The Power to Protect: Rainforest Trust Launches New Site

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Welcome to the new RainforestTrust.org: your connection to the world’s tropical rainforests and Rainforest Trust’s highly-focused efforts to protect them.

Our mobile-friendly site puts the power of protection in your hands, providing you with a reliable, easy-to-use tool to conserve our planet’s most endangered wildlife.

We’ve worked hard to create a site that will educate, engage and inspire.

We want visitors to understand the threats facing rainforest, the importance of conservation, and the solutions that are within our grasp. Likewise, we are excited to present our conservation work in creative ways to spur engagement among new and established audiences.

Most of all, we want to inspire visitors: to fall in love with the astonishing places and wildlife that fill our planet’s tropics; to cultivate a new commitment or deepen an existing dedication to tropical conservation; to believe that we all have the ability to make a difference; and to take meaningful action to make it happen.

Here are some of the ways we’ve enhanced our site:

Improved search: We’ve made it easier than ever for you to connect with the conservation projects that are most exciting. For the first time, you can use Google Earth map to explore projects. Are you most interested in birds? Big cats? Or Elephants? Try the new easy-to-use filters to quickly find the species you want to help.

Simplified navigation: Not only is the site designed to load quickly and perform seamlessly on phones, tablets and laptops, but we’ve also adopted a new menu and layout that makes it easy to navigate and locate what you’re looking for.

Greater integration: RainforestTrust.org is now better connected with the larger digital world. Look for fresh daily content feeds from Rainforest Trust’s social media platforms. Every page has share buttons to make it easy to spread important news and information to your family and friends. The newsletter signups located throughout our site make it easier than ever to stay on top of Rainforest Trust news and action alerts.

We’ve created RainforestTrust.org with you in mind; to give you a convenient way to engage conservation issues and solutions, and, ultimately, to make conservation a daily part of your life. We hope you enjoy.

Women in Conservation: Q+A with Moema Becker

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Moema Becker, who recently became executive director of Rainforest Trust’s Brazilian partner Instituto Uiraçu (IU), has spent much of her life working to protect Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest. A passionate environmentalist and artist, Moema has been working with IU since it was established in 2001.

She spoke with us recently about the plans to expand the Serra Bonita Reserve Complex, a group of privately owned Reserves operated by Instituto Uiracu, the challenges of being a conservationist in Brazil, and why protecting the Atlantic Rainforest is more important than ever.

What are your goals as executive director of Instituto Uiraçu?
We have a donor-supported three-year plan for institutional development, which includes hiring five people who have volunteered with the IU for years, as full-time employees. They will be working formally as our Directors of Environmental Education, Communication, Scientific Research, Land Stewardship and Management. They are deeply knowledgeable of the project, and deeply committed to it, so they are key personnel to keep and help build the long-term sustainability of the IU. We also hope to add another park guard to our staff to increase protection efforts.

To reach our long-term sustainability goals, we need to improve the facilities used for tourism and visitation, as we expect this to be our main source of income to keep the Reserve running. The goals related to this are the construction of a visitor center and expansion of our hosting facilities.

We are also excited about expanding our conservation efforts and have set an ambitious goal of growing the reserve by 1,000 acres each year, for the next 2 years – and even more in the future. Eventually we want to have 18,500 acres under protection.
Of course, as the executive director, I abide by the decisions of the IU´s Consultative Board, but our Board is very supportive of these efforts.

How are your conservation efforts going at present?

Thanks to Rainforest Trust’s support, we are negotiating the purchase of three parcels surrounding the reserve. Two of these parcels are quite large and contain extensive tracts of rainforest. Once added, these properties will increase the reserve by about 600 acres.

In past years, Rainforest Trust has provided us with great opportunities to expand Serra Bonita. We hope this partnership will continue in the coming years not only in terms of expanding the Reserve, but also in building the long-term sustainability we are aiming for.

What are some of the greatest challenges you find as a conservationist in Brazil?

Brazil, as you may know, is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for conservationists. When I began my work in conservation, illegal logging was rampant in the area around Serra Bonita. When I took action to report these activities to the authorities I began receiving death threats. On multiple occasions people entered my home while I was away. During this time I was also working hard, along with other environmentalists, to have an environmental official added to our municipal cabinet. This really upset logging interest and the threats intensified.

Eventually things reached the point that I needed to leave Serra Bonita. I used this opportunity to move to Brasilia and finish my education. While there, the federal authorities finally took action against loggers. In a raid, the federal police removed all of their equipment and arrested the four largest timber bosses. Since their arrest I’ve been able to return to Serra Bonita and things have been better.

What inspires you to keep working at Serra Bonita?

