Rainforest Trust Celebrates Earth Day with Multiple Campaigns, Events Across the U.S.

Rainforest Trust celebrated Earth Day by launching two month-long initiatives, participating in several events across the country and hosting its first annual Earth Day of Service at its headquarters in Warrenton, VA.

“Celebrating Earth Day is an important tradition for Rainforest Trust,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman. “It gives us a great opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining our planet’s critical ecosystems. It is also a chance for our team to participate locally in activities to protect the planet.”

The two initiatives include an electronics recycling drive in partnership with ALC Recycling and a social media hashtag campaign with N3TWORK Legendary Games of Heroes. Both of these campaigns are still available to participate in! For the electronics recycling drive, Rainforest Trust is collecting unwanted products like flat-screen televisions, computers and cellphones at the Airlie Headquarters Monday through Friday 9am – 5pm until April 30.

To help spread the message of conservation in honor of Earth Day, for every social media post and share from April 1-30 that includes the #SeeTheRainforestFor hashtag, N3TWORK will save one acre of tropical habitat through Rainforest Trust. This campaign is being shared internationally with Rainforest Trust’s local partners in the field, as well as with all the visitors to and participants in the organization’s other Earth Day events.

N3TWORK raised its $75,000 donation to support the purchase of one acre for each use of the hashtag #SeeTheRainforestFor by developing an opportunity for its gamers to earn virtual coins for Rainforest Trust. In the company’s Legendary: Game of Heroes, it modified its system of awarding coins or tokens to appropriately represent Rainforest Trust’s brand to tie into this mechanic.

“Rainforest Trust is doing incredible work to protect the most threatened tropical forests and saving endangered wildlife,”

said Neil Young, founder and CEO of N3TWORK. “We are happy to do our part and support their efforts through a fun in-game event to celebrate Earth Day, where players can help raise funds and awareness for Rainforest Trust.”

Rainforest Trust expanded its local environmental activities with its first full day of service on Saturday, April 21. In addition to running the electronics recycling drive for the day, participants picked up trash along the stretch of route 605 named Airlie Road where Rainforest Trust’s offices are located as part of Virginia Department of Transportation’s Adopt-a-Highway program. Volunteers also conducted a plant installation project in partnership with Fauquier County Parks and Recreation at Rady Park in Warrenton, VA.

“We were incredibly pleased with how many people came out and volunteered with us for Earth Day,” said Rainforest Trust Chief Outreach Officer Marc Ford. “We believe our efforts were both positive and impactful for our local community and our planet.”

The Adopt-a-Highway team covered the entire three mile stretch of road, gathering enough trash to fill nearly 15 trash bags, while the Rady Park team dug flower beds, planted four trees and multiple flowers and then laid mulch to complete the project.

Volunteers were treated to a free picnic lunch provided through a $500 PATH Foundation grant, as well as donations from Chick-fil-a, Giant, Great Harvest, Pizza Hut, Red Hot and Blue and Wegmans. There were also games, arts and crafts made with recycled materials and a forest fire presentation from the Warrenton Volunteer Fire Department in partnership with Virginia’s Department of Forestry.

For the second year in a row, Rainforest Trust attended the Earth Day 50 Challenge, a summit comprising nearly 100 corporate, environmental, academic and philanthropic leaders held alongside EARTHx in Dallas, Texas. Together, these two events ran from April 18-22.

At the Challenge, Rainforest Trust Chief Conservation Officer Dr. George Wallace participated in a panel entitled, Forests: Safeguarding the Final 15%, speaking about the importance of protecting the world’s remaining intact forests and how nongovernmental conservation organizations and corporations can partner to make it happen.

“Many of the world’s largest corporations have global impacts that could be at least partially mitigated by locking arms with the conservation community and working together to protect these vital forest landscapes,” noted Dr. Wallace.

“Intact forests hold vast numbers of species that, while not threatened now, will join the ranks of Earth’s imperiled species if these forests become fragmented or lost altogether. Time is short, the stakes are high, but success is absolutely within reach.”

Rainforest Trust also set up information booths and engaged approximately 150,000 environmentally-conscious people at EARTHx from April 20-22; a couple thousand people at the US Botanic Garden’s 2018 Earth Day Open House on Friday, April 20; and several families at Airlie Conference Center’s Earth Day on Sunday, April 22.

Rainforest Trust would like to thank all of its partners that made this Earth Day a great success!

Climate Change Series Part 5: Rainforest Protection Is Most Efficient Tool in Fight Against Climate Change

In our first installment of this series, we explained that the protection of rainforests and the regrowth that is able to take place because of this security is more cost-efficient than any other currently available method for pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

“The protection of millions of acres of degraded rainforest and their subsequent natural regrowth would result in massive absorption of carbon as the trees grow,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman. “The reality is that stopping rainforest destruction can immediately and cost-effectively buy us a crucially needed breathing space to allow us time to transition away from the use of fossil fuels.”

