Here are answers to some of the most common questions asked about how we protect rainforest and more.

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About Rainforest Trust

How is Rainforest Trust different?

Rainforest Trust’s sole mission is to strategically buy and protect threatened tropical lands to save endangered species. Our established network of knowledgeable, local conservation organizations helps us identify key areas under imminent threat, which are often the last remaining habitats of endangered species. We then move quickly to raise money to create and expand reserves to protect these biodiverse areas before they’re destroyed.

Why is your office located in Warrenton, VA, and not in nearby Washington DC?

There are considerable advantages to Rainforest Trust’s location outside the nation’s capital. The costs of renting and running an office are dramatically lower in Warrenton than in DC, and the funds we save go toward conservation efforts.

How does 100% of my project donation go toward conservation?

Donations to Rainforest Trust are not symbolic. Thanks to the support of our board members who cover the majority of our operating expenses, Rainforest Trust is able to allocate 100% of your project donation directly to conservation action.

Each project donation protects real rainforest acres and saves endangered species. We focus on tangible results. Your contribution does not support lobbying, political activities, or special interests.

For more than 25 years, Rainforest Trust is proud to have maintained minimal overhead thanks to our small, dedicated, and passionate team of conservationists. For our size and achievements, Rainforest Trust is one of the most efficient international conservation NGOs in the United States.

Our 2014 operating expenses, which include administration and development costs, composed only 7% of our total expenditure. See our 990 and audited financial statements online.

Charity Navigator consistently awards Rainforest Trust its highest 4-star rating due to our outstanding cost efficiency.

Our conservation actions focus on the purchase and permanent protection of critical habitat for the most endangered species across the tropics. We do this efficiently and most effectively by supporting experienced in-country, community-based organizations that have a track record of achievement. We also undertake rainforest conservation outreach to raise public awareness.

We are extremely grateful that our committed board members fund the majority of our operating expenses. This enables us to ensure that 100% of your project donation is restricted to conservation action.

Saving Acres

How does Rainforest Trust protect threatened species and their habitats?

Rainforest Trust preserves threatened areas through the establishment of public and private nature reserves managed by our experienced local conservation partners.

What are public reserves?

In order to protect large areas that are not for sale, we support the creation and protection of government-owned reserves.

In this case, Rainforest Trust’s goal is to create officially designated protected areas that are declared national parks or reserves by government decree. Rainforest Trust donations enable our in-country conservation partners to develop and implement long-term protection plans, which involve the active participation and support of local and indigenous communities.

What are private reserves?

Another conservation strategy is to purchase land directly from a private owner.  These acres are used to create or enlarge an existing reserve, which is then managed by one of our local conservation partners.

Even purchasing a small number of acres can protect a much larger surrounding area. For example, a strategic purchase may block access to unprotected rainforest, sparing it from logging, mining or oil exploration. In other cases, the creation of private reserves can act as a catalyst for the eventual establishment of larger public reserves.

Who actually owns the acres?

While Rainforest Trust raises the necessary funds to protect real acres in real places, neither Rainforest Trust nor our donors own them. The acres are ultimately bought and preserved as nature reserves by Rainforest Trust’s local conservation partners.

A national park or reserve given protected status by a foreign government may require active protection by non-governmental organizations, but it is not owned by the NGOs; it belongs to the government.

How can I learn where ‘my’ acres are located? Can I see them?

Historically, we have not been able to identify an individual’s acres within a project site. However, we will soon be able to provide donors with a link to view the acres they’ve saved for certain projects on Google Earth. Many of the reserves supported by Rainforest Trust offer eco-tourism opportunities and welcome visitors.

What happens to the land after it has been protected?

Rainforest Trust and our local partners develop a management plan aimed at securing protection in perpetuity. Each project, because of its urgency and degree of threat, comes with a unique set of challenges, but long-term conservation of the land and its wildlife is always the ultimate objective.

In addition to land protection, Rainforest Trust helps develop forms of sustainable and environmentally friendly income activities, especially ecotourism, for local communities.

How can you ensure that the land is adequately protected and not used or destroyed after it has been purchased?

The essential element of all our projects is that we work with local people to educate them about the landscapes and empower them to save the wildlife that surrounds them.

By involving local conservationists and communities, we considerably reduce the risk of encroachment. In many cases, local people are aware of nearby threats and can avoid potential conflicts. We believe that providing employment for local people is an effective method to ensure long-term security for the land and its wildlife.

How do you decide where to buy land?

Every potential project that comes to Rainforest Trust is thoroughly evaluated based on a set of project selection criteria. This includes consideration of the price per acre, biodiversity, environmental health assessments, actual and potential threats, and the partner’s ability to provide ongoing protection. The in-depth review ensures that the land that is purchased is of high conservation value and will meet our standards for long-term protection.

What role do your in-country partner organizations play?

Our work would not be possible without the ongoing partnerships we maintain with outstanding conservation organizations around the world. All projects are implemented by local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Our partners are responsible for ongoing management of the land. They also engage in community outreach and education efforts such as helping train local residents to act as park guards, wildlife monitors and eco-guides. Visit Our Partners to learn more about these organizations and the work they do.

Getting Involved

How can I help support Rainforest Trust?

Whether you create a Crowdrise campaign, shop for Rainforest Trust gear or donate a vehicle, there are many ways you can help. Visit the Ways to Give page for more ideas on how you can be a part of conservation efforts.

How does buying products on your site help the rainforests?

Rainforest Trust is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and does not sell merchandise. All retail items advertised on www.rainforesttrust.org are sold by Zazzle, a third-party vender. To complete transactions you will be directed to www.zazzle.com. Rainforest Trust receives a 10% royalty from all Zazzle sales.  These royalties go directly toward Rainforest Trust’s conservation projects.

How can I get my school to help save rainforest?

There are many ways Rainforest Trust can assist you and your school with helping to save threatened rainforest acres. Our Rainforest Ambassadors program not only fosters learning about the wonders of the rainforest through educational curricula, but also offers students the opportunity to protect it.