A Year In Review: 2017 Successes

From one of the Earth’s oldest rainforests to one of the most biologically significant areas on the planet, in 2017 Rainforest Trust continued to expand its global efforts to save species, care for communities and protect our planet.

This year, Rainforest Trust directed over $20 million to conservation initiatives. We protected over 1.2 million acres of land, a combined total larger than Yosemite National Park, while a further 19 million acres are in the process of being purchased and protected in the coming months.

We partnered with 62 local and community organizations in 45 countries across the tropics to prevent deforestation that would have caused a wave of extinctions and the release of massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

As the Rainforest Trust team soars into 2018, we want to highlight some of our key accomplishments that would not have been possible without the generosity and optimism of our supporters.

2017 Successes  

Latin America

 


Africa

 


Asia and the Pacific

 

Thank you to the generous support of our friends around the world and the SAVES Challenge, for making these projects a success. 

For more information on how you can support Rainforest Trust, visit our Conservation Action Fund.

2017 Regional Overview: Latin America

From protecting rediscovered species in Brazil to securing rare magnolias in the Andes of Colombia, in 2017 Rainforest Trust supported local partners to preserve over 88,300 acres of habitat across Latin America.

Rainforest Trust and its local partner helped 16 indigenous communities in Peru gain titles to their lands, totaling more than 428,815 acres over the past few years. This is part of a larger effort to title over 50 community territories that will form a firewall against colonization around the Sierra del Divisor National Park and the soon-to-be White Sands National Reserve. Together, these two parks and the surrounding community lands will span almost 6 million acres. Rainforest Trust’s partner is helping these communities create sustainable management plans for their communal properties which are rich in rare and threatened species, including 38 mammals such as Jaguars, South American Tapirs and Red Uakari Monkeys. There are also believed to be 3,500 plant species, 300 fish species, 365 bird species and 109 amphibian species in this irreplaceable region.

In one of the world’s most biodiverse tropical savannas, the Cerrado biome of Brazil, Rainforest Trust worked to create the first protection for the rediscovered Endangered Kaempfer’s Woodpecker. Originally discovered 80 years ago, the red-crested Kaempfer’s Woodpecker was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in the region in 2006. Rainforest Trust’s local partner purchased the 593-acre private property, and the new reserve will be registered with the state as a private nature reserve (RPPN) to add an extra layer of protection. This will serve as an example for other landowners interested in establishing reserves on their own properties in the future. In addition to purchasing this key property and establishing an RPPN, the partner’s long-term goal is to launch a landscape-scale initiative to work with landowners to establish a network of private reserves across approximately 5,000 acres.

In the most rapidly disappearing habitat in Brazil, Rainforest Trust teamed up with its local partner Sociedade para a Conservação das Aves do Brasil (SAVE Brasil) to purchase the unique cerrado habitat (a type of highly threatened Brazilian savanna) and provide protection for the recently rediscovered Blue-eyed Ground-dove.

Across Ecuador, Rainforest Trust worked with its local partner to expand reserves and provide vital protection for key plant and animal species.  The Rio Canandé Reserve is a hotspot for biodiversity, and many species with restricted ranges depend on the reserve’s lowland tropical rainforests, including the Critically Endangered Canandé Magnolia –  documented only at this reserve – and the Critically Endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey, one of the world’s rarest primates. In addition, at least 36 Endangered Great Green Macaws inhabit the area, perhaps the largest known group in Ecuador. It is immensely important that this area is protected from nearby palm oil and logging concessions. The conservation groups also purchased new properties totaling over 345 acres to add to the Narupa Reserve in northeast Ecuador, one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. Just north of the Narupa Reserve, 872 species of birds have been recorded in the Sumaco-Napo-Galeras National Park, exemplifying the importance of this habitat. The new protected area provides critical habitat for range-restricted Andean endemic bird species and Vulnerable Neotropical-Nearctic migrant bird species, especially the Cerulean Warbler. This expansion also includes important habitat for at least four species of Endangered amphibians, including the Puyo Giant Glass Frog.

