Central and South American rainforests are the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. From the world’s wettest rainforest in the Chocó region of Ecuador and Colombia to the spectacular cloud forests of Guatemala to the mighty Amazon, these ecosystems harbor immense amounts of life.
But they’re facing accelerating threats from logging, mining and agricultural expansion.
That’s why Rainforest Trust intensified efforts to strategically save the most important sites with endangered species, working alongside our locals partners in Latin America this year. Through this bottom-up approach, we’ve protected 619,799.6 acres — an area nearly five times the size of Ireland — at 25 critical reserves from Peru to Mexico.
In Peru, we worked with ten indigenous communities to protect over 500,000 acres. With the Costa Rican government we declared the country’s first shark sanctuary in Golfo Dulce. This marine protected zone safeguards the main birthing and nursing area for the endangered Scalloped Hammerhead.
Last year, Rainforest Trust purchased and protected a private reserve for the rediscovered Critically Endangered Blue-eyed Ground-dove. But this year, the state of Minas Gerais created the 86,708-acre Botumirim State Park around that reserve. So together, these lands shield a vital corner of Brazil’s threatened Cerrado ecosystem.
In Ecuador, we purchased 4,743.6 acres of private lands at risk of logging to strengthen a growing nature reserve network. These properties expanded the size of six existing protected areas, including the Tapichalaca and Dracula Reserves. But these achievements were only the latest of many years spent protecting Ecuador’s most important habitats in the world’s megadiverse Chocó and Andean biodiversity hotspots.
We also expanded the Cerro Chucanti Nature Reserve in Panama and the Cerro Amay-Chimel Cloud Forest Preserve in Guatemala. In South America, we continued expanding both the Guapiacu Ecological Reserve in Brazil and the Selva de Ventanas Natural Reserve in Colombia.
But it wasn’t only species that benefited from these protections. In fact, three project sites in Latin America featured notable archaeological discoveries! At Cerro Chucanti in Panama, our partner uncovered pottery, likely from pre-Columbian settlements. The Selva Maya project in Guatemala also featured a remarkable find: A recent LiDAR study (laser scanning from low-flying airplanes) identified a sprawling network of Mayan ruins to demonstrate the site’s global cultural significance.
Rainforest Trust’s Latin America conservation team worked hard on the ground to coordinate a further 70 future land acquisitions and designations across the region to protect 8,872,595 acres — an area four times the size of Yellowstone National Park!
Our diverse program from small purchases to creating massive indigenous reserves means we’ve protected so much in the hyper-diverse rainforests of Latin America this year. But we know that despite our success, there are still many threats, known and unknown, to the species and the land.
Our continued success in Latin America is thanks to the ongoing support of people like you.
All gifts to support our important conservation work are matched by the SAVES Challenge so you have double the impact. Please join us today to step up efforts now!