Key Purchase for Buenaventura Reserve

El Oro Parakeet by Doug Wechsler
Buenaventure Reserve

A key piece of tropical forest has been saved for the Buenaventura Reserve in southwestern Ecuador, thanks in part to efforts by Rainforest Trust. In early December, the 318-acre “Dianita” property was acquired as part of Rainforest Trust efforts to protect the globally endangered El Oro Parakeet, of which less than 1,000 remain.

The addition of this new property to 4,000-acre reserve was the result of joint efforts by Rainforest Trust, Rainforest Trust, American Bird Conservancy, the Danish Ornithological Society, and Robert Wilson. The reserve, which is owned and managed by Rainforest Trust partner Fundación Jocotoco, protects no fewer than 15 globally threatened species, and is the most important single site for the endemic and Endangered El Oro Parakeet and the Ecuadorian Tapaculo.

There are only about 1,000 El Oro Parakeets in the wild, and the reserve is home to about one-fifth of them.

“Fortunately, those numbers have been steadily increasing as a result of a successful conservation campaign that includes the provision of nest boxes to supplement the scarcity of suitable nest-trees,” said Zoltan Waliczky, Jocotoco’s Executive Director.

The Buenaventura Reserve, in the heart of the El Oro Parakeet’s range in southwestern Ecuador, protects the largest remnant patch of a unique ecosystem that combines elements of tropical wet and dry forests. As little as 5% of this forest, which once spanned northern Peru and parts of the Ecuadorian Coast, may now remain. What is left is threatened by ongoing habitat destruction for agriculture and cattle pasture, making the Reserve vital for the conservation of the rare, endemic birds of the region. The Reserve had been separated into two parts, but these are now connected by the Dianita property, making it an extremely important purchase.

The newly acquired land is 70% cattle pasture, and will need to be restored–something that Fundación Jocotoco excels at doing. In the last three years, Jocotoco has planted more than 40,000 trees in Buenaventura Reserve alone, and over 600,000 plants in their network of eight private reserves, thanks to support from Scottish and Southern Energy and the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

In addition to the El Oro Parakeet and Ecuadorian Tapaculo, the Reserve also protects a stronghold site for the endangered Gray-backed Hawk. This species is typically found only in pairs but is commonly observed in greater numbers in the Reserve. Other threatened species of interest are the Rufous-headed Chachalaca, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Red-masked Parakeet, and Pacific Royal Flycatcher. More than 330 species of birds have been recorded at Buenaventura, of which at least 12 are classified as globally threatened; another 34 species are local endemics.

The Reserve also hosts tourists from around the world at the comfortable Umbrellabird Lodge, which is located less than an hour from the airport in Santa Rosa. A well-developed trail system and several bird feeders that attract numerous hummingbirds and songbirds make wildlife observation easy and enjoyable. Buenaventura is part of the Conservation Birding initiative, where any funds spent are reinvested into the operational costs of the reserve, assuring long-term conservation of the exquisite plants and animals found there.

 

264,000 Acres Saved at Ecuador’s Antisana Volcano

Antisana Volcano
Antisana Volcano
Antisana Volcano

Rainforest Trust is proud to announce the protection of 264,382 acres of tropical forests to paramo grasslands across the Antisana Volcano in Ecuador. This is one of the most significant conservation accomplishments in recent decades and comes after years of careful and dedicated work by Rainforest Trust and our partner in Ecuador, Fundación Jocotoco.

“The contiguous 264,382 acre land purchase around Volcan Antisana represents one of the greatest conservation successes ever in the Andes,” noted Dr. Robert Ridgely, Executive Director of Rainforest Trust and a primary driving force behind this success.

Please join us to buy and save more critical tropical habitats and make a real difference.

Antisana is an iconic Ecuadorian volcano standing over 18,700 feet high and made famous by the work there by Alexander von Humboldt. Antisana harbors one of the few remaining true mountain wilderness areas in the Tropical Andes. Surrounding the volcano, just east of Quito, are high-altitude paramo grasslands at 13,000 feet in elevation. These unique highland steppes give way to tropical forests on the Andean slopes that descend into the Amazon basin floor. This enormous but undeveloped area attracted the attention of conservationists in the 1980s, and the Ecuadorian government declared it an ecological reserve in 1993.