An additional land purchase of 126 acres through a local partnership brought the Río Zuñac Reserve’s total size to over 2,400 acres, protecting pristine cloud forest, endangered and range-restricted orchids and other threatened species. Because of the high rainfall and unusual geology, the reserve is rich in endangered, range-restricted plant species, 20 of which are found nowhere else in the world. In addition, the reserve harbors other Endangered species such as Black-and-chestnut Eagles and Mountain Tapirs, as well as Spectacled Bears and a highland population of Woolly Monkeys.

[crb_slider][crb_slide image=”https://www.rainforesttrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Mark-Wilson-Zunac-Eagle-Prey-.png” credits=”An Endangered Black-and-chestnut Eagle pair feasting in their nest in Río Zuñac Reserve. Photo by Mark Wilson” title=”” text=””][/crb_slider]

In Panama, Rainforest Trust worked with a local partner to expand the Cerro Chucantí Nature Reserve by 260 acres with a long-term aim of creating a broader government designated protected area. Titled properties were purchased to help establish an important buffer zone that acts as a barrier to prevent squatters from moving into extensive public wilderness areas, and will discourage poachers from hunting in the vicinity. The land purchase is part of the very limited high elevation cloud forest where many new species have been discovered, such as the dark brown Chucantí Salamander (Bolitoglossa chucantiensis) and the Maje Dink Frog (Diasporus majeensis sp. nov.). There are still a few species of snakes, at least three frog species, one salamander species and over a dozen species of ants and plants awaiting formal description.

In Colombia, Rainforest Trust and its partner expanded the Selva de Ventanas Natural Reserve by 120 acres. This is a vital component of the strategic network of biological corridors being created to connect remaining forest fragments. This expansion contains 32 percent of the global population of the Ventanas Magnolia (Magnolia polyhypsophylla), the most endangered tree species in the region with only 25 adult individuals known in the world.

In Guatemala, Rainforest Trust helped its local partner purchase six properties totaling 995 acres to establish the Cerro Amay-Chimel Cloud Forest Preserve. The Cerro Amay Cloud Forest is among the largest areas of intact forest left in Central America. Together, Rainforest Trust and its partner are strategically purchasing properties to connect the entire network for a corridor of protection while attracting researchers, promoting ecotourism and implementing sustainability initiatives in the indigenous villages surrounding the Cerro.

 

Thank you to the generous support of our friends around the world and the SAVES Challenge, for making these projects a success. 

For more information on how you can support Rainforest Trust, visit our Conservation Action Fund.

2017 Regional Overview: Asia and Pacific

In 2017, Rainforest Trust expanded its global reach and worked in Australia for the first time. With 150,486 acres protected across Asia, the conservation organization made huge strides forward to protect critical habitat and endangered species.

A great accomplishment was the protection of the 44,726-acre Caloola property on the Cape York Peninsula of Australia. This was the largest land purchase that Rainforest Trust has supported and remarkably, this property is almost entirely undisturbed habitat. The Caloola property strategically creates a permanent connection among a vast network of protected areas that spans over 700,000 acres. The area contains 28 regional ecosystems, 20 of which have low or no representation in the Australian protected area network. Water for Cooktown is sourced from the Annan River that runs beside the Caloola property. The presence of a very significant population of the Endangered Northern Quoll has been confirmed on the protected area, as well as Bennett’s Tree Kangaroos and several Vulnerable and Near Threatened bat species.

In addition to supporting its Australian partner in the purchase of the Caloola property, the conservation groups also helped create the 173.5-acre Misty Mountain Nature Reserve. This site now functions as a wildlife corridor and safeguards the remaining missing link to complete a nearly 3 million-acre high priority rainforest mosaic in Australia’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. While this region has been a national priority, the high altitude rainforests on volcanic basalt have been very extensively cleared and are highly fragmented. Connecting the remaining areas was essential for the long term survival of many charismatic  rainforest species within Queensland.

