A Jungle Story for Threatened Rainforest

ATMTC logo2
RFT logo 300 x 241

March 31, 2014

Rainforest Trust is partnering with Adventure Theatre MTC (ATMTC)  to  educate the public about threats facing rainforests while raising money to help protect threatened species.  ATMTC, based in Glen Echo, Maryland, is producing a stage version of The Jungle Book that will run from April 4 to May 30.

Rainforest Trust employees will be attending opening and closing performances to answer questions about rainforest, and ATMTC will be donating a portion of merchandise proceeds to Rainforest Trust, which will be used to purchase critical wildlife habitat.

“We are thrilled to support ATMTC’s production of The Jungle Book,” said Malissa Cadwallader, Development Director at Rainforest Trust.  “ATMTC’s performance will allow Rainforest Trust the opportunity to reach out to children, students, and their families to raise awareness about the importance of conservation through protecting real rainforest acres and saving endangered wildlife.”

The play, which is recommended for children ages four and up, is based upon Rudyard Kipling’s 19th century classic novel recounting the adventures of the man-cub Mowgli as he learns the Laws of the Jungle.

“Our production of The Jungle Book provided me a unique opportunity to educate audiences on a scientific topic, as well as to help promote another non-profit in the region that’s making the world a better place,” said Lacy Nicolosi, Outbound Sales & Outreach Coordinator for ATMTC. “I was fortunate that I found Rainforest Trust.  I hope we can use this family production as a way to inform people about the threats facing rainforests throughout the world.”

To see show times and buy tickets, visit the ATMTC site.

Adventure Theatre (founded in 1951) and Musical Theater Center (founded in 1986) merged into one organization in 2012.  The combined entity is called Adventure Theatre MTC.  Located in Glen Echo Park (Glen Echo, MD) and The Wintergreen Plaza (Rockville, MD), ATMTC cultivates new generations of artists and life-long audiences by creating memorable theatrical productions and experiences and by providing young people the highest quality training in musical theater.

About The Jungle Book
Orphaned in the jungle as an infant and adopted by a wolf pack, young Mowgli, the man-cub is taught the Laws of the Jungle by Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther. As Mowgli discovers himself and his place as a human, the jungle’s greatest menace, Shere Khan the Bengal Tiger, prepares to finish the kill he abandoned years ago.

News Release: Rainforest Trust Announces 2014 Earth Day Campaign

jaguar Jaguar © Getty Images
cono1-Pronaturaleza_DiegoPerez - Copy (3) Sierra del Divisor © Diego Pérez / CEDIA
local man sierra del divisor Indigenous communities surround the Sierra del Divisor © Thomas Müller

Rainforest Trust Announces Joint Earth Day Campaign to Save 100,000 Acres of Amazon Rainforest and Create Reserve for Jaguars

Nonprofit asks the public to donate 50 cents an acre to meet campaign goal of $50,000

WARRENTON, VA – MARCH 28, 2014 – Rainforest Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving threatened lands and endangered species, has announced a cause campaign that invites the public to save 100,000 acres of Amazon rainforest that is home to  jaguars, giant river otters, and other endangered wildlife.

To launch its ”Amazon Earth Day” campaign, Rainforest Trust has partnered with Greatergood.org and The Rainforest Site,  charitable sites that have raised more $30 million for non-profits since 1999. The campaign will run from March 28 through Earth Day, April 22. To raise the $50,000 needed for the campaign, the organizations have issued a call to action to environmental and wildlife supporters to pledge 50 cents an acre. The campaign will also be featured on AOL.com in April as part of the company’s “Make a Difference” program, a corporate social responsibility initiative to raise awareness for non-profit organizations.

Rainforest Trust’s campaign project is concentrated in the Sierra del Divisor mountain range in the Peruvian Amazon, which faces imminent threats from oil development, road and pipeline construction, and illegal logging. Unchecked, these threats could destroy the area in a matter of years. To permanently protect the Sierra del Divisor and the biodiverse lands surrounding it, Rainforest Trust is working with its Peruvian partner, CEDIA, to establish two protected areas with a buffer zone of community territories that will ultimately span 5.9 million acres. In total, $2.9 million will be raised over four years to fund these initiatives.

“Protecting the Sierra del Divisor range is crucial for global wildlife, for indigenous peoples and the world,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust. “The Amazon holds two-thirds of the world’s fresh water and produces 20% of the planet’s air. So it makes sense to focus on it for Earth Day as the well-being of our planet has much to do with what happens there. Even small sums of money can have powerful and lasting impacts in this extremely biodiverse area; a donation of $25 can protect 50 acres of Amazon rainforest. Anyone inspired to protect endangered species should find out what just 50 cents can do.”

To donate or learn more about this project visit www.rainforesttrust.org/ acres-for-50cents

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.

GreaterGood.org is an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization devoted to improving the health and well-being of people, pets, and the planet. Since 2006, it has given more than $30 million to charity partners and programs worldwide that work toward our mission. GreaterGood.org raises funds through a suite of 9 cause-related websites, including The Rainforest Site.

