Rainforest Trust CEO Joins Council for Amphibian Protection

Paul 1         Dr. Salaman with Golden Poison Frog
Paul 2Golden Poison Frog
Paul 3Williams bright-eyed frog © Miguel Vences

On December 17, 2013, Rainforest Trust CEO, Dr. Paul Salaman, joined the Amphibian Survival Alliance’s (ASA) Global Council. The ASA, formed in 2009, is the world’s largest partnership for amphibian conservation and was established in response to the decline of frogs, salamanders and caecilians worldwide. Salaman will join the ranks of 20 world-renowned amphibian experts, both scientists and conservationists, which comprise the Global Council. The Council meets annually and is responsible for developing strategy and prioritizing programmatic actions for the ASA.

“Being elected to the Global Council is a wonderful honor. It’s also a great opportunity to raise public awareness about the state of amphibians, encourage others to act, and share knowledge and experience with leaders in the field. By closely coordinating our efforts with the ASA, we can improve amphibian conservation, which is vitally important for the future survival of many species,” said Salaman.

Salaman was elected to the Global Council as a result of his leading role in amphibian conservation, which dates back to 2003. At that time, he coordinated the Global Amphibian Assessment’s Tropical Andes Workshop, which included the participation of Conservation International (CI), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and 30 regional experts. Since then, Salaman has led Rainforest Trust in the establishment of several critical reserves specifically designed to protect amphibians, including the Golden Poison Dart Frog Reserve in Colombia and the Sierra Caral Reserve in Guatemala. Rainforest Trust has also protected areas in El Dorado, Colombia; Antisanilla, Ecuador; and Serra Bonita, Brazil that play a significant role in the survival of threatened amphibians.

“Endangered amphibians can survive in small watersheds, and Rainforest Trust has had great success throughout the tropics in protecting these areas through land acquisition. Saving these strongholds, which are sometimes only a few thousand acres in size, clearly overlaps with ASA’s mission and makes us natural partners,” he added.

Conservation Success in Bolivia

Blue-throated Macaws © E. Gustavo Sánchez Avila
Maned Wolf © Valter Kruk
Collard AnteaterCollard Anteater © E. Gustavo Sánchez Avila

On December 30, 2013, our Bolivian partner secured the purchase of
14,827 acres of natural savanna and forest habitat that will more than double the size of the Blue-throated Macaw Reserve to 27,180 acres.

The extension by Asociación Armonía is significant because it will protect a mosaic of tropical grasslands, including the addition of two large palm forest islands, a small central river, water edge short grass habitat, and over 20 small isolated palm islands. An extension of this size means that the Blue-throated Macaw Reserve can now adequately support landscape species which require large protected home ranges, such as Jaguars, Pumas, and Maned Wolves.

The extension of the Blue-throated Macaw Reserve improves its ability to protect the 27 species of medium and large mammals that depend on this protected habitat, including the ‘Vulnerable to Extinction’ Giant Anteater and Marsh Deer, as well as many of the threatened mammals such as Maned Wolf, Jaguar, Puma, Pampas Deer, White-collared Peccary and Capybara. The Omi River in the Blue-throated Macaw Reserve is the only year round water source for a massive area, where many mammals depend on this clean water through the dry season.

Over 250 bird species frequent the Blue-throated Macaw Reserve; the most imperiled being the ‘Critically Endangered’ Blue-throated Macaw. The additional protection of two large forest islands will ensure food resources for the flocks of Blue-throated Macaws, while the smaller forest islands will protect remote roosting sites.

The Beni tropical savanna is an area twice the size of Portugal and almost entirely ranched, with yearly massive burns to clear the way for cattle. It is a land of extreme contrasts with intensive flooding in the summer, and months of drought in the winter. The Beni savanna is considered an ‘Endangered Critical’ ecosystem yet the Blue-throated Macaw Reserve is the only protected area in this ecosystem without cattle impact and annual grassland burning. The Beni has undergone hundreds of years of logging, hunting and cattle ranching. Overgrazing, annual burning and the planting of exotic grass species have greatly altered the ecosystem.

Asociación Armonía is developing tourism to sustainably manage the Blue-throated Macaw Reserve in the future.

Supporters with Rainforest Trust included World Land Trust, GreaterGood/The Rainforest Site, American Bird Conservancy, International Conservation Fund of Canada, IUCN Netherlands, and Loro Parque Fundación.

Buenaventura Grows by 600 Acres

el_oro_parakeet2  El Oro Parakeet
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan - Copy Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Coati de Nariz blanca - Copy Coati family 

Thanks to help from Rainforest Trust, our Ecuadorian partner, Jocotoco, has purchased 600 acres to expand its Buenaventura Reserve. The expansion, which will increase the reserve to a total of 4,600 acres, contains 400 acres of pristine cloud forest and will provide habitat for a multitude of threatened wildlife.