Rainforest Trust also worked to expand the Daintree National Park. The Daintree Rainforest is among the oldest rainforests on Earth and is the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest remaining in Australia. Because of the Daintree’s unique evolutionary history and wealth of wildlife, it has been declared a Wet Tropics World Heritage Site, with Daintree National Park lying at the center of protection efforts. However, encroaching housing development around the park’s borders threatens to fragment forests and disrupt wildlife through human traffic and the introduction of exotic plants. Purchasing and securing private properties in this area has helped reduce the risk of habitat fragmentation and consolidates protected areas within the Daintree.

In the Philippines, Rainforest Trust and a local partner established a refuge for the Critically Endangered Palawan Forest Turtle, one of the 25 most threatened turtle species in the world. 2,413 acres were designated by the municipal government of Mendoza, and Rainforest Trust is working diligently with its partner to expand this protection to total 4,552 acres. Rainforest Trust also worked with another local partner to establish the Hibusong Wildlife Sanctuary of 1,390 acres on the biodiverse island of Dinagat. The sanctuary is the first in a series of four new protected areas that will comprise more than 17,800 acres in the coming year to secure forest and coastal habitat. Dinagat Island is recognized as a Key Biodiversity Area, with numerous threatened species such as the Golden-crowned Flying Fox, Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat and the Dinagat Moonrat. Before the sanctuary was established by Rainforest Trust and its partner, there were no protected areas on Dinagat.

In Malaysia, Rainforest Trust permanently protected a 34,414-acre former logging concession in the last great forests of Northern Borneo. This vital habitat for Critically Endangered Bornean Orangutans and Sunda Pangolins is now incorporated into the Kuamut Forest Reserve, which safeguards the last vulnerable flank of the pristine forest of the world-renowned Danum Valley Conservation Area.

Rainforest Trust also supported a land purchase to create a critical wildlife corridor in Borneo to secure a safe passage for Pygmy Elephants. This project with a local partner protects the Kinabatangan Corridor which links two wildlife reserves and provides orangutans and elephants with safe passage along the northern banks of the Kinabatangan River, one of Malaysia’s most beautiful rainforest wetlands. This land within the corridor was sought by the oil palm industry, making its protection all the more urgent. Now a lifeline for Pygmy Elephants, the new protected area is frequented by other imperiled wildlife such as Sun Bears, Clouded Leopards and Bornean Ground-cuckoos. The corridor’s benefits even extend to the local community, conserving traditional fishing grounds and providing ecotourism opportunities to support their livelihoods.

In Indonesia, Rainforest Trust and a local partner conserved vital nesting grounds for the Endangered Maleo in northern Sulawesi. As one of Asia’s most iconic birds, Maleos build mounds to incubate their eggs through volcanic and solar-heated sand in large colonial nesting grounds, a natural spectacle that leaves the eggs exceptionally vulnerable to harvesting. With a nearly 90 percent decline in population size since 1950, it is estimated that fewer than 5,000 of these birds remain in the wild. These 316 acres secured by Rainforest Trust and its local partner will contribute to the overall project which will form a 47,328-acre protected area of nesting sites, coastal habitat, forest conservation area and agroforestry buffer zone.

In the Republic of Palau, Rainforest Trust supported a crucial land purchase to save Endangered Megapodes. The reserve is the first private land converted to a protected area on the island of Peleliu, and it protects a vital foraging area for the Micronesian Scrubfowl, known locally as the Micronesian Megapode. The site also contains a famous WWII memorial, as it is notoriously the location of the longest and bloodiest battle of the Pacific war.

In Myanmar, Rainforest Trust and a local partner created the 66,965-acre Kaydoh Mae Nyaw Wildlife Sanctuary which protects subtropical broadleaf forest and provides a safe haven for wildlife such as the Asian Elephant, Tiger, Dhole, Banteng, Phayre’s Leaf-monkey and two species of Pangolin – the Sunda and Chinese – both of which are Critically Endangered. Rainforest Trust’s local partner is ensuring that the protected area is managed by the indigenous community, and conservation efforts will focus on collaborative management and capacity building in the form of patrolling and law enforcement, protected area infrastructure and awareness programs. Community development and education programs as well as agricultural assistance and alternative livelihood programs ensure ongoing community commitment to conservation.