Even though the area was declared a reserve on paper, over 80% of the 296,520 acre Antisana Ecological Reserve was still privately owned and managed for cattle. This resulted in conflicts between the actual management of the area and conservation objectives, threatening a number of important species including the Andean Condor, the national bird of Ecuador. For years, conservationists, the private farm (Hacienda) owners, and the Ecuadorian government wanted to resolve these conflicts but were stalled by the enormity of the project.

Nearly 10 years ago, after witnessing the heart-wrenching destruction of a nesting colony of Silvery Grebes, Francisco “Pancho” Sornoza proposed that the Jocotoco Foundation should actively investigate the possibility of protecting Antisana. From then on, Robert Ridgely and Pancho have pushed forward stubbornly to find a way to protect Antisana. In spite of many setbacks along the way, they have achieved success with the help of many new supporters for the idea, some of whom were very unexpected. As Robert Ridgely wrote recently,

“I’ve written a lot about Vólcan Antisana over the past ten years….Looking back over our early proposals, what has actually been accomplished does differ from what we first proposed, but the results are impressive. I am very pleased to report that no less than 264,382 acres around Antisana have been preserved forever. Not only has Rainforest Trust and Fundación Jocotoco been involved, but our initiative has garnered the support of the Ecuadorian government and the municipal government of the City of Quito. Our original plan was to buy out the outstanding land title claims for the vast Antisana Ecological Reserve (239,989 acres) and then to purchase two of the adjoining haciendas (Antisana at 17,710 acres and Contadero Grande at 979 acres). Because of our interest in the Antisana area, and subsequent to the direct intervention of Rafael Correa, the President of Ecuador, Ecuador’s Environmental Ministry was galvanized to purchase the outstanding land titles of the Antisana Ecological Reserve further down on the east slope. In addition, Quito’s municipal water authority moved to purchase Haciendas Antisana and Contadero Grande, a purchase finalized only recently. For Ecuador these two purchases are a very big deal: never before had an Ecuadorian government entity made such a large purchase for conservation purposes. Indeed few such large purchases for conservation have been made by a Latin American government anywhere.”

Thus the Antisana Ecological Reserve is now fully state owned–a huge accomplishment. But several large private farms bordering the western edge of the reserve, including the gateway Hacienda Antisana and Sunfohuayco, were also critical to purchase and protect.

Once again with the support and encouragement of Rainforest Trust and Fundación Jocotoco, the Quito Water Authority (EMAAP) moved to purchase the 17,710-acre Hacienda Antisana and 979-acre Contadero Grande in September 2011. Finally, the last purchase to complete the historic protection of the fragile Antisana ecosystem was completed just last week–the day after Thanksgiving–when Fundación Jocotoco purchased the 5,681-acre Hacienda Sunfohuayco. This last piece of a critical ecological puzzle adds protection for high Andean native paramo grassland and polyepis forest, a move made possible by Rainforest Trust and thanks to the support of The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the Bobolink Foundation, the Blue Moon Fund, and donors like you.

Due to a long history of intensive grazing, Antisana’s ecosystems are significantly degraded, and this affects an important part of the watershed that supplies water to much of Quito. Nonetheless Antisana has outstanding biodiversity values which make it amply worthy of protection.

The goal of Rainforest Trust and Fundación Jocotoco, in collaboration with various actors in Ecuador such as the Ministry of Environment, the Quito Municipality, the Quito Water Authority (EMAAP), the Quito Water Fund (FONAG), and EcoFondo is to begin the process of reversing and correcting the damage to these natural ecosystems and to return Antisana to its former glory. In time Antisana will serve as an example of an accessible but little-disturbed high Andean ecosystem benefitting the citizens of Ecuador and the world at large.

