Rainforest Trust Launches Ark Initiative

ark-article-1 With partner ProAves, Rainforest Trust has helped purchase 80,000 acres of habitat in Colombia.  ©ProAves
 ark-article-4  In Peru, Rainforest Trust has helped protect millions of acres of rainforest © Rainforest Trust
ark-article-2   In the last 25 years, Rainforest Trust has protected nearly 8 million acres for wildlife. © Jeff Zack

November 25, 2014

Rainforest Trust has launched a major new initiative to expand its successful model of protected area establishment.

The Rainforest Ark Initiative will provide partnership and funding opportunities to conservation organizations across the tropics that are committed to establishing or expanding protected areas for endangered species. It will target projects in developing countries where protected areas suffer most from insufficient funding.

“Rainforest Trust shares a common mission and sense of urgency with conservation organizations around the world,” said Christine Hodgdon, International Conservation Manager for Rainforest Trust. “The Ark Initiative is our way of building new and lasting partnerships with these organizations that will collectively improve our ability to meet fast-growing challenges to threatened wildlife.”

Applicants for the initiative must be well-established not-for-profit entities or non-governmental organizations representing local stakeholders.

“In the last 40 years the world has lost half of its wildlife,” said Hodgdon. “Adequately protecting what remains is not the job of a single government or organization. Constructive partnerships are indispensable if we are going to successfully expand wildlife conservation efforts.”

To date, Rainforest Trust has protected nearly eight million acres of critical habitat. The goal of the Ark Initiative is to protect an additional 12 million acres, for a total of 20 million acres, by the year 2020.

To join the Rainforest Ark Initiative, candidate organizations can submit a project proposal for either a land purchase or protected area designation. The project must save habitat for IUCN endangered or critically endangered species. There are no funding request limits; applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Please visit the ARK Initiative page to learn more or to apply.

Protecting Paradise

P1390444 - Copy Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest © REGUA
Messias Gomes for web  Messias Gomes © REGUA
Rhildo da Rosa Oliveira for web Rhildo da Rosa Oliveira © REGUA

November 21, 2014

Rainforest Trust’s Brazilian partner REGUA protects Brazil’s threatened Atlantic Rainforest, an area even more biodiverse than the Amazon Basin, in its 17,000-acre reserve. The reserve employs a dedicated staff of nine guards who contribute their extensive forest knowledge and skills to protect endangered wildlife. Their hard work and sacrifices have helped make REGUA an exemplary nature reserve .

Many of their guards have family ties to the Atlantic Rainforest that go back generations. These connections provide inspiration to guards in their goal of protecting REGUA’s forests.

Messias Gomes and Rhildo da Rosa Oliveira, two of REGUA’s most respected forest guards, describe their most memorable moments on the job and the events that influenced their decision to become guards.

Messias Gomes
“I was born in Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest on a large farm that was originally owned by my grandfather who had a grinding mill to make cassava flour. He rented the higher parts of the property to sharecroppers that grew bananas. These sharecroppers, however, destroyed much of the forest in their desire to take advantage of the high price of bananas.

“After my grandfather died, all of my uncles sold the land they inherited. Only my father continued to work the land and follow his father’s footsteps. Then when my father died, most of my siblings sold the land bequeathed to them leaving only my brother and myself on the small parcels that remained of our family’s land.

“I farmed the area like my grandfather and father until 2009, when I heard that REGUA was hiring park guards and decided to become one.

“Being a park guard gives me a chance to protect the forest I knew as a child. It is my deepest desire that REGUA will eventually be able to buy much of my grandfather’s old farm and restore and reforest it. The forest I remember was spectacular.

“I know the work we are doing to protect wildlife at REGUA is effective. Sometime ago, while hiking in the reserve, I encountered a band of Woolly Spider Monkeys – the largest primate in the Atlantic Rainforest – and the sight took my breath away. My grandfather talked about seeing them many, many years ago, but I never thought I would have the chance. This species, like many others at REGUA, is making a comeback and I’m thrilled to be able to experience the forest in the same way my grandfather once did.”