As we continue to deforest our tropical habitats at unsustainable rates, there will remain a need to actively restore high-risk and heavy impacted areas so they recover to a certain level of biodiversity as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, humans will never be able to do as good of a job recreating habitats as Earth’s natural processes. To create and sustain a rainforest for hundreds of years, the right conditions must exist, and they are almost all interdependent. For example, plants require certain temperatures and precipitation levels to thrive, and yet the local climate is very much dependent on the flora and the amount of oxygen and water vapor they release during photosynthesis (for more information, read our third and fourth installments in this series).

Plants are also highly dependent upon varying types of seed dispersal vectors, including many wildlife species that are native to forested habitats. There is also an interconnection among natural life cycles, nutrient levels in soils provided from decaying matter, plant absorption rates and thousands of species that shape their environments. These are just a few in a very long list.

Active restoration does have its place as an emergency measure, but cannot replicate this complex and delicate web. This is exactly why, when time permits, natural regeneration is the better option.

According to new research released in November 2017, “Natural regeneration surpasses active restoration in achieving tropical forest restoration success for all three biodiversity groups (plants, birds, and invertebrates) and five measures of vegetation structure (cover, density, litter, biomass, and height) tested.”

The report, “Ecological restoration success is higher for natural regeneration than for active restoration in tropical forests,” analyzed 133 studies across the tropics, finding that natural regeneration has up to a 56 percent higher restoration success rate for the above data sets when compared to active restoration.

But what’s even more effective than natural regeneration? Protecting the original forested landscape.

Rainforest Trust focuses its conservation efforts on purchasing and protecting intact tropical forests as the most sustainable and efficient way to protect our entire planet. It has safeguarded over 18 million acres in its 30-year history, with plans to more than double this to 50 million acres by 2020 through the SAVES Challenge.

When Rainforest Trust supports the protection of a threatened landscape, it does so for an average of just $2 per acre. When compared to purchasing an acre of deforested land that is likely privately owned and in agricultural use (meaning the cost is significantly greater with an average of $500 per acre), plus estimated restoration costs of $1,500 an acre, saving an acre of healthy rainforest is the better option.

“Basically, [active] restoration is a highly inefficient use of conservation money compared to securing and protecting areas recently cleared or at risk of clearance! Not only is saving existing forested areas at risk more efficient for the limited financial resources we have, but it is better for climate protection,”

Dr. Salaman said.

The amount of carbon dioxide equivalent safeguarded by preventing the deforestation and degradation of just one acre of rainforest is equal to the emissions of 40 cars in the U.S. Deforestation is currently estimated to be responsible for approximately 15 percent of the world’s total carbon emissions, about as much as the entire global transportation sector.

“While restoration can play an integral role in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, we must first halt the carbon emissions coming from deforestation,” Dr. Salaman said.

If you would like to help in this mission to conserve rainforests and halt deforestation emissions, please visit the Conservation Action Fund, where donations directly support Rainforest Trust’s most urgent projects.

Business in Key Biodiversity Areas: Minimizing the Risk to Nature

Gland, Switzerland, 17 April 2018 (IUCN) – A roadmap for businesses operating in some of the most biologically significant places on the planet has been issued today by the Key Biodiversity Area Partnership involving 12 of the world’s leading conservation organisations – including IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The report, Guidelines on Business and KBAs: Managing Risk to Biodiversity, outlines steps that businesses can take to actively safeguard biodiversity and avoid contributing to its loss. It recommends businesses of all sizes and across all sectors to adopt 15 guidelines to better manage their direct, indirect and cumulative impacts on places deemed critical for the conservation of species and ecosystems worldwide, known as Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs).

The report addresses issues such as avoidance of impacts, limits to biodiversity offsets, as well as financial guarantees and corporate reporting. It guides businesses in managing the potential losses and other risks associated with their negative impact on biodiversity, including potential impacts on access to financing and increased company exposure to negative press.

“These new guidelines will help businesses protect the most important natural places on our planet, and so preserve the natural resources they so strongly depend on,” says Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General. “By managing their impacts on nature, businesses deliver positive conservation results, helping address the escalating crisis of biodiversity loss.”

The report and associated website aim to help businesses demonstrate good environmental practice and compliance with voluntary sustainability standards or certification schemes. It also explains how companies operating in KBAs can make a positive contribution to biodiversity by investing in conservation actions and sharing relevant information about the KBAs, including data collected in Environmental Impact Assessments, baseline studies and monitoring activities, with the KBA Partners. Its aim is to assist governments in authorization decisions related to business operations.