 

Thank you to the generous support of our friends around the world and the SAVES Challenge, for making these projects a success. 

For more information on how you can support Rainforest Trust, visit our Conservation Action Fund.

2017 Regional Overview: Africa

In Kenya this year, Rainforest Trust supported the protection of over one million acres to safeguard the world’s most endangered antelope, the Hirola.  This new conservancy will not only safeguard the Hirolas that currently call this region home, but will also help the species recover by re-establishing a free-ranging population between protected areas. Other species that will benefit from this refuge include Reticulated Giraffes, Grevy’s Zebras, African Savannah Elephants, African Wild Dogs, Lions, Cheetahs and several antelope species.

Rainforest Trust’s local partner is now preparing to compensate community members for the conservancy land by conducting land surveys and studying detailed settlement plans. Obtaining the registration certificate for Bura East Conservancy means community members are now empowered and officially have the legal backing to operate conservation efforts in their conservancy. In partnership with the local conservation organization and the county government, the communities will hold the land in trust for the conservation of wildlife in the area. The communities will act as guarantors for Bura East Conservancy and a future adjacent conservancy, which will both be incorporated into local area development plans. Together, these conservancies will protect 1.2 million acres, the largest conservation area in northeastern Kenya.

This part of Kenya also gained international attention this year after two white Reticulated Giraffes were seen  in the region where Rainforest Trust and its partner are protecting habitat. The white color is due to a genetic abnormality called “leucism,” a condition which affects many species and turns their appearance white. According to the partner’s blog, sightings of white giraffes around the Hirola range have increased in the past few years and recently, these two particular giraffes have been a common sight in the region.

Dr. Sally Lahm, Rainforest Trust’s Africa and Madagascar Conservation Officer explained, “There are fewer than 98,000 giraffes in populations scattered across the African continent. They already appear to be extinct in at least seven countries. Some giraffe populations are increasing while others are decreasing due to threats which vary among regions where they exist. The four major threats are habitat loss, civil unrest, illegal hunting and ecological changes in preferred habitats. [Our partner’s] project to create two new conservancies for Hirola antelope with local communities provides protection and monitoring for all wildlife populations, including giraffes.”

Rainforest Trust continues to support its partner in creating the adjacent conservancy and is excited for the work they will achieve in 2018.

 

Thank you to the generous support of our friends around the world and the SAVES Challenge, for making this project a success. 

For more information on how you can support Rainforest Trust, visit our Conservation Action Fund.

Protection for Southeast Asia’s Rarest Wildlife through Community Engagement

On December 19, Rainforest Trust local partner Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN) announced the declaration of the newly formed Kaydoh Mae Nyaw Wildlife Sanctuary in Myanmar.

Located in Karen State in eastern Myanmar along the Thai border, this newly protected area boasts large swaths of remote pristine forests containing a plethora of species assessed as threatened on IUCN’s Red List. The reserve protects 66,965 acres of subtropical broadleaf forest and provides a safe haven for 64 mammal species such as the Asian Elephant, Tiger, Dhole, Banteng, Phayre’s Leaf-monkey and two species of Pangolin – the Sunda and Chinese – both of which are Critically Endangered. There have also been 122 bird species, 12 amphibian species and 20 reptile species (including the Endangered Big-headed Turtle and the Endangered Elongated Tortoise) recorded in the area.

As the area is little explored, further field studies are sure to reveal new species yet to be described by scientists. Mounting demand for illegal wildlife products has created an increasingly more urgent need to protect these unique and biologically rich forests. Rainforest Trust’s local partner aims to ensure both national and global recognition of their protected areas and wildlife protection strategies through the Karen Wildlife Conservation Initiative (KWCI). The KWCI identified Kaydoh Mae Nyaw as an area urgently needing protection due to the number of high value species in the area.

