Amazon Rainforest in Peru

Goeldis Marmoset by Alexandre Buisse
Matses Indigenous people

Rainforest Trust and our partner CEDIA (Center for the Development of the Indigenous Amazonians) are proud to announce that on August 27, 2009, the Matsés National Reserve was designated by the Peruvian national government. The reserve encompasses 1,039,390 acres of pristine Amazonian rainforest and is home to the Matsés indigenous people along with numerous plant and animal species. This is a long awaited triumph for saving the Amazonian rainforests, which has been sought for 13 years by CEDIA, working with the Matsés peoples and providing technical assistance to the government Park Service (SEMARNAP).

During much of this time, Rainforest Trust has been the principal financing source for CEDIAs efforts with the Matsés, supporting community work and provision of technical assistance to the government in an effort to save this precious area of the Amazon. During those 13 years, we have overcome numerous challenges including illegal logging operations that delayed the creation of Matsés national Reserve in Loreto Department of northeastern Peru.

The Reserve was designated for its exceptional biodiversity values and to protect lands traditionally used by the Matsés indigenous peoples who were first contacted in 1969 but presently live on their adjacent community lands. Like so many other remote indigenous peoples, they have been forced to defend their homelands in a bid to preserve their ancient way of life and protect the amazing Amazon rainforest. During a two-week biological exploration of the area in late 2004, a Rapid Biological Inventories team from Chicago’s Field Museum recorded 65 species of mammal and 416 species of bird, plus an estimated 3,000-4,000 plant species. Two rare and endangered monkey species, the Bald Uakari Cacajao calvus and the tiny Goeldi’s Marmoset Callimico goeldii (photo top right), were also recorded.

The proposed reserve area includes an archipelago of white-sand forests that contains floral and faunal endemics and represents a rare habitat in the Amazon. Overall, the region has an extraordinary diversity of plants and animals. Thanks to the perseverance of CEDIA and the commitment of the Matsés communities, the National Reserve was finally declared by the Peruvian Natural Protected Area Service (SERNANP) and the Ministry of Environment.

We wish to extend our sincere thanks to SERNANP and Peruvian Ministry of Environment for this declaration. We also thank the support of our many individual donors and the Blue Moon Foundation and Wild Waters Foundation that lent important support as well. We will continue to seek support for CEDIA’s work to help administer and manage the new National Reserve as well as support the community to develop alternative income-producing activities including extraction of non-timber forest products and improved artisan crafts.

CEDIA is a successful Peruvian non-profit group that works to establish and support both protected and community areas for the indigenous peoples of Peru’s Amazon. Your contributions are vital to help Rainforest Trust assist CEDIA and similar groups to save many more acres of rainforest while they are still standing. Thank you for your support saving the Amazon. Click here to download the state declaration of the Matsés National Reserve (PDF). Click here to see a map of the newly declared Matsés National Reserve.


A Brighter Future for Some of the Most Endangered Dry Forest Species

Cucarachero del Chicamocha
Chicamocha Cavanillesia tree
Cucarachero del Chicamocha Nature Reserve

Thanks to our donors we have just helped acquire and protect 3,215 acres of unique dry forest that represents the first protected area for many critically endangered plant and animal species, including the Niceforo’s Wren with only 50 surviving individuals.

Rainforest Trust has supported our Colombian partner, Fundacion ProAves to take a significant step forward towards protecting the endangered flora and fauna restricted to the last remnants of dry forest in the Chicamocha Valley of the eastern Andes of Colombia.

The purchase of 3,215 acres of vital remaining dry forest habitat–some of the highest quality remaining forest of this type in the entire region–has resulted in the creation of a new reserve that constitutes the first ever protection for many endangered species, including the Critically Endangered Niceforo’s Wren along with many endemic flora and fauna species. This was possible thanks to the generous support of Rainforest Trust donors, especially Luanne Lemmer and Eric Veach, and American Bird Conservancy.

This extraordinary ecosystem is completely unprotected, despite high levels of endemism in birds, reptiles, and flora in the Chicamocha valley. As a consequence of intense seasonal burning and grazing from goats and cattle, unfortunately very little vegetation remains in a natural state. For example, the endemic and attractive Chicamocha Cavanillesia tree (Cavanillesia chicamochae) is Critically Endangered and the new reserve is a stronghold for the Endangered Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird.

Intensive surveys and studies by Fundacion ProAves established that the wren is one of the most imperiled bird species in the world, with a global population of fewer than 25 pairs and a core population of 14 pairs. Rainforest Trust and ProAves acted decisively to acquire the private properties containing the core population and remove over 500 goats and 50 cattle. The new reserve is called the “Cucarachero del Chicamocha Nature Reserve,” named after the local name for Niceforo’s Wren.

“To be able to give an entire ecosystem and its unique assemblege of flora and fauna on the verge of extinction another chance at survival is a thrilling opportunity,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, Rainforest Trust’s Conservation Director. “We are tremendously indebted to our supporters who have made this opportunity a reality, and thank the dedication of our partner ProAves who ensure the success of this fabulous new protected area.”

“We are extremely grateful to the support of Rainforest Trust to allow us to make a tangible difference to saving some of the most threatened flora and fauna in the Americas,” commented Sara Lara, Executive Director of Fundación ProAves, “For the first time we can say that tomorrow holds a brighter future for the Niceforo’s Wren and the many other threatened and endemic animals and plants that share its unique habitat.”

The new reserve, located near the town of Zapatoca, and just one hour from Bucaramanga International airport, is open to visitors to see and learn about this important and spectacular dry forest ecosystem.

For more information on the site and learn how you can support the purchase of additional critical dry forest habitat, go to the project page here.

Click here to see photos of Cucarachero del Chicamocha Nature Reserve.

Thank you again to all our donors who made this a great success.