Rhildo da Rosa Oliveira
“My grandparents were both sharecroppers on a large, busy farm called Santo Amaro. They grew bananas and eked out a pretty difficult life in the mountains. They were humble people and expected that their children and grandchildren would continue doing the same work. But as banana prices dropped, my family had to move away to look for opportunities elsewhere.

“A love of nature and wildlife runs deep in my family and strongly influenced the decision I made to work with REGUA in 2001 as a forest guard. I was actually the first guard hired at the reserve. I now do many things for REGUA like anti-poaching patrols and research assistance. Primarily, though, I am responsible for maintaining and building the reserve’s trail network.

“I share an interest in nature and the environment with my oldest daughter, who assists researchers in REGUA with Red-Billed Curassow studies.

“One of my most memorable moments as a guard occurred when I was walking alone along a 4×4 path in the forest. I encountered a large female puma and expected my presence would drive her away. Then I heard the whine of a pup nearby and realized that I was in a tough spot. The mother began growling and pacing back and forth. I slowly backed down the trail, keeping a close watch on her as I went. Luckily, she decided to stay with her cub and I made it out without a scratch.”

Learn more about how you can help Rhildo and Messias protect the Atlantic Rainforest by visiting Rainforest Trust’s REGUA project page.

A Fresh Start for Forest Guards at REGUA

GGV_equipe2_09jan14_TatianaHortaREGUA’s Park Guards © REGUA
REGUA, Alan's trailRainforest at the REGUA reserve  © REGUA
Paula B. ChavesWildlife: Woolly Spider Monkeys © Paula Chaves

November 19, 2014

Few in Brazil’s REGUA reserve perform more important work than its nine forest guards.

When the reserve was established in 2001, it was clear that patrolling its forests for poachers would be crucial to guarantee the conservation of its biodiversity. Over the years this has proved true.

To find suitable forest guards, REGUA identified several local hunters willing to change their ways. Candidates were carefully selected for stamina, understanding, and tracking skills.

Surprisingly, the ex-hunters chosen by REGUA took up their responsibilities with much gusto.Preventing hunting has been the principle, continuous task of REGUA’s forest rangers. Hunting is very much a traditional activity in Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest and the tracking skills REGUA’s guards developed as hunters are indispensable resources; they are now used to detect the presence of poachers.

To facilitate detection of hunters, a system of trails has been created at REGUA, which allows for regular patrols. The hard work done by forest guards, coupled with REGUA`s education and protection program, has significantly reduced poaching. At the same time wildlife has become much more abundant and critically endangered species like Woolly Spider Monkeys have been sighted.

In addition to conducting patrols, forest guards use the reserve’s trail network to guide researchers and visitors on trips to observe the rainforest and its wildlife.

The opportunity to talk with visiting students, researchers, and tourists about wildlife has caused a profound change in forest guard attitudes and has deepened their commitment to protecting REGUA’s forest by helping them see how important their role is to make the reserve succeed.

REGUA’s forest guard program is not only a way of generating employment but it also is helping to change local customs that have historically led to dramatic damage of the Atlantic Rainforest.For example, REGUA guards, some of whom readily admit that they contributed to rainforest destruction, have begun to participate in reforestation efforts. As a result of the restoration program, however, they are able to tell their children that they were involved in establishing forests and compensated for past mistakes.

Besides the hard physical work of planting trees, guards also collect the seeds of rare native trees during forest patrols. The results of their reforestation efforts are impressive and have helped guards feel even more involved in the future of the reserve and proud of the heritage they are creating.

By David Peek and Nicholas J. Locke

Forest Guards: Fighting for Endangered Wildlife

toma de datos, diaria Recording monitoring data for bird studies © ProAves
instalacion de camaras trampa (1)  Forest guards use camera traps to identify rare and reclusive wildlife © ProAves
guardabosques hernando patiño - CopyRainforest Trust supports 30 forest guards © ProAves

November 17, 2014

In the last 40 years, the earth has lost half of its wildlife. Defending what remains is the job of the world’s forest guards.

Among other things, forest guards play an instrumental role in patrolling borders, observing wildlife, deterring poachers, and educating local communities.