Among the 15 endangered bird species found in the reserve are the El Oro Parakeet and the Ecuadorian Tapaculo. The few dozen surviving Ecuadorian Tapaculos depend on the reserve for their survival. Likewise, nearly two-thirds of the world’s last 800 El Oro Parakeets take refuge in Buenaventura.

“We are encouraged that this reserve is now protecting a substantial portion of the global population of the El Oro Parakeet,” said Rocío Merino, Executive Director of Jocotoco. “We must now ensure the protection of surrounding landscapes that are frequently used by bird species from a unique combination of Chocó, Tumbes, and western Andean regions within the reserve. Working with surrounding communities of El Placer and Moromoro, including private landowners and municipalities, will be key to our long-term success.”

The reserve protects one of the largest tracts of cloud forest remaining in southwestern Ecuador, and has gained renown as the premier birding site in the region.

Many species, found nowhere else in Ecuador’s protected area system, live in the reserve. Over 330 bird species – including 31 hummingbirds – have been recorded at Buenaventura; 34 species are endemic to the area.

“Expanding the Buenaventura Reserve is an urgent conservation priority as the future of the El Oro Parakeet and the Ecuadorian Tapaculo depend tremendously upon the existence of the reserve and the forests it protects,” said Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust. “This significant expansion of the reserve is a great conservation victory that’s going to result in a stronger, more effective sanctuary for wildlife in Ecuador.”

Since its creation in 1999, the reserve has steadily grown in size. Rainforest Trust has supported the purchase of 4,025 acres.

This project was made possible with support from the American Bird Conservancy, Dansk Ornitologisk Forening, and the International Conservation Fund of Canada.

Update: Rainforest Trust President, Dr. Robert Ridgely, and CEO, Dr. Paul Salaman, will be leading a conservation tour to Ecuador in 2014 that will visit the Buenaventura Reserve. To learn more about the tour, which will take place March 12-22, and include visits to the Tapichalaca and Jorupe reserves, please contact us.

News Release: Dr. Thomas Lovejoy Joins Board of Directors

Lovejoy 1Lovejoy in the field
Lovejoy 2Biodiversity Chair at George Mason University
parque madidi Bolivian “debt-for-nature” swap

Rainforest Trust Names Leading Conservationist Dr. Thomas Lovejoy to Board of Directors

WARRENTON, VA – DECEMBER 4, 2013 — Rainforest Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization focused on protecting threatened tropical lands and saving endangered species, announced today the appointment of Dr. Thomas Lovejoy to its Board of Directors. Dr. Lovejoy is an internationally renowned conservation biologist and a leader in making the protection of tropical rainforests a public issue.

Dr. Lovejoy, who introduced the term “biological diversity” to the scientific community in 1980, has worked in the Amazon of Brazil for nearly 50 years. An influential force for conservation in many roles, he has served as chief biodiversity adviser to the President of the World Bank; chair of the Independent Advisory Group on Sustainability for the Inter-American Development Bank; senior adviser to the President of the United Nations Foundation; executive vice president at World Wildlife Fund-U.S; and Assistant Secretary for Environmental and External Affairs for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Currently, Dr. Lovejoy serves as the first biodiversity chair of the Heinz Center for Science, University Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University.

“Tom Lovejoy is one of the world’s leading voices and experts on tropical biodiversity and the most influential advocate for the protection of Amazon Basin ecosystems. We are honored and thrilled to have him on the Board of Rainforest Trust,” said Dr. Robert Ridgely, President of Rainforest Trust. “Dr. Lovejoy understands Rainforest Trust’s mission and our conservation model, and we look forward to benefitting from his guidance and extraordinary experience as our organization embarks on important conservation projects in the Amazon, Borneo, the Philippines and Madagascar.”

Dr. Lovejoy is also known for developing the innovative concept of “debt-for-nature” swaps, in which a portion of a developing nation’s foreign debt is forgiven in exchange for local investments in environmental conservation measures. This innovation alone has made billions in conservation funds available in countries ranging from Bolivia to Madagascar. Dr. Lovejoy’s contributions to conservation biology have earned him numerous awards and citations, including the Blue Planet Prize 2012. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. in biology from Yale University.

He joins Rainforest Trust’s board at a time of exciting change for the organization, which is entering its 25th year. In addition, Rainforest Trust recently announced the launch of a major new project to save 5.9 million acres in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon’s last true wilderness. Importantly, the project – which has a fundraising goal of $2.9 million – will protect several uncontacted indigenous tribes.

To donate or learn more about Rainforest Trust, visit https://www.rainforesttrust.org/donation-options/ways-to-give.

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