Creating Serra Bonita was my parents’ dream and they have done an incredible job of making it a reality. They took an enormous risk, sold everything they had, and moved to Serra Bonita to protect this special place. It’s a great privilege for me to continue their work.
Aside from my family’s connection, Serra Bonita really is an incredible biological gem. Over the years dozens of scientific studies have been conducted at the reserve and the results have been astounding. Recently new amphibian, reptile and insect species have been found. And there is no question that much more remains to be discovered in time.

Because over 93% of the Atlantic Rainforest has been destroyed, the reserve’s role in protecting the forest’s unique flora and fauna is absolutely critical. The reserve is a constant reminder of what we’ve lost and what remains. This is something that we can never lose sight of.

Learn more about Instituto Uiraçu: www.uiracu.org

Sightings Highlight Reserve’s Growing Impact

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Since creation of the Dracula Reserve in 2014, park guards, visitors and camera traps in the Ecuadorian reserve have recorded an impressive array of flora and fauna: from namesake Dracula orchids to the critically endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey.

Located in the Chocó rainforest of northern Ecuador, the 652-acre reserve offers permanent protection for endangered species in a landscape that is perilously threatened by forest destruction.

Although the reserve was established principally to protect rare, endemic Dracula Orchids, its presence is already proving of benefit to a variety of other species.

A male Spectacled Bear was recently caught on camera-trap scent-marking trees. Doing so allows Spectacled Bears to warn other bears of their presence and thereby establish their territory. They are threatened as a result of habitat loss throughout their range, which spans across the northern and central Andes. Their presence indicates that the reserve can help support even the largest mammals found in the Chocó rainforest.

Also caught on camera-trap was an Ocelot. These small, elusive cats are rarely spotted, and typically inhabit the densest forest areas. Although once hunted extensively for their fur, their population numbers have been improving thanks to successful conservation efforts.

Surtrek - for webSpectacled Bear  
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orchidThe Dracula Orchid
© Andreas Kay/CC
ocelot Ocelot
© Chris Barella/CC

Another important sighting took place when a visiting wildlife filmmaker acquired footage of the critically endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey leaping through the canopy. These primates, a very rare, endemic subspecies of Black-headed spider monkeys, are found only in the northwest region of Ecuador. As a result of hunting and human encroachment, they have suffered dramatic population declines. The Dracula Reserve is providing these primates with critically-needed protection to help prevent extinction.

“We are thrilled by these recent findings,” said Christine Hodgdon, International Conservation Manager for Rainforest Trust. “From the beginning, it was clear that the reserve held incredible conservation potential for Ecuador but already – within a year – it is starting to exceed our expectations.”

Working with local partner Fundación EcoMinga, Rainforest Trust supported the creation of the Dracula Reserve in December of 2014.

The Chocó rainforest, which lies along the Pacific coast of Ecuador and Colombia, holds the world’s highest amount of orchid diversity, especially of the genus Dracula. Together, Colombia and Ecuador contain about 25 percent of the world’s orchid species.

Nearly a third of orchid species found in Ecuador and Colombia are threatened with extinction due to deforestation. It is believed that 14 Dracula species have already gone extinct for this reason. Orchid species also face threats from commercial collectors that supply Ecuadorian and international markets.

Rainforest Trust is currently working with Fundación EcoMinga to provide increased protection for Chocó orchids and wildlife by expanding the Dracula Reserve.

 

 

Saving Rainforests Never Tasted So Sweet

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Inspired to protect the Amazon, a 9-year old from suburban Ottawa has raised enough funds to protect 1,084 acres of Peruvian rainforest.

To do so, Kate Gorchakov raised over $542 by selling lemonade in her school and community. At the same time, she has kept a blog, Kate’s Lemonade Jar, to promote her efforts and inspire others to do the same.

Kate first learned about Rainforest Trust while researching conservation organizations fighting to save rainforest.

Her gift will help Rainforest Trust conserve Peru’s Sierra del Divisor for just 50-cents per acre. Thanks to a matching gift challenge from an anonymous supporter, the impact of her gift will be doubled.

bearKate’s Lemonade Stand: Open for business! 
© Slava Petrenko
orchidRaising money for the Amazon.
© Slava Petrenko
ocelot Saving the rainforest never tasted so sweet!
© Slava Petrenko

The Sierra del Divisor is besieged by many threats, such as the development of a transcontinental highway stretching across Brazil and Peru. Kate’s donation will help support the permanent protection of 5.9 million rainforest acres by establishing Sierra del Divisor National Park, White Sands National Reserve, as well as granting land titles for 57 indigenous community territories.