The Rainforest Site is dedicated to protecting rainforest ecosystems and endangered species by connecting conscious-minded consumers with conservation projects from around the world. The site, which features environmentally-friendly gifts, uses innovative means to protect rainforest such as sponsored click-to-conserve buttons that allow visitors to preserve threatened lands.

Media contact:
Marc Ford, Rainforest Trust

Sierra del Divisor Q + A with Amazon Conservationist Lelis Rivera

Lelis Rivera Lelis Rivera © Joe Lowe
CEDIA meeting Community feedback © CEDIA
Lelis Rivera  Rivera at planning session © CEDIA

March 26, 2014

Lelis Rivera, Executive Director of CEDIA, discusses the role native communities play in Amazon conservation.

Rainforest Trust has been working with its Peruvian conservation partner CEDIA (Center for the Development of an Indigenous Amazon) since November, 2013, to protect 5.9 million acres in Peru’s Sierra del Divisor range through the creation of protected areas and community-titled lands. Lelis Rivera, who leads CEDIA’s efforts, is not only a conservationist, but also an anthropologist and an expert on Amazon cultures. We spoke with him about the role indigenous communities play in conservation and how they will be involved in the Sierra del Divisor project.

What kind of role do native communities play in Amazonian conservation?

Indigenous communities throughout the Amazon, not just the Peruvian Amazon, are the only ones that have managed to keep  rainforests intact. And this is despite the many threats they face from both the natural environment and other humans. Specifically, I’m thinking of people seeking to capitalize on their forest resources or colonize their territories as some national governments do.

These communities comprise the most important conservationists in the Amazon because only by preserving forest are they guaranteed the permanent supply of the flora and fauna they need to survive. Native communities also support conservation because undisturbed landscapes offer opportunities to maintain their cultural traditions.

What happens when native communities are not involved in conservation efforts?

This leads to a sense of alienation and disconnectedness in many communities. In this way, they can be easy prey for third parties hoping to illegally extract resources from within their territory.

Until the 1990’s, indigenous people were not part of protected area management plans. In fact, native communities were viewed as threats, potentially jeopardizing conservation. This management strategy resulted in many clashes between park guards and indigenous communities. But, beginning in 1993, new ideas emerged about the involvement of indigenous groups, and people began to realize the important role they could play in conservation.

Native communities adjacent to protected areas can benefit from the titling of their lands, by organizational and administrative training, and by the development of resource management plans that provide sustainable economic incentives. Likewise, they can offer much to protected areas.

What kind of conservation responsibilities do native communities typically adopt?

Native communities are involved in the management of protected areas in different ways. Members of these communities volunteer as park guards, they help patrol park borders, and they have developed ongoing relationships with the staff of protected areas in a many locations.

Large parts of indigenous territories have been incorporated into protected areas, so of course indigenous people living alongside these areas know perfectly well what happens inside them and distinguish themselves as excellent park guards. This happened in Manú National Park with Machiguenga indigenous park guards, in the Pacaya–Samira National Reserve with Cocama-Cocamilla guards, and in the Matsés National Reserve with Matsés guards. I could go on.

How do you plan on engaging local communities to participate in the creation and protection of the Sierra del Divisor National Park?

We have already developed a strategy intended to directly involve the native communities in the process of creating the national park, and it involves a number of benefits. These include the titling of indigenous lands, on-site training for native communities to improve their administrative and organizational skills, and the identification of natural resources that can be incorporated into sustainable management plans for the communities.

We intend to involve native communities in the development of all park management tools through participatory meetings. For example, local communities will help design the park’s management, control, and monitoring plans.

What kind of outcome will this participation have in protecting the Sierra del Divisor?

The communal lands that we title will work as a barrier around the park, making it necessary for illegal immigrants, or anyone attempting to access the park, to pass through these lands. In this way, the land titling of the surrounding communities will be of immediate benefit. The reason is simple. We have been helping to establish parks and reserves for several decades and are absolutely convinced that control and surveillance within protected areas is not very important. Instead, this needs to be done outside of protected areas, along their edges.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

A good strategy for the success of protected areas is one that aligns native communities with the objectives of protected areas, one that promotes the development of sustainable economic activities, and one that helps organize native communities neighboring protected areas.

The project we have begun in the Sierra del Divisor builds on more than 30 years of experience that CEDIA has developed in building relationships between native communities and protected areas. We strongly believe that the involvement of native communities in the management, control, and monitoring of the Sierra del Divisor will result in a well-managed national park. Likewise, this involvement will keep indigenous communities surrounding the park engaged and vigilant, ready to meet any threat that puts these lands at risk.

Rainforest Rangers Raise Funds, Protect Tropical Forests

Rainforest Rangers4 Raffle winner and her prize © Carol Rodgers
Rainforest Rangers2  Rainforest Rangers © Kelly Posey
rainforest rangers3 All Rainforest Rangers assembled © Kelly Posey

Led by librarian Kelly Posey, a student group at Blanco Vista Elementary in San Marcos, Texas, took their rainforest studies to heart last December and raised funds to help Rainforest Trust in its mission to protect tropical forests.

