How We Do It
Rainforest Trust purchases and protects the most threatened tropical forests, saving endangered wildlife through partnerships and community engagement. Through these highly effective partnerships, we can ensure sustainable results necessary for the long-term protection of tropical ecosystems and the wildlife they hold.
Our unique, cost-effective conservation model for protecting endangered species has been implemented successfully for over 30 years.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the expertise of our partners and the participation of local communities across the tropics, our reserves are exemplary models of international conservation.
Protected Area Types
Land acquisition is the most simple and straightforward approach to protected area creation. Rainforest Trust’s local partners purchase land and convert it into private nature reserves. Compared to other methods, land acquisition is a swift process.
With a land purchase, the local partner can quickly negotiate and obtain the land, immediately blocking any impending threats. With a legal land title, the local partner has ultimate control over the property, making land acquisition the most secure type of protected area.
Some of Rainforest Trust’s partners have also established protected areas through land designations. Working with their respective governments and communities, they create national parks and public reserves.
While the process can take months or years to complete as local partners navigate complicated legal systems and bureaucratic channels, land designation projects can safeguard entire landscapes far larger than is ever feasible through outright purchases. These projects can secure vast tracts of pristine wildlife habitat over millions of acres at low costs – sometimes less than a dollar per acre.
Community-managed areas are a third approach to protected area creation. These reserves secure communal lands often occupied by indigenous groups who depend on the land for their survival. Spearheaded by the area’s native people, this process is an exemplary model of bottom-up, participatory conservation.
Residents lead the charge to have their lands formally designated as protected areas by their government. Much like other types of land designation, community managed reserves can be slow to establish but are relatively inexpensive and can span vast areas.
After establishing a new protected area, Rainforest Trust’s local partner implements a comprehensive conservation management plan to safeguard the nature reserve’s wildlife and ensures the site’s long-term sustainability.
Forest guards are at the heart of this vital effort, often hired from the surrounding community and trained to monitor the new reserve.
The SAVES Challenge
In September 2016, Rainforest Trust launched the SAVES (Safeguarding Areas Vital to Endangered Species) Challenge, an initiative to ramp up efforts to create protected areas and save the world’s most threatened species. This initiative was made possible by a passionate donor who has pledged to match every dollar raised by Rainforest Trust up to $50 million through 2020.
Rapid Protected Feasibility Awards
Protected areas are the most effective strategy for preventing habitat loss and saving species. But establishing new protected areas is a complex and challenging process, unique to each and every site. Recognizing these challenges, Rainforest Trust provides Rapid Protected Area Feasibility Awards to empower local partners and researchers to explore how protected areas can be implemented, and in some cases confirm they are the most effective conservation strategy for a particular site or species.