The conservation value of Antisana
Tropical Andean cloud forests such as are found at Antisana are considered the world’s number one biodiversity priority due to their species richness, endemism, and degree of risk; they harbor multitudes of rare and endangered species. On the other hand, the páramo ecosystem, although not as rich in species, harbors many rare and endemic species of fauna and flora which are threatened by grazing and fires.

The acquisitions of these haciendas will help control access to the reserve and will reverse the process of ecosystem degradation by grazing cattle and sheep. It will also help control the illegal hunting of the remaining populations of cougars, Andean wolves, condors, and ibis. The páramo areas have particular importance for biodiversity, including the only main populations of Andean Condor, Silvery Grebe, and Black-faced Ibis in Ecuador. The lakes, marshes, and bogs provide important habitat for both resident and migratory shorebirds as well as many special waterfowl. There are also important populations of big mammals such as Spectacled Bear, Puma, and Andean Wolf.

Antisana is one of the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) sites of Ecuador due to the presence of no less than three species of threatened frogs of the genus Pristimantis.

Overall, this integrated conservation area conserves one of the largest protected gradients in the world, stretching from 3,900 up to 18,875 feet above sea level, critically important in a time of climate change. Importantly, Antisana is connected to two adjacent protected areas, both of them very large: the Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve to the north and the Gran Sumaco National Park to the East. Together with Antisana, this conservation mosaic safeguards 1.8 million acres of critical and biologically diverse Andean and Amazonian ecosystems.

The Antisana project, an unparalleled success years in the making, showcases an exciting and exemplary private-public partnership to purchase and save one of the greatest remaining wilderness areas in the Tropical Andes.

Please join us to buy and save more critical tropical habitats and make a real difference.

Resurgence of Wildlife at Blue-throated Macaw Reserve

Blue-throated Macaw: less than 400 survive
Maned Wolf: IUCN Red Listed
The Beni Savannas: a mosaic wilderness

An island of protected native habitat, purchased and saved by Rainforest Trust donors, in a sea of hunted and overgrazed cattle ranches is like a magnet for wildlife. Our job has been trying to ensure that we can accommodate them all. If last year could be thought of as the year herbivorous mammals discovered the protective advantages of our reserve, this year could be described as the year predators discovered those mammals. Jaguars, pumas, manned wolves, ocelots, jaguarundis, and possible bush dogs all staked claim in the Barba Azul Nature Reserve this year. This is all part of the succession of a natural ecosystem, but many of these mammals need a larger protected range to maintain natural populations.

Barba Azul Nature Reserve now protects 12,300 acres of forest islands, tropical savanna, marshes and a pristine freshwater ecosystem in Bolivia thanks to Rainforest Trust donor support in 2009 and 2010. We are galloping to keep up with natures pace to recuperate. It was glorious to see the tropical savanna flourish without the grazing pressure of 2,000 head of cattle. A diversity of tall grasses covering the landscape offer new breeding spots for the endangered Cock-tailed Tyrant, Black-masked Finch, and Sharp-tailed Tyrant. Pampas Deer, Marsh Deer, and Giant Anteater all becoming abundant in the plentiful grasses. But by the end of 2010, we were well aware the years of tall grass was building up a high fuel load potential for invading fires. All the surrounding cattle ranches yearly burn their grasses for fresh fodder for their cattle. Our protected landscape was now a threat to the savanna but also to the forest islands that are required by the Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaws, the highest concentration of the macaws in the world with 35 to 110 birds using the reserve at any one time.

It took nearly a week to build 47 miles of firebreak surrounding and safely protecting the forest islands and dividing the reserve into 11 fire-safe segments. We dug barriers to basically create a flattened fire break trail, which then could then be easily mowed for long-term maintenance. A fantastic by-product of these priority firebreaks is that they will also serve as easy trails for accessing the complete reserve. The firebreaks will be our base trails, where we can then develop thinner foot trails to more specific habitats. The next step is to plan a patch-burn system to offer a mosaic of grassland habitat in the region and to avoid a build up of dead grass fuel that would burn too hot if ever alight.