The new protected area will be managed by the indigenous Karen community, and conservation efforts with KESAN will focus on collaborative management and capacity building in the form of patrolling and law enforcement, protected area infrastructure and awareness programs.

Rainforest Trust has supported community outreach activities with the local Karen community, such as the employment of local villagers to assist in wildlife and forest conservation surveys. Community development and education programs as well as agricultural assistance and alternative livelihood programs ensure ongoing community commitment to conservation. Villagers living within and around the protected area feel a great sense of ownership and buy-in to protect their resources and have even established their own informant network to report illegal hunting.

Dr. George Wallace, Chief Conservation Officer for Rainforest Trust, applauds the community’s role in protecting this key area.

“The indigenous Karen people’s local knowledge and pride of their homeland are key to the success of Kaydoh Mae Nyaw and the preservation of its precious resources.”

Long-term protection efforts will continue to emphasize community integration, further empowering local Karen people as stakeholders in conservation efforts through regular biological monitoring and development programs. By strengthening community-based conservation efforts on Karen lands, one of the most intact and wildlife-rich ecosystems remaining in all of Myanmar and Southeast Asia will receive the protection it so urgently needs.

 

With the generous support of our friends around the world and the SAVES Challenge, this project is a success. A special thank you to Luanne Lemmer and Eric Veach for their leadership support.

For more information on how you can support Rainforest Trust, visit our Conservation Action Fund.

First Protection for Wildlife on Dinagat Island

Rainforest Trust and local partner GREEN Mindanao established a new Hibusong Wildlife Sanctuary of 1,390 acres on the biodiverse island of Dinagat off the north coast of Mindanao in the Philippines. The sanctuary, located on the small islet of Hibusong just off the coast of northern Dinagat Island, was formally declared on December 4.

The sanctuary is the first in a series of four new protected areas that will comprise more than 17,800 acres in the coming year. With more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines contains a wide variety of habitats, including lowland tropical rainforest, mangroves, wetlands and thousands of miles of coastline. However, much of the nation’s natural resources are not currently protected. Dinagat Island is recognized as a Key Biodiversity Area, with numerous endemic and threatened species. Before the sanctuary was established by Rainforest Trust and its partner, there were no protected areas on Dinagat.

“Rainforest Trust and GREEN Mindanao are proud to have established the first protection for Dinagat that is under tremendous pressure from chromite and nickel mining,”  said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman.

“We have created a permanent safe haven and are working toward even more protected sites for a plethora of unique wildlife, such as the recently rediscovered and Critically Endangered Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat, the Golden-crowned Flying Fox and the bizarre shrew-like Dinagat Moonrat – one of the most unique and endangered species on Earth.”

 

Thank you to our generous friends around the world and the SAVES Challenge. A special thank you to the Biodiversity Consultancy, Orchid Art by Charles Hess, and the SW Region Orchid Growers Association for their leadership support.

For more information on how you can support Rainforest Trust, visit our Conservation Action Fund.

­Critical Wildlife Corridor in Borneo Secures Safe Passage for Pygmy Elephants

Rainforest Trust and a local partner in Borneo announced a critical land purchase at the juncture of the Kinabatangan River and a tributary that is a major pinch-point for migrating Pygmy Elephants in Sabah.

“This small but strategic property safeguards a major pinch-point for migrating Pygmy Elephants in Sabah,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman. “This property is one of the most important river crossing points between two protected areas and was at risk of being converted to an oil palm plantation, which would have greatly hindered the passage of over 100 Critically Endangered Bornean Pygmy Elephants. In fact, in 2016 I had the pleasure of witnessing a family of Pygmy Elephants crossing from this very property that was for sale.”

