Rainforest Trust Awards Mapping Grant

Restored forest, REGUA
Encroaching development
REGUA’s protected forest

With development from the nearby city of Rio de Janeiro quickly expanding into the Guapiaçu Valley, Rainforest Trust awarded its Brazilian partner, REGUA, a $10,000 grant to map and study lands surrounding the organization’s rainforest reserve. The two-year grant will allow REGUA to determine vegetation cover and identify property lines within the entire 186-square-mile Guapiaçu Valley. With map-mapping efforts complete, REGUA will be in a position to effectively prioritize land purchases thus improving its ability to create wildlife corridors and protect the Atlantic Rainforest’s vanishing biodiversity.

“The map will be a valuable tool to help us build a portfolio of properties that will support the REGUA master plan, leaving a legacy of 80-85% of protected forest cover [in the Guapiaçu Valley] and contributing towards the perpetual safety of biodiversity in the Atlantic Rainforest,” said Nicholas Locke, REGUA’s project manager.

Construction from the prosperous city of Rio de Janeiro is rapidly moving up the Guapiaçu Valley as the temptation to build second homes in the beautiful valley proves irresistible to the city’s wealthier citizens. In 2011, the already attractive Guapiaçu Valley became even more so with the paving of a dirt road which significantly cut travel time from the city.

The Guapiaçu Valley, home to many threatened rainforest species, extends over an area of 74,000 acres. Locke estimates that 56% of the valley still has good forest cover. To date, REGUA has bought and protected nearly 20,000 acres covering approximately 25% of the Guapiaçu Valley. Since 2007, Rainforest Trust has partnered with REGUA to protect nearly 700 acres of Atlantic rainforest. Projects to protect more are currently underway.

The opportunity for REGUA to expand rainforest protection is due, in large part, to broad economic changes in Brazil. Until recently, the rural economy in the Rio de Janeiro State followed a pattern of destructive development based upon logging and banana production. This model began to falter, however, during the last decades of the 20th century as Brazil became increasingly industrialized and farmers migrated to cities. Simultaneously, banana plantations in the Guapiaçu Valley disappeared as the industry moved on to new, more lucrative areas. Hillside properties abandoned in the wake of these changes have allowed REGUA to continue growing its borders.

“Though REGUA’s acquisitions already contribute to the protection of the Atlantic Rainforest in a significant way, we wish for more,” Locke said. “If it’s possible to achieve 80-85% forest cover, why shouldn’t we continue to try to acquire more land?”

Successful Start for Borneo Appeal

Young Orangutan © HUTAN
Pygmy Elephant © HUTAN
Proboscis Monkey © HUTAN

Rainforest Trust and World Land Trust (based in the UK) kicked off a joint Borneo campaign with a pledge drive that raised a total of $ 1,027,870 to protect habitat for the Pacific island’s endangered orangutan and pygmy elephant populations.

With a generous 1:1 match from donors in the UK, Rainforest Trust supporters provided strong support for the appeal. The impressive response placed Rainforest Trust and World Land Trust close to their collective goal of raising $1.5 million for the campaign. Once complete, the project will create a wildlife corridor between two existing wildlife reserves that will significantly improve habitat for pygmy elephants and orangutans by providing them with a safe riverside passage between protected areas.

“The urgency of this mission resonated strongly with many of our supporters and resulted in a fantastic start to the campaign. In fact, this was one of the most successful matching campaigns we’ve ever had. It’s given us good momentum towards reaching our funding goal in a timely manner, which is important considering the speed at which land is being developed in Borneo” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust.

Colombia’s Las Tangaras Reserve Grows

Las Tangaras Reserve Las Tangaras Reserve © ProAves
Black and gold Tanager Black-and-gold Tanager © ProAves
Toucan barbet
Toucan Barbet © ProAves

Working with its Colombian partner ProAves, Rainforest Trust has secured the purchase of two properties totaling 3,117 acres that will be added to the Las Tangaras Reserve. The purchase of these properties will significantly expand the reserve and provide improved protection for the many threatened and endemic species found within its borders.

The Las Tangaras Reserve protects a key portion of Colombia’s Chocó rainforest. Although this rainforest has received only scarce study, findings show it holds some of the highest concentrations of endemic species in the world. This includes not only amphibians, mammals, and plants, but also birds.

For the Gold-ringed Tanager, which is known to inhabit only five locations along the ridge tops of Colombia’s western Andes, Las Tangaras is one of its last strongholds. The reserve also protects habitat for the Black-and-gold Tanager and the Chocó Vireo, which has been found in only three areas.

Despite its impressive biodiversity, the Chocó rainforest is quickly disappearing. Logging, gold-mining, and cattle production have all destroyed large areas of the forest. Compounding the problem is the fact that this rainforest is severely under protected and that there are no controls in place to slow or stop widespread colonization.