There are many steps to taking a functioning cattle ranch and turning it into a sustainable nature reserve. We have completed a field station with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, and storage area. Each bedroom has four bunk beds to accommodate the maximum number of students and researchers. Our runway, which worked just fine for a simple cattle ranch, quickly became an obstacle once we started contracting the best small aircraft pilots in Bolivia for tourist visits. What was good enough for local pilots was in poor shape, in the wrong direction for the prevailing winds, and too short (400 yards) for the safest pilots. We have now completed a level, correctly positioned, and long grass runway (765 yards–7 football fields) to receive the most particular of pilots–which is what we want.

The protection effort is worth it as we see more and more animals take advantage of our safe home. This year we recorded Blue-throated Macaws daily using the different forest islands with seven pairs raising recently fledged juveniles. The threatened Orinoco goose bred at least 30 chicks along our protected Omi river. Small mammal numbers decreased clearly because of higher numbers of feline predators utilizing our hunter-free sanctuary.

This area is the only known site in the world with concentrations of the Blue-throated Macaw. Outside of this rare site, the Blue-throated Macaw survives in isolated pairs on private ranches with hundreds of miles between individuals. It is critical that we can protect as much of this area as possible. We need your help expanding the reserve to ensure the survival of this stunning macaw and to provide greater protection for the Beni’s threatened wildlife.

Click here to donate to help protect this unique reserve.

10,000-mile Bike Ride Benefits Atlantic Forest

Samuel Hagler: riding with purpose
Mr. Hans Swegen, fifth from right
Hope for Paraguay's Atlantic Forest

The acquisition of a 678-acre property in the Paraguayan Atlantic rainforest has been completed by Rainforest Trust partner Association Guyra Paraguay thanks to the support of Ride For The Trees by Samuel Hagler, Peery Foundation, Mr. Hans Swegen, and others. The new protected area, called the Swegen Forest, saves part of the San Rafael National Park that was privately owned by a colonist.

On January 1, 2009, Samuel Hagler set out on an epic journey in an effort to raise awareness about the plight of forests worldwide and to do his part to help protect one of the last remaining fragments of Atlantic Forest. For the next 16 months, Hagler endured countless trials including: bee attacks, extreme cold and heat, robberies, and illness.

“Ride for the Trees” was a 10,000 mile Environmental Bicycle Tour through 14 countries–starting at the San Rafael Reserve in Paraguay and finishing in Arizona in the United States. The more than year long adventure garnered $23,000 in donations from the Peery Foundation and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Hagler’s endurance and commitment have provided important support to the heavily depleted Atlantic Rainforest of Paraguay.

Since 2001, Guyra Paraguay has been buying private lands within San Rafael National Park to secure the future of this important site. By 2010 our partner had purchased 11 properties totaling an area of 16,697 acres. Mr. Swegen recently visited the area, and together with the Cacique Chaparro from Arroyo Moroti, walked in its primary forest. Swegen’s generosity, coupled with funds raised by Hagler during his ride, have led to these critical reserve additions.

The Swegen Forest will now be managed as a “socio-environmental condominium” in a joint agreement between Guyra Paraguay and the Arroyo Moroti indigenous community. The objective of this agreement is to commit both Guyra Paraguay and the indigenous community to protect the 678 acres for biodiversity conservation and protect the ancestral territories of the Mbya People, whereby only traditional uses and practices are allowed.

Rainforest Trust congratulates all involved for their incredible conservation efforts.

New Terrain Protected for Endangered White-footed Tamarin

White-footed Tamarin
Antioquia Reserve
Antioquia Reserve

Our matching appeal to save the Endangered White-footed Tamarin in the lush rainforests of the Caribbean-facing slope of the Colombian Andes far exceeded expectations, thanks to the support of our donors and matching support from Robert Giles, Luanne Lemmer, and Eric Veach. A total of nine properties have been acquired to expand the original “Arrierito Antioqueño Nature Reserve” from 1,773 acres to over 5,300 acres, ensuring that the last relict of this unique habitat is saved.