In an effort to provide a connected landscape for the region’s species, Rainforest Trust’s local partner is working to protect the Kinabatangan Corridor, which links wildlife reserves and provides orangutans and elephants with safe passage in one of Malaysia’s most beautiful tropical rainforests. This land within the corridor was sought by the oil palm industry, making its protection all the more critical.

As the world’s third largest island, Borneo is home to some of Earth’s oldest rainforests. Due to its geographic isolation and tropical location along the equator, the island hosts an exceptional abundance of unique wildlife. Many of its spectacular species are endemic to the island, including more than one third of its plants. Pygmy Elephants – which are smaller and have larger ears than their Asian counterparts – are found on the island, in addition to Bornean Orangutans, which have broader faces, shorter beards and darker colors than their cousins on Sumatra. Bizarre-looking Proboscis Monkeys sport large, pendulous noses and partially webbed feet for swimming across rivers. These animals are keystone species, playing a vital role in maintaining the forest ecosystem’s health as seed dispersers across their ranges.

Now a lifeline for Pygmy Elephants, the new protected area is frequented by other imperiled wildlife such as Sun Bears, Clouded Leopards and Bornean Ground-cuckoos. The corridor’s benefits even extend to the local community, conserving traditional fishing grounds and providing ecotourism opportunities to support their livelihoods.

 

With the support of our generous friends around the world and the SAVES Challenge this project was a success. A special thank you to Avaaz Foundation, Nicolas and Lisa Barthelemy, George Jett, Sandra Moss, Larry Thompson and Tracie Willis for their leadership support.

For more information on how you can support Rainforest Trust, visit our Conservation Action Fund.

 

New Land Purchases Expand Narupa Reserve in Ecuador

With the purchase of three new properties, Narupa Reserve in the Napo bioregion of northeast Ecuador has been expanded by over 345 acres.

Rainforest Trust’s local partner Fundación de Conservación Jocotoco purchased three new properties totaling over 345 acres to add to the Narupa Reserve. This reserve is located in the Napo bioregion of northeast Ecuador, one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. Just north of the Narupa Reserve, 872 species of birds have been recorded in the Sumaco-Napo-Galeras National Park, exemplifying the importance of this habitat.

The Narupa Reserve expansion consists of 60 percent old secondary forest, with the rest of the habitat being young secondary forests and abandoned pasture. The new protected area provides critical habitat for range-restricted Andean endemic bird species and Vulnerable Neotropical-Nearctic migrant bird species, especially the Cerulean Warbler. This expansion also includes important habitat for at least four species of Endangered amphibians, including the Puyo Giant Glass Frog.

Enlarging the Narupa Reserve is essential to having an area substantial enough to protect viable populations of globally threatened species from illegal logging, deforestation and the expansion of agriculture.  This newly purchased area was in urgent need of protection due to easily accessible roads and high development and encroachment threats. Rainforest Trust will continue helping its local partner expand the 2,552-acre Narupa Reserve to eventually achieve strategic connectivity with the Reserva Ecologica Antisana and Sumaco-Napo-Galeras.

Thanks to our generous friends and the SAVES Challenge for making this project a success. A special thank you to Artenschutzstiftung Zoo Karlsruhe, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Albert Ludwigs and the March Conservation Fund for their leadership gifts.

For more information on how you can support Rainforest Trust, visit our Conservation Action Fund.

Strategic Purchases Establish Chocó Biodiversity Corridor

With the recent purchase of new properties, Rio Canandé Reserve was expanded by 853 acres, working toward a biodiversity corridor in Ecuador.

Rainforest Trust and local partner Fundación Jocotoco have purchased several properties during 2017 for a total of 853 acres that will be added to the Río Canandé Reserve in Ecuador, a hotspot for biodiversity with one of the highest concentrations of endemic species in the world. The reserve holds the sole population of the Critically Endangered Canandé Magnolia and is home to the Critically Endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey, one of the world’s rarest primates. The area is also critical for the Mache Glass Frog and is one of the few sites where the species is found.