As the region’s population has increased, so has the price of land. With prices climbing, the necessity of acting quickly to purchase lands has become imperative. After ProAves identified an area home to 50 Gold-ringed Tanager pairs in 2009, Rainforest Trust helped secure the purchase of the 5,500-acre site the following year, and the Las Tangaras Reserve was officially created in March of 2012. The recent purchase of 3,117 acres, which will help protect a critical watershed in the Chocó, increases the reserve’s total size to 7,977 acres.


Expansion of the Serra Bonita Reserve

Serra Bonita News 3
Serra Bonita Mountain Range
Serra Bonita News 2Yellow-breasted Capuchin
Serra Bonita News 1
Dr. Vitor Becker

October 4, 2013

Rainforest Trust has supported our Brazilian partner, Instituto Uiraçu, to purchase two properties that have expanded Brazil’s Serra Bonita Reserve by 237 acres. The new properties will enlarge the reserve’s total size to 5,737 acres, and will provide protection for six rare bird species, as well as the Yellow-breasted Capuchin, a critically endangered primate known to inhabit only a handful of protected areas.

Located in the Serra Bonita Mountain Range, in the Brazilian state of Bahia, the reserve protects one of the last intact remnants of the Atlantic Rainforest. This rainforest, considered to be second most endangered biome in the world (Madagascar is number one), is also one of the most biodiverse.

“This area has a very high level of diversity, comparable to the Amazon Basin, or maybe even more. At Serra Bonita we’ve counted 350 species of birds, 120 species of orchids, and over 70 species of frogs, some of them new to science,” said Dr. Vitor Becker, Director of Research at Instituto Uiraçu.

“The more we learn about this unique site, the more we realize it’s worth protecting. As the Atlantic Rainforest continues to be destroyed, the importance of acting now to save Serra Bonita grows. Rainforest Trust is proud to work with Instituto Uiraçu to ensure that the Serra Bonita Reserve, and the many endangered species it contains, receives the protection it deserves,” noted Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust. “In the future, we will continue working with Instituto Uiraçu to strategically expand the reserve even more.”

Despite its spectacular biodiversity, 93% of the Atlantic Rainforest has been destroyed during the last 100 years. The consequences have been devastating for the region’s many endemic species. Populations of the Yellow-breasted capuchin have declined more than 80% in the last 50 years; now only 300 remain in the wild. Northern brown howler monkeys, another critically endangered primate found at Serra Bonita, have fared even worse. Only 40 of these primates survive today.

Much of the forest within the Serra Bonita Reserve remains in a pristine state, and its protection has allowed local wildlife to bounce back. Pumas, among other species, have returned to the area, with frequent sightings reported in recent years.

The resurgence of these species has provided Becker with increased motivation to expand the Serra Bonita Reserve. “We already own one-third of the Serra Bonita Mountain, and my dream, my goal, is to preserve the whole thing. Luckily, a lot of it is still in a good condition to be protected,” Becker said. “There aren’t many institutions that aid in land purchase, so the support of Rainforest Trust is vital to the expansion of the reserve.”

These land purchases were made possible due to the generous support of donors, especially Luanne Lemmer, Eric Veach, and The Orchid Conservation Alliance. Additional support was provided by the American Bird Conservancy.

To see more of Dr. Becker’s interview click here.

News Release: Borneo Project Announced

Borneo News Pic 1
Pygmy Elephant ©HUTAN Marc Ancrenaz
Borneo News Pic 3Orangutan ©HUTAN Daisah Bin Kapar
Borneo News Pic 2Proboscis Monkey ©HUTAN Jamil Sinyor

Rainforest Trust Announces Sir David Attenborough Supports $1.5 Million Appeal to Save Orangutan and Pygmy Elephant Habitat in Borneo

Donated funds will buy private land to create a vital rainforest corridor in an area facing massive habitat loss

WARRENTON, VA – OCTOBER 3, 2013Rainforest Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization focused on protecting threatened tropical lands and saving endangered species, announced today that Sir David Attenborough, the world’s leading natural history filmmaker, has thrown his support behind the joint Rainforest Trust and World Land Trust campaign to raise $1.5 million to secure rainforest habitat vital for the survival of the endangered Bornean orangutan and pygmy elephant.

Donated funds will be used to purchase private properties to establish a permanent rainforest corridor reconnecting patches of rainforest that have become fragmented due to extensive logging and intensive cultivation. Once complete, the corridor will enable orangutans and pygmy elephants to again roam the forest of the north bank of the Kinabatangan River, one of Malaysia’s most beautiful rainforest wetland areas.

“Every bit of the rainforest that is knocked down is less space for orangutans. They have been reduced very seriously in the past decade, and we must do all we can to reverse this devastation,” explained Sir David.

From October 2 to 16, 2013, all donations to the Borneo Rainforest Appeal will be matched by donor pledges at World Land Trust in the UK for up to $750,000, making contributions from individuals and corporations go twice as far.