The Arrierito Antioqueña (local name for the Chestnut-capped Piha) Nature Reserve sits within a melting pot of three overlapping ecoregions that has given rise to a number of endemic species of birds, mammals, butterflies, plants, and amphibians. Two fine examples are the enigmatic White-footed Tamarin and the Chestnut-capped Piha, both highly endangered and dependent on the last vestiges of primary forest now contained within the greatly expanded nature reserve. The site is also the last stronghold for the region’s rainforest biodiversity with 10 endangered amphibian species and 12 endangered bird species, including the spectacular Multicolored Tanager.

The Arrierito Antioqueño Nature Reserve is an important historical cultural center with much evidence of the now extinct Nutabes indigenous peoples and also ruins of a 19th century fort that was a major gold repository that point to an early wave of colonization and environmental exploitation in the region. But it is the area’s unique and highly threatened biodiversity that make the site critical for conservation and is the reason the reserve area is recognized by major international conservation organizations as an Alliance for Zero Extinction site.

Numerous animal and plant species faced the abyss of ecological catastrophe, but today we thank you for generously donating to ensure viable populations can be preserved forever at this very special site. Your critical support has once again made the difference.

If you wish to visit the Arrierito Antioqueño Nature Reserve, with its small but wonderful accommodation lodge, please let us know.

Click here to help fund the ongoing protection of the White-footed Tamarin.

New Protection for Historic Site and Colombian Wildlife

El Dorado
El Dorado
El Dorado

The El Dorado Bird Reserve in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta of Colombia, home to one of the planet’s highest concentrations of endemic and globally threatened birds and amphibians, will grow thanks to land purchases thanks to Rainforest Trust supporters.

 

The newly acquired property, called “Hacienda Vista Nieve” totals over 250 acres of montane forest reaching an elevation of almost 8,000 feet and will be managed by our Colombian partner Fundación ProAves.

 

Hacienda Vista Nieve was established in 1917 by the American Melbourne “Meb” Carriker who was one of South America’s great naturalists of the early 20th century and Colombia’s greatest ornithologist having lived and travelled in Colombia from 1911 until his death in 1965. Meb raised his family of five children on the Vista Nieve coffee farm until 1927. His eldest son, Dr. Melbourne “Mel” R. Carriker (1915-2007), became a distinguished marine biologist and Professor of Marine Studies at the College of Marine Studies, University of Delaware, and wrote the popular book Vista Nieve: The Remarkable True Adventures of an Early Twentieth Century Naturalist and His Family in Colombia, South America recounting his experiences on this remarkable property. Given the expensive ornithological and natural history studies of Vista Nieve for 100 years, the acquisition and protection of its forest has great scientific value.

 

In memory of the tremendous contribution to Neotropical ornithology by Meb Carriker and his family, the new 250 acre acquisition within the El Dorado reserve will be named the “Carriker Sanctuary.”

 

The El Dorado Reserve now protects a total of 1,928 acres of one of the most important and under-protected ecosystems on the planet. It is home to an extraordinary bird diversity totaling 300 species, including three–-Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Bush Tyrant and Santa Marta Sabrewing–that are Endangered under IUCN-World Conservation Union criteria and have their entire or major stronghold population here. The presence of these species establishes the reserve as an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site, among the world’s highest priorities for conservation. Other threatened birds found in the reserve include: Black-fronted Wood Quail, Santa Marta Screech-owl, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Blossomcrown, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Santa Marta Antpitta, Cerulean Warbler, and Santa Marta Warbler.

 

The El Dorado reserve lies within 14,000 acres of subtropical to montane forest and pasturelands on an isolated ridge of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta massif with only one-eighth of the area being currently protected. This narrow exposed ridge is a major catchment for humid onshore winds in an otherwise dry to arid region and feeds two major watersheds that supply over 800,000 people in the Caribbean coastal city and resorts of Santa Marta.

 

This Reserve, which is owned and managed by Fundación ProAves, was established in 2005. The reserve has excellent ecotourism facilities and an Eco-Lodge. To visit this spectacular reserve contact EcoTurs Colombia or email info@ecoturs.org.