“It is our hope that companies and governments will embed these guidelines into their environmental policies, voluntary sustainable standards, financial safeguards and regulations,” says Patricia Zurtita, CEO of Birdlife International. “But we also need other actors – local communities and policy makers, civil society and scientists – to hold business accountable and ensure that the unique biodiversity that defines Key Biodiversity Areas is safeguarded for all”.

Following the adoption in 2016 of a global standard for the identification of KBAs, the KBA Partnership was created to map, monitor and conserve the areas. More than 15,000 KBAs have been identified so far, many of which currently support commercial activities, such as farming, fisheries, forestry and mining. Although the global KBA network does not yet cover all geographical regions or species groups, the KBA Partnership is working to fill these gaps.

“For the first time the conservation community has come together to use standard criteria to identify the most important sites for conservation of species and habitats on the planet,” says Dr Andrew Plumptre, Head of the Key Biodiversity Areas Secretariat. “Ideally, businesses and governments should avoid any harmful activities at these sites. However, if developments are to go ahead, then this report provides crucial advice on how to minimise negative impacts on the species and habitats for which KBAs are important.”

“The Tiffany & Co. Foundation is proud to support IUCN in this important effort to protect some of the world’s most biologically rich and diverse places,” says Anisa Kamadoli Costa, Chairman and President of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, which funded the project. “These guidelines provide an important roadmap for businesses committed to advancing the long-term preservation and stewardship of the Earth’s natural resources, which all of society depends on.”

Notes to editors

Guidelines on Business and KBAs builds on input provided at an end user consultation workshop held in Gland, Switzerland, from 4 to 5 July 2016, and during a public consultation from 2 December 2016 to 17 March 2017.

A Global Standard for the Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas was adopted by IUCN in April 2016 and launched at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in September of that year. It comprises a set of globally standardised criteria for the identification of KBAs worldwide. It establishes a consultative, science-based process for KBA identification, founded on the consistent application of global criteria with quantitative thresholds that have been developed through an extensive consultation exercise spanning several years.

About the KBA Partnership

The KBA Partnership is made up of 12 of the world’s leading international nature conservation organisations. In addition to IUCN and Birdlife International, this includes: Amphibian Survival Alliance, Conservation International,Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Global Environment Facility, Global Wildlife Conservation, NatureServe, Rainforest Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Wildlife Conservation Society and WWF.

The KBA Partnership aims to enhance global conservation efforts by systematically mapping internationally important sites and ensuring that scarce resources are directed to the most important places for nature. The impact of this vital conservation work will be enhanced by promoting targeted investment in conservation action at priority sites.

www.keybiodiversityareas.org/kba-partners

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:

Ewa Magiera, IUCN Media Relations, Ewa.Magiera@iucn.org, +41765053378

Rainforest Trust-supported Project Gains Community Endorsement

Rainforest Trust is pleased to announce that its Mount Manengouba Herpetological Sanctuary project in Cameroon has received the endorsement of two local communities that had previously withheld their support due to misconceptions.

Members of Cameroon Herpetology-Conservation Biology Foundation (CAMHERP-CBF) and the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), Rainforest Trust’s local partners, worked diligently together to hold community workshops and sensitisation meetings to gain support for the protection of one of the world’s most critical amphibian hotspots.

Rainforest Trust was excited to learn about the project’s progress detailed in the below article written on April 4 by Stanley Acham from ERuDeF.


Ndom, Muandong Elite Approve Creation Of Proposed Mount Manengouba Herpetological Sanctuary

External elite of Ndom and Muandong communities, have endorsed the creation of Proposed Mount Manengouba Herpetological Sanctuary. They gave their blessings during a sensitisation meeting, March 10th 2018, in Ndom and Muandong respectively, in Moungo Division, Littoral Region.

According to the elite, the project to create a sanctuary in the forest adjacent to their community prioritises on the development of the people. They throw their weight on the initiative, bearing in mind that it will bring alternative sources of livelihoods on the people, and development to the community.

“We have listened to the various stakeholders talk about the project to us, and we have clearly defined what our communities stand to gain. We are so grateful that what the government and NGOs have in mind is purely constructive for our community. Giving our people alternative sources of livelihoods will mean more money in their pockets, hence, ameliorating poverty,” elucidated Massane Therese, an elite from Muandong village.

The external elite appreciated government and the facilitating organisations for selecting the Muanenguba area. They apologised for taking while to endorse the project, blaming the delay, on misconceptions, and misinformation.