The Chocó region of South America contains lowland tropical rainforests and extends from Panama, through north-western Colombia and into northern Ecuador. As one of the richest and most biologically diverse forests in the world, the Río Canandé Reserve has been identified as a Key Biodiversity Area and serves as a refuge for over 350 bird species, including at least 36 Endangered Great Green Macaws that inhabit the area – perhaps the largest group in Ecuador.

“Rainforest Trust is proud to have supported the purchase of many properties at Canandé for 15 years now,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman.

“The Canandé area is perhaps the most important surviving refuge of super-wet Chocó rainforest remaining in western Ecuador, and we aim to accelerate efforts to secure and protect what little of this unique habitat remains.”

This action is critical as it is one of the most threatened forests in the world with less than 10 percent of the original forest remaining intact. The expanding lumber and palm oil industries in the areas surrounding the reserve pose great threats to this diverse ecosystem. In addition, increased infrastructure and road expansion make the reserve more vulnerable to timber extraction and agricultural expansion. Therefore, the race is on to save this vital habitat.

To ensure the protection of the reserve from these encroaching threats, Rainforest Trust is working with its longtime partner to continue purchasing critical properties that will expand the Río Canandé Reserve and enable the long-term objective of establishing an ecological corridor between Canandé and the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve.

With the support of our many generous friends around the world and the SAVES Challenge, this project is a success. A special thank you to Artenschutzstiftung Zoo Karlsruhe, John Dwyer, P.E., International Conservation Fund of Canada (ICFC) and the March Conservation Fund for their leadership gifts.

For more information on how you can support Rainforest Trust, visit our Conservation Action Fund.

Challenging Land Purchase Expands El Dorado Bird Reserve

Rainforest Trust provided technical help and support to complete the complex purchase of a 344-acre property that was owned by a family of 19 to expand the El Dorado Bird Reserve in Colombia.

El Dorado Bird Reserve, part of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range in northern Colombia, was expanded by 344 acres through a complex and protracted private land purchase conducted by Rainforest Trust partner Corporación Alianza por la Conservación. The property was owned by a family of 19, each with an individual right that had to be signed off and compensated to complete the transaction.

Rainforest Trust provided technical help and support to complete the purchase, and its local partner Fundación ProAves will incorporate management of the new area with the rest of the reserve. Isolated from other mountainous regions, many of the species found in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta evolved there and are not found anywhere else in the world. Boasting the highest rates of bird endemism in the world, the range is home to over 600 bird species, including more than 20 endemic species, such as the Endangered Santa Marta Parakeet and the Vulnerable Santa Marta Warbler. It also hosts a stunning diversity of rare and endemic amphibians species, including the Critically Endangered Harlequin Frog.

Following decades of uncontrolled colonization and agricultural expansion, only 15 percent of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta’s original vegetation remains unaltered. Principle threats include the expansion of farms, pasturelands and coffee plantations. In addition, the construction of new vacation homes poses a growing danger to forests.

“This was an extremely important property to acquire with one of the highest concentrations of endemic birds in the world.”

“Importantly, the property has a broad altitudinal range, which is very important in regard to climate change that will affect this region tremendously. We are very grateful to our partners whose patience and persistence in negotiating paid off, and we are pleased to expand key conservation protection within the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman.

Since 2006, Rainforest Trust’s partners Fundación ProAves and Corporación Alianza por la Conservación have pursued a major conservation initiative to purchase and protect a dozen privately-owned properties to establish the 2,320-acre El Dorado Bird Reserve, making a vital contribution to the conservation of Colombia’s endemic fauna and flora.

Thank you to our many generous friends around the world and the SAVES Challenge, this project is a success.  A special thank you to Global Wildlife Conservation, Luanne Lemmer and Eric Veach, The Marshall-Reynolds Foundation, The Biodiversity Consultancy, Regina Bauer Frankenberg Foundation, Conservation Alliance LLC, Keith and Janice Wiggers, and Ted and Kay Reissing for their leadership support.

For more information on how you can support Rainforest Trust, visit our Conservation Action Fund.