Dr. Robert Ridgely Earns Prestigious Conservation Award

Dr, Ridgely
Grallaria ridgelyi: Antpitta named for Dr. Ridgely

Rainforest Trust President Dr. Robert Ridgely was recently given the Ralph W. Schreiber Conservation Award by the American Ornithologists’ Union. The award honors extraordinary scientific contributions in the field of conservation, restoration, and preservation of birds and their habitats by an individual.

The award, consisting of a framed certificate and honorarium, was presented at the AOU’s annual banquet in Jacksonville, Florida.

Dr. Ridgely is a leading expert on the birds of South America and a proponent of private reserve systems as a conservation strategy for endangered tropical bird species. Previously, he served as Director of International Conservation at National Audubon Society and of the Center for Neotropical Ornithology at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. He is an ornithologist and the author of many important books on Neotropical birds, including the acclaimed Birds of South America (vols. 1 and 2), Birds of Ecuador, and Birds of Panama.

A true conservationist, Dr. Ridgely very generously donated his award stipend to Rainforest Trust in support of future land purchases in Ecuador.

The award is funded by an endowment from Ralph W. Schreiber, a prominent figure in the AOU known for his enthusiasm, energy, and dedication to research and conservation, particularly of seabirds. Previous awardees are listed on the AOU website.

Dr. Ridgely has worked tirelessly for decades in the pursuit of lasting conservation. A noted author and conservationist, Robert serves as Deputy Director of Rainforest Trust and is the founder and Board Chairman of the Jocotoco Foundation in Ecuador.

Previously, he received the Eisenmann Medal from the Linnaean Society of New York.

The Rainforest Trust team congratulates him on yet another in a long line of brilliant successes.

Elusive Mammal Rediscovered in Colombia After 113 Years

Santa Marta Toro by Lizzie Noble
El Dorado Reserve
Santa Marta Toro

A member of an elusive rodent species, missing since 1898, took researchers by surprise by coming to the doorstep of the El Dorado Nature Reserve Ecolodge in northwestern Colombia two weeks ago. The spectacular Santa Marta Toro, also known as the Santa Marta Tree Rat (Santamartyamys rufodorsalis) happily posed for nearly two hours as amateur naturalists took the very first photographs of this fuzzy creature, once thought to be extinct.

The charming nocturnal rodent made his re-debut to the world at 9:30 PM on May 4, 2011, at ProAves El Dorado Nature Reserve. The reserve was established in 2005 by Fundación ProAves with the support of Rainforest Trust, American Bird Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, Fundación Loro Parque, and Conservation International.

The animal was rediscovered by Lizzie Noble and Simon McKeown–two volunteer researchers with ProAves monitoring endangered amphibians. It posed for photographs including close-ups before calmly proceeding back to the forest.

“He just shuffled up the handrail near where we were sitting and seemed totally unperturbed by all the excitement he was causing. We are absolutely delighted to have rediscovered such a wonderful creature after just a month of volunteering with ProAves. Clearly the El Dorado Reserve has many more exciting discoveries waiting,” said Lizzie Noble from Godalming, England.

“The El Dorado Nature Reserve represents the ultimate Noah’s Ark, protecting the last populations of many critically endangered and endemic flora and fauna; a living treasure trove like no other on earth,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, the scientist from the Rainforest Trust who confirmed the identity of the species.

Hear National Public Radio’s interview with Lizzie Noble and Paul Salaman.

The Santa Marta Toro will now likely be designated as Critically Endangered under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Species criteria. What is most concerning, however, is that much of the tree rat’s potential remaining range is inundated with introduced feral cats that prey on native fauna.

The discovery opens a new chapter in the history of a mammal thought by many to be extinct.

In 2005, Dr. Louise Emmons of the Smithsonian Institution examined the only two specimens of the Santa Marta Toro that exist–specimens that had been collected more than a century ago. She identified a number of unique characteristics and assigned the species to its own genus Santamartamys. It is 18 inches long from head to the tip of the tail and is distinguished by a mane-like band of reddish fur around its neck and a black and white tail.