“We are grateful to have that project being executed in this mountain. I have seen this kind of project being carried out elsewhere, and I can say without mincing words, that the communities adjacent to the protected area, benefited a lot. It is unfortunate that our endorsement took some time. The delay came from misunderstanding on the concrete sense of the project. However, and as you can see, we all have one voice; which is for the government to quickly create the protected area,” indicated, Elung Akoue, an elite from Muandong village.

The perception of the community members before the additional sensitisation was that the project was being executed by World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF). Given that their previous perception and fallout with the organisation, many (especially the elite), had developed cold-feet with respect to their endorsement.

“When we first heard about this project, we thought that it was WWF. This Organisation had worked in this area before. They made a lot of promises to us which they did not fulfil. So, we lost trust in them. This made us not to listen to any organization coming into our community for similar works again,” lamented Ngoula Soume, an elite from Ndom.

After an overview of the project from the technical team from the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), and the Cameroon Herpetology-Conservation Biology Foundation (CAMHERP-CBF), the chief of Ndom, Eposse Pascal, called on the elite to join forces with the indigenes back in the village, in supporting the project until its justifiable end.

On his part, Ekah Elong Yves, an elite of Ndom and a forest technician, explained to the community members more precisely the entirety of the project and what they stand to gain. He urged the community to support the project as it will come with several benefits. It was the same reaction in Muandong village. The Government Delegate of the Nkongsamba City Council, and an elite from Muandong village, elaborated on the purpose of the project.

It was on that note that all the community members pledged their collaboration towards the realization of the proposed Mount Manengouba Herpetological Sanctuary.

Mount Muanenguba which cuts across the Southwest and Littoral regions of Cameroon is said to have a heterogeneous ecosystem, harbouring 100 species of amphibians, 89 species of reptiles and 270 bird species amongst which 60% of them are endemic.

The mountain with height of 2411 meters above sea level, suffers chronic threats from communities living adjacent the mountain. Habitat degradation, which involves conversion of natural land for agricultural land through shifting cultivation, destruction of trees for commercial purposes, overgrazing and trespassing of cattle in streams and water ponds, collection of amphibian and reptile species, amongst others, are the main threats rocking the mountain.

Faced with all of these challenges, Cameroon’s leading conservation NGO, the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), joined forces with the Cameroon Herpetology-Conservation Biology Foundation (CAMHERP-CBF) to conserve the rich biodiversity and Ecosystem of Mount Muanenguba with focus on Amphibians and Reptiles.

The project is being sponsored by Rainforest Trust.

Dr. Eric Veach to Chair Rainforest Trust Board of Directors

Rainforest Trust announced in March that Dr. Eric Veach was elected as the new chair of its board of directors, while Edith McBean was elected as vice chair.

Dr. Veach, a software engineer and former computer graphics researcher who was an early employee at Google, won two technical Academy Awards in 2013 for work he first developed as part of his 1997 PhD thesis at Stanford University. He had served as vice chair of the Rainforest Trust board since 2016.

He and his wife, Luanne Lemmer, have provided key support to a number of Rainforest Trust projects since 2008. Last year, in recognition of their efforts they received the rare honor of having two new species of moths named for them: Chlorosema lemmerae and Rosema veachi.

“The key to saving the world’s threatened species is to save their habitats,” Dr. Veach said. “This is truly one of the most urgent priorities in conservation, considering the tremendous rate at which rainforest is being lost every year — you can’t save a species in the wild if it has no place to live. I am very proud of the incredible work that Rainforest Trust has done so far, and I am looking forward to helping us achieve even more.”

Dr. Veach takes over leadership of the Rainforest Trust board from John Mitchell. Mitchell, an Adjunct Scientist at the New York Botanical Garden and Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution-National Museum of Natural History, had chaired Rainforest Trust since 2002.

Mitchell helped guide Rainforest Trust through a period of recent unprecedented growth, and he will remain active with the board in his new role as chair emeritus.

The board’s new vice chair, Edith McBean, has been on Rainforest Trust’s board since 2014 and serves as chair of its Nominating Committee. McBean has been passionate about conservation for 30 years, and she previously served as Vice Chair of Wildlife Conservation Society in New York for 20 years.

“Eric has been an important supporter of the organization for 10 years, and we are delighted with the passion and commitment he brings to this new role leading our board of directors,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman. “He brings tremendous value to Rainforest Trust through his extraordinary dedication to our mission and his pursuit of tangible and measurable impacts of our work. As a scientist and a donor, he will keep us focused on the most impactful and efficient actions to protect our planet.”

Dr. Salaman added, “I also want to highlight the incredible job John Mitchell did during his 17 years leading our board. We are thrilled that he will continue to be actively involved with Rainforest Trust.”