Last year, Posey, who has been working at Blanco Vista for three years, began holding bi-weekly meetings with a group of 25 environmentally-minded students in the library to learn more about the rainforest. The club, known as the Rainforest Rangers, is open to all schoolchildren from third to fifth grade upon completion of a rainforest-related science project.

After learning about the Amazon Rainforest and the destructive forces that threaten it, students felt the need to act. “The rainforest has so many wonderful animals. They need us, and we aren’t doing such a good job protecting them,” explained Ranger, Lilyen.

After coming to a decision, Posey helped the students search for an organization to partner with. After browsing Charity Navigator she chose the two highest scoring rainforest organizations as candidates and presented their respective websites to the Rangers. The decision was put to a vote and Rainforest Trust unanimously won.

“The deciding factor was really the mission statement. Rainforest Trust had a strong statement and that pulled us toward the organization,” said Posey.

To raise money Posey bought a life-sized stuffed bear and suggested the Rangers hold a raffle. The Rangers (led by Viviana, Allan, Jasmyne, Krystal, Omar, and Iris) embraced the idea and organized a week-long contest, selling $1 raffle tickets each morning to students, teachers, and parents. They successfully raised $131.

The winning ticket was held by Abby, a 4th grader at Blanco Vista.

“The raffle was a big success and a number of new students have joined the Rainforest Rangers since it finished,” said Posey. “I was impressed with the way students connected with the need for conservation and really took it to heart.”

“The Rainforest Rangers are a great example of the way we can all make a difference to protect rainforests. They represent the next generation of environmental leaders, and it’s fantastic to see how interested and committed they already are,” said Kevin McAleese, Conservation Outreach Manager for Rainforest Trust.

“The rainforest has thousands of animals that need to live. We can’t destroy it – it’s theirs. They were there first,” said Ranger Lizbeth.

Money raised by the Rainforest Rangers will be used to buy threatened acres and protect habitat for tropical species.

Signs Point Towards Success for Philippines Project

Palawan horned frog, Megophrys ligayae, an endangered from the Philippines Palawan horned frog © Robin Moore
Cleopatra's Needle, Palawan Cleopatra’s Needle © Robin Moore
Batak family Batak children © Robin Moore

March 7, 2014

After a successful visit to the future site of the Cleopatra’s Needle Forest Reserve on Palawan Island, Rainforest Trust’s conservation officer Robin Moore reported that partner organizations are laying necessary groundwork for the reserve’s creation.

The proposed 80,000-acre reserve, adjacent to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, is a major biodiversity hotspot. In total, 31 endangered and threatened species – including key populations of the Palawan horned frog, Philippine flat-headed frog, and Philippine cockatoo – have been identified at the site.

Despite their spectacular biodiversity, forests in the Philippines have been dramatically reduced by logging, mining, and land conversion over the past 50 years. More than half of Palawan’s forests, however, remain intact.

To create the Cleopatra’s Needle Forest Reserve and protect Palawan’s remaining forests, Rainforest Trust has partnered with the Centre for Sustainability, a local conservation organization dedicated to preserving Palawan’s biodiversity.

“The Center for Sustainability is a small but very energetic and motivated team. Their first project here in Palawan – a grouper hatchery – is very impressive and demonstrates what they are capable of. They are well placed to succeed,” said Moore.

During his visit, Moore met with officials from the City of Puerta Princesa, a key partner in the project. Working with the Centre for Sustainability, the City of Puerta Princesa will establish the reserve by declaration and enforce its protection.

“The officials I met with reiterated their support for the project and seemed genuinely excited by the potential for this to be a flagship project for Palawan,” he said.

Moore later met with representatives of the Katala Foundation, a local conservation organization. He confirmed that they will lend their support to the project by engaging local people in the conservation of key species such as the Palawan forest turtle and Philippine cockatoo.

He also visited the proposed project site, hiking, and spending the night there.

“The area is really beautiful. In only a day we saw several hornbills, and more than 10 species of amphibians, including the endangered horned frogs and vulnerable flat-headed frogs, which live only in clear, pristine streams,” he said.

Due to a lack of previous scientific research in the area, the Centre for Sustainability is organizing a month-long study in August with 15 experts representing different taxonomic groups. Moore believes that the project could potentially result in the discovery of new species and increase the area’s conservation value even more.

While at the project site, he had a chance to meet with members of the Batak tribe, including the chief. The Batack livelihood is heavily dependent on the local environment; the tribe sustainably harvests and sells a variety of forest products including tree resins and honey.

“The Batak appear to be very engaged with the project and supportive of it. The area really is their last stronghold,” he said.

Once nomadic, the Batak have been forced by the Philippine Government to establish a small village in the forest. The last 200 members of the tribe now live in the forests of Cleopatra’s Needle.

Rainforest Trust has already raised over $160,000 to fund the creation and protection of the Cleopatra’s Needle Forest Reserve. To complete funding an additional $40,000 is required.

Click to learn more about the Palawan project.