“It’s hard to imagine a more difficult – or rewarding – job than being a forest guard. Guards work long hours in difficult, often wet conditions, sometimes away from their families for a month at a time, and on modest salaries,” said Christine Hodgdon, International Conservation Manager for Rainforest Trust. “We wouldn’t enjoy the wildlife we have today were it not for forest guards – they are the gatekeepers to our reserves.”

Protected areas in many developing nations, however, lack necessary funds to hire guards. Even reserves lucky enough to have guards are many times understaffed. The World Institute for Conservation & Environment (WICE) estimates that only a quarter of forest guards needed to adequately protect reserves are currently employed.

Rainforest Trust supports the work of over 30 forest guards in 25 reserves across Latin America, many in Colombia and Ecuador. Guards typically earn monthly salaries of $500, including health care and pension.

“Supporting the work of forest guards is not only the most effective way to protect wildlife, it’s also one of the most economical ways of doing so,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust. “To ensure that the reserves we establish are not just ‘paper parks,’ but that they really protect wildlife, we make sure our reserves are properly staffed with forest guards. While the investment is rather minor, the payoff is enormous.”

As challenges to protected areas grow and evolve, so does the need for more well equipped guards. To meet these needs, Rainforest Trust has announced the creation of a new Sustainability Fund that will provide ongoing support to in-country partners and forest guards. The fund acts as an endowment for long-term conservation needs, such as supplying forest guards with salaries, training, education, equipment, and housing.

“Many protected areas have forest guard staffs that are underfunded and ill prepared to face obstacles in the field,” said Salaman. “The Sustainability Fund will ensure that the guardians in our reserves are well-trained and well-equipped, ready to meet serious challenges on a daily basis.”

Forest guard positions offer gainful employment to men and women, many times from rural communities, suffering from a lack of economic opportunities. This is particularly valuable in areas where many jobs are linked to the unsustainable extraction of environmental resources such as poaching, logging, and mining. The Sustainability Fund will help ensure that constructive employment opportunities exist in communities surrounding protected areas Rainforest Trust has helped establish.

“Forest guards dedicate their lives to protecting the animals that enrich our lives,” said Hodgdon. “Many guards have rejected better paying employment opportunities, usually ones that involve the exploitation of natural resources, to successfully pursue their dreams of environmental protection. Their efforts are an inspiration for everyone that cares about our planet’s biodiversity. ”

Rainforest Trust Joins New York Declaration on Forests

Climate-Summit_English_RGB-1024x582Climate Summit 2014
14963604814_3ef5c9b73f_oThreatened wildlife: Hyacinth Macaw © Jeff Zack
landscapenydecProtected Ecuadorian cloud forest © Jocotoco

November 10, 2014

Rainforest Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization focused on protecting threatened tropical lands and saving endangered species, has joined the New York Declaration on Forests as an endorser.

The New York Declaration on Forests was announced in September at the United Nations Climate Summit, and is endorsed by many governments, corporations, charities and indigenous groups.

The Declaration’s stated goal is to halve deforestation by 2020 and eliminate it by 2030. Another goal of the Declaration is the restoration of hundreds of millions of acres of degraded forest and landscapes.

As an endorser, Rainforest Trust will work to protect millions of acres of threatened tropical rainforest and the endangered wildlife it supports.

Rainforest Trust’s goal by the year 2020 is to protect over 20 million acres of tropical rainforest habitat.

“We applaud the New York Declaration on Forests,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust. “Achievement of the goals of the Declaration would be of tremendous benefit in protecting wildlife habitat and addressing climate change. Of course, Rainforest Trust would prefer to see the targets of the Declaration exceeded so as to end tropical rainforest destruction and degradation more quickly.”

Rainforest Trust is focused on saving rainforest and endangered species in partnership with local conservation leaders and indigenous communities. Since its founding in 1988, Rainforest Trust has saved nearly 8 million acres of rainforest and other tropical habitats and has 85 projects across 22 countries.

Kids 4 Rainforest Expands and Adopts New Name

students - web Regency Elementary students © Rochelle Harvey
for web Rainforest Ambassador © Carol Lowenbrandt
Tambako the Jaguar - Copy for web Rainforest wildlife: Tamandua © Tambako

 November 6, 2014

After leading student and youth conservation efforts for more than four years, Rainforest Trust’s Rainforest 4 Kids program is expanding its mission. To improve outreach efforts and reach a wider range of young people, including high school students, the program has been renamed “Rainforest Ambassadors.”