In Kate’s words, “Last year I wanted to make a lemonade stand so I asked my parents and they said ‘yes!’ Later, I learned that the Amazon rainforest is in danger and it’s getting destroyed bit by bit. A year went by but I didn’t forget about the rainforest.”

Kate and her parents decided to sell lemonade to fundraise and spread the word in their community. Together they purchased a cooler with wheels, constructed a lemonade stand and created colorful banners to tempt the eyes of those passing by.

To advertise her charity, named simply, “Kate’s Lemonade Jar,” Kate and her mom created a blog with information about the Amazon rainforest, ways to help and even their delicious lemonade recipe.

On May 7th, Kate did her first rainforest fundraising event in coordination with Jump Rope for Heart at her school. “Everyone was very excited! Every class had Jump Rope for Heart activities throughout the day which made them very thirsty for lemonade.”

Not only did Kate and her classmates have fun supporting their cause, they found it resonated with others as well. One student even saved $100 of her allowance to donate for the rainforest.

After the success of her first event, Kate is more determined than ever to continue helping the Amazon. She is already planning her next fundraiser event at her school’s BBQ day on June 10th.

 

Comprehensive Support Propels Ecuadorian Partner

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With Rainforest Trust’s support over the last 15 years, Ecuadorian partner Fundación Jocotoco has expanded its network of protected reserves by nearly 25,000 acres, helping to ensure the survival of Ecuador’s most threatened bird species, including the El Oro Parakeet and the Jocotoco Antpitta.

This partnership, however, provides Fundación Jocotoco with funds to do more than just purchase land. The $2.3 million dollars that Rainforest Trust has provided towards operational and protection costs over the last ten years help sustain Fundación Jocotoco as a world conservation leader while allowing the organization to build towards a sustainable future.

“Rainforest Trust has supported all our conservation activities, from land purchase and habitat restoration to the building of eco-tourism facilities,” said Dr. Martin Schaefer, Fundación Jocotoco’s President.

“The long-standing support provided by Rainforest Trust has enabled us to grow from a local NGO to the most efficient conservation-oriented NGO within Ecuador, recognized both nationally and internationally.”

Funds from Rainforest Trust pay the salaries of forest guards that make a real on-the-ground difference for endangered species. Not only do these guards patrol Fundación Jocotoco reserves to ensure the safety of species like the Black-breasted Puffleg, which is found within a single reserve, but they also work as outreach agents, engaging communities to develop local support, which is essential for the long-term success of Jocotoco’s reserves.

White-tailed-JayEcuadorian Avifauna: White-tailed Jay 
© Fundación Jocotoco
Umbrellabird-LodgeUmbrella Bird Lodge
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Jocotoco-Guard Buenaventura Reserve Forest Guard
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“Rainforest Trust has played an essential role in protecting Ecuador’s wildlife by ensuring that Fundación Jocotoco is equipped with the necessary resources to make real on-the-ground protection possible, both now and in the future,” said Rocío Merino, Executive Director of Jocotoco.

Construction of essential infrastructure needed to meet growing conservation demands has been made possible by contributions from Rainforest Trust. One example is the Urraca Lodge, built at the Jorupe Reserve in southern Ecuador. Designed with visitor education in mind, the six-room lodge is the only place in Ecuador that travelers can spend the night in the threatened Tumbesian tropical forest. The lodge, which employs nearby residents, helps sustain the local economy, while also providing Jocotoco with a steady income stream that makes the reserve a viable model for sustainable conservation efforts.

Again this March, Rainforest Trust reaffirmed its long-standing commitment to Jocotoco by pledging a further $180,000 in direct support of Jocotoco’s protection and management costs. This includes the employment of 18 forest guards and two administrative support staff members.

“Fundación Jocotoco has a strong track of conservation success and we are proud to play an on-going effort in fostering its impressive work since,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust. “With an eye towards the future, we will continue to support Jocotoco to build institutional capacity to meet the growing conservation threats in Ecuador through our new Sustainability Fund.”

In 2014, the Rainforest Trust Sustainability Fund was created to provide ongoing support to in-country partners like Fundación Jocotoco for protection and management efforts. Thanks to a generous matching gift from Rainforest Trust supporter Urs-Peter Stäuble, the next $15,000 in donations to Sustainability Fund will be doubled (up to $30,000).

Covering an area roughly the size of Colorado, Ecuador is arguably one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. The Andean nation contains almost 10% of the world’s plant species, 532 amphibian species and 1,610 bird species. Despite its natural wealth, many of Ecuador’s tropical ecosystems are seriously threated by deforestation from agriculture and mining. Since its creation in 1998, Fundación Jocotoco has led efforts to protect these areas and the endangered species they hold.