“Borneo’s orangutans and pygmy elephants are losing their rainforests at an alarming rate, as the booming palm oil sector is snapping up private properties to create vast oil palm plantations,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust. “The remaining strongholds must be protected through land purchase. In Borneo, even relatively small parcels of land can be a lifeline for orangutans so long as they link together protected forests enabling animals to move safely over greater distances.”

Every dollar raised in this campaign will allow Rainforest Trust’s partner in Borneo to buy vital private properties to create the “Keruak Corridor” that will permanently connect two protected areas, the Keruak Forest Reserve and the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Despite massive loss of habitat, the Kinabatangan district remains a bastion for biodiversity. Of 222 mammal species found here, there are 10 species of primate, including proboscis monkeys, along with large populations of approximately 1,000 orangutan and 300 Bornean pygmy elephants. Orangutans and pygmy elephants are considered keystone species, playing a critical role in maintaining the structure and health of the rainforests in Borneo.

To donate to the Borneo Rainforest Appeal, visit https://www.rainforesttrust.org/donations-borneo/.

For more information about Rainforest Trust, visit https://www.rainforesttrust.org/.

About Rainforest Trust
Rainforest Trust, formerly World Land Trust-US, is a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving rainforest and endangered species. Since its founding in 1988, Rainforest Trust has saved more than 7 million acres of rainforests and other tropical habitats in 67 projects across 17 tropical countries. The nonprofit purchases and protects threatened land by forming partnerships with local conservation organizations and engaging indigenous communities. Rainforest Trust has been awarded the top four-star Charity Navigator rating for each of the last five years.

Media contacts:

Marc Ford, Rainforest Trust

Marie Gehret, RF|Binder

News Release: 5.9 Million Acre Peru Project Announced

Picture1©Thomas Mueller
Picture2©Thomas Mueller
Picture3©Diego Perez

World Land Trust-US Begins 25th Anniversary Year with
New Conservation Project 
and New Name: Rainforest Trust

Nonprofit conservation organization has saved nearly 8 million acres of rainforest since 1988 –
Kicks off campaign to save 5.9 million acres of jaguar habitat in Amazon rainforest

WARRENTON, VA – SEPTEMBER 30, 2013 – World Land Trust-US, a nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1988, has a new name: Rainforest Trust. The adoption of the new brand, effective today, marks the start of the organization’s 25th anniversary year and the kick-off of a fundraising campaign to save 5.9 million acres of jaguar habitat in the Amazon rainforest of Peru.

Since its founding, Rainforest Trust has focused on purchasing and protecting threatened tropical lands and saving endangered species through partnerships with indigenous communities and local conservation leaders. To date, Rainforest Trust has bought and protected more than 7 million acres of critical rainforest habitat, an area equal to about 10 Yosemite National Parks. It has been awarded the top four-star Charity Navigator rating for each of the last five years.

“Since our founding, we’ve had an unwavering dedication to saving rainforests. As we look to the future, we believe it’s important to have a name that better reflects our mission,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, Chief Executive Officer of Rainforest Trust. “As Rainforest Trust, we remain committed to our mission and to our strategy of working with local conservation leaders and their communities to identify and protect endangered species. Our approach has enabled us to become one of the most cost-effective conservation organizations in the world. With our new descriptive, distinctive name, we will be better positioned to build our base of consumer and corporate donors, and save more rainforests and wildlife.”

In conjunction with the organization’s rebranding, Rainforest Trust is announcing the launch of a major new project to save 5.9 million acres of jaguar, tapir and giant river otter habitat in the Amazon Basin in Peru and, importantly, the project will protect several uncontacted indigenous tribes. The fundraising goal is $2.9 million, with an average cost of less than $1 to protect and save one acre.

“Our latest major rainforest preservation project shows that relatively small sums of money can have a powerful and lasting impact on threatened lands and wildlife,” Dr. Salaman continued. “We work closely with one of Peru’s most successful conservation organizations, CEDIA, to pursue this important initiative. Our largest fundraising campaign to date will save this important area forever.”

The new Rainforest Trust project builds on recent success in the region. Earlier this year, the organization completed funding to preserve 616,000 acres, overturning logging concessions and saving some of the most biologically diverse and pristine areas in the Peruvian Amazon.

“Working across Latin America offers huge benefits. Incredibly pristine places can still be protected for low costs,” continued Salaman. “We’ve been working to purchase the planet’s most threatened tropical habitats, protecting land from exploitation and wildlife from extinction using a network of local partners – experienced conservation leaders – to ensure that these wild places are preserved forever.”

To donate to Rainforest Trust, click here.

About Rainforest Trust

Rainforest Trust is a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving rainforest and endangered species. Since its founding in 1988, Rainforest Trust has saved nearly 8 million acres of rainforests and other tropical habitats in 73 projects across 17 tropical countries. We protect threatened land in partnership with local conservation leaders and indigenous communities. Rainforest Trust has been awarded the top four-star Charity Navigator rating for each of the last five years.

Media contacts:

Marc Ford, Rainforest Trust

Marie Gehret, RF|Binder