“Had we not worked with our partners to establish this reserve, it is reasonable to believe this species would still remain something that was only talked about in science journals. Now we need to work with our partners to take steps to see that this species continues to be a part of our world,” said George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy.

“We are so proud that our El Dorado Nature Reserve has provided a safe haven for this enigmatic little guy to survive. The discovery exemplifies why we buy forested properties known to be important for endangered wildlife yet at imminent risk of being destroyed. We are also proud that our volunteers made the discovery of the decade and hope future ecotourists will see the mammal at the reserve,” said Lina Daza, Executive Director of ProAves.

The 2,000-acre El Dorado reserve is named after the legendary lost city of gold and is internationally known as a unique destination for ecotourists. It is situated in cloud forests at 5,900 feet, just two hours’ drive from the coastal tourist city of Santa Marta. The reserve and adjacent lands host the highest concentration of continental, range-restricted bird species found anywhere in the world, including the endangered Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, and Santa Marta Sabrewing, all of which have their entire or major stronghold populations there. It also holds one of the highest concentrations of endemic and threatened amphibian species in the world. The reserve is listed as an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site, establishing it among the world’s highest priorities for conservation, yet remarkably little is known about the area.

“This discovery marks the beginning of a major effort to save the Santa Marta Toro and heralds the start of a global initiative in search of lost mammal species,” said Salaman.

Click here to donate to help protect the rare species of El Dorado.

Rainforest Trust Receives Third Consecutive 4 Star Rating from Charity Navigator

We are proud to report that for the third year in a row, Rainforest Trust has earned Charity Navigator’s coveted 4-STAR RATING for being one of the most efficient conservation nonprofits in the US.

Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest and most relied-upon charity evaluator, closely examines the fiscal operations of thousands of charities annually to determine their financial soundness.

Over 96% of our budget is spent on direct conservation action–a percentage that few conservation organizations in the US can boast.

In awarding Rainforest Trust this honor, Charity Navigator President Ken Berger said:

“Only 13% of the charities we rate have received at least 3 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Rainforest Trust consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way and outperforms most other charities in America. This ‘exceptional’ designation from Charity Navigator differentiates Rainforest Trust from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.”

Since our founding in 1988, we have prided ourselves on making Rainforest Trust one of the most efficient and effective conservation organizations in operation. Over the past 21 years we have protected 1.7 million acres for biodiversity conservation, while maintaining an extraordinarily low overhead. In fact, in 2010, only 3% of our budget was spent on fundraising and administrative expenses or other overhead costs.

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 addressing the most urgent priorities, all for the best possible price.

“We’re proud that once again Rainforest Trust has been singled-out by Charity Navigator for both its fiscal responsibility and its role as one of the most efficient actors on behalf of rainforests and critical habitat for endangered species,” said Rainforest Trust’ Executive Director, Byron Swift.

To view the full Charity Navigator review, click here.

Thank you for your continued support of our efficient, effective conservation programs.

Spectacular Wildlife Habitat Bought and Saved in Peru

Manu Biosphere Reserve
Manu Biosphere Reserve
Manu Biosphere Reserve

A catalytic small grant by Rainforest Trust, and support from American Bird Conservancy, has helped the Amazon Conservation Association purchase and protect a 7,427-acre property called Hacienda Villa Carmen–an incredibly rich rainforest site at the headwaters of the Amazon River in Peru. This newly protected area lies within the 4.7-million acre Manu Biosphere Reserve, a mixture of private and public lands that stretches over a vast swath of pristine forest in the southwest of that country .

The large Villa Carmen property is bordered by the Pini Pini and Tono rivers and has an elevational gradient that stretches between 1,500 and 3,500 feet. This diverse habitat is renowned for its species richness, with particularly high populations of birds, butterfiles, and mammals.

The new protected area will be managed by the Peruvian NGO, the Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA).

“A large amount of the rainforest at risk of destruction in Latin America lies in private hands,” said Rainforest Trust Executive Director Byron Swift. “With this new purchase we’ve shown once again the power of land purchase as a strategy for biodiversity conservation.”

Thank you for supporting our critical conservation programs.