The Rainforest Ambassadors program will continue to focus on building bridges between classrooms and rainforests, but will expand its reach by forming new partnerships. This includes partnerships with zoos across the country that will link educational programs to Rainforest Trust’s conservation efforts in wild places.

In addition to zoos, the program is also forming partnerships with sports teams, colleges and museums to engage youth by facilitating creative learning opportunities and contests. The goal of these partnerships is to help influence and shape the next generation of rainforest conservationists.

“We protect what we love. It’s important to educate children about rainforests so they can be aware of these ecosystems and the plants and animals that call them home,” said Jesse Lewis, Rainforest Trust’s Education Coordinator.

The Rainforest Ambassadors webpage has been updated and new downloadable materials have been added. The program also has several new Pinterest boards, which serve as idea banks for rainforest arts, crafts and activities.

“Rainforest Ambassadors has a powerful message for young people – that they have agency to make the world a better place no matter what their age,” said Lewis. “What makes Rainforest Ambassadors unique is that it not only fosters learning about the wonders of rainforests, but also gives youth the opportunity to protect them with the donations they raise.

To learn more or get involved, visit the Rainforest Ambassadors webpage and download Rainforest Ambassadors’ informational brochure. Brochures are also available via mail by request.


Rainforest Trust Launches Save-an-Acre Pledge

_47A3215 - Copy The Sierra del Divisor © Diego Perez/CEDIA
_47A3362 - Copy - JPEG One rainforest acre stores 200 tons of CO2 © CEDIA
aaron martin - Copy for web Amazon wildlife: Red Uakari Monkey © Aaron Martin

November 3, 2014

Rainforest Trust is launching a new pledge drive that will allow participants to save Amazon acres by signing an online pledge. Each signer will have one acre protected in his or her honor thanks to a supporting gift from Ann Kruglak of Mystic Dreamer Art.

The “Save-an-Acre” pledge will help protect 500 acres, an area one and a half times the size of the National Mall, in Peru’s Sierra del Divisor Mountain Range.

Located in the heart of the Amazon Basin, the Sierra del Divisor protects a biological community rich in rare, endemic, and threatened species. Its position in the center of a ten-million-acre multinational wildlife corridor makes its preservation critical. The area is also home to several uncontacted indigenous tribes.

The Sierra del Divisor faces imminent threats from oil and mining development, road and pipeline construction, and illegal logging. To permanently protect the mountain range and the biodiverse forests surrounding it, Rainforest Trust is working with Peruvian partner CEDIA to establish two protected areas with a buffer zone that will span 5.9 million acres.

“The degraded state of our rainforests is an issue that affects all life on the planet,” said Christine Hodgdon, Rainforest Trust’s International Conservation Manager. “Signing the ‘Save-an-Acre’ pledge is an easy way to become a part of the solution. Each acre we save really does make a difference.”

The Amazon Rainforest plays a critical role in maintaining the earth’s natural systems. It produces approximately 20% of the planet’s air and holds two-thirds of the world’s freshwater. Protecting the Amazon is an effective way to fight against climate change. Each rainforest acre protected prevents the release of 200 tons of CO2 emissions, an amount equal to the annual emissions of 57 U.S. autos.

Ann Kruglak creates a range of eco-friendly artwork to help save rainforest and all proceeds from the sales of Mystic Dream Art are donated to Rainforest Trust. To date, she has helped protect more than 130,000 acres.

“This pledge will allow the Rainforest Trust communities on social media to get engaged with rainforest conservation in a new way,” said Kevin McAleese, Rainforest Trust’s Conservation Outreach Officer. “The word-of-mouth nature of social media is an essential part of the pledge. We will be using a new ‘signal boosting’ platform called Thunderclap  which will allow signers to amplify their message and help spread the word about the “Save an Acre” pledge to their own social networks.”

Visit Rainforest Trust’s “Save-an-Acre” page to sign the pledge.