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.

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

Ewa Magiera, IUCN Media Relations,, +41765053378

Supporter Spotlight: Cindy Starr

Here at Rainforest Trust we are preparing to celebrate Earth Day, and as a lead-up we would like to highlight a supporter who, inspired by this day, has been involved in protecting the rainforest in many ways. Cindy Starr can trace her love for the environment all the way back to the very first Earth Day at the University of Michigan in 1970. It was there that she heard a speech by a leader in the field of ecology that moved her to one day take action.

Fast forward to 2009, and still inspired by her first Earth Day all those years ago, Cindy set out to find an environmental nonprofit to support.

“I was first introduced to Rainforest Trust by a friend, but back then it was relatively small and called World Land Trust US,” she said. “Though small, I continued my support as I felt [the organization] had an immediate impact on climate, species diversity, preservation of land for indigenous peoples and the employment of local residents as patrols… It was essentially a home run nonprofit that covered all the bases.”

Since then Cindy has focused her philanthropy through the lens of “think globally, act locally” but tweaked it to fit her own personal style, as she both supports organizations in her hometown of Cincinnati as well as globally focused nonprofits like Rainforest Trust.

Through Rainforest Trust, Cindy has been able to reach her goal by acting locally through groups like her employer sanctioned “Green Team” and her own personal philanthropy to address the global issues of habitat loss and climate change.

“We started recycling and energy conservation projects at our various office locations, and we began our Earth Week collection of dollars and loose change in our lunch rooms in 2009,” she said. “I recommended Rainforest Trust to the Green Team because I knew that our gift, which would be relatively small, would purchase at least a few acres… Rainforest Trust offered [us] the most bang for the buck.”

Cindy is committed to saving rainforest and protecting the planet, and she finds different ways to work this commitment into her life and the lives of those around her. Besides making regular contributions and encouraging others at her office to do the same, Cindy has included Rainforest Trust in her will. And in 2016, when her daughter was married, she shared her passion with guests.

“The wedding was very eco-minded… It was held in a botanical garden, and the food was vegetarian,” Cindy said. “Because guests depart wedding receptions with their own gift nowadays, my daughter and I wanted the gift to be something that wouldn’t end up in a wastebasket, so we purchased ten acres of Red Panda Forest Reserve habitat in Nepal for every guest.”

All told, through her various channels of giving, Cindy has protected over 1,500 acres of rainforest that not only save species but also support local communities and protect our one and only planet. So this Earth Day, take a page out of the Cindy Starr playbook and get involved so that we can ensure that in another 30 years there will be an Earth left to celebrate!

Camera Traps Provide Insight into Spectacled Bear Populations in Ecuador

Conservationists and researchers working with Rainforest Trust’s partner Fundación Jocotoco installed 20 camera traps in the Antisanilla, Yanancocha and Tapichalaca Reserves in Ecuador as part of a Spectacled Bear study to document the species’ population. Sponsored by Rainforest Trust, this study aims to create a targeted monitoring system that will enable the partner to estimate the amount of bears residing within and passing through these reserves.

This data is crucial to collect, as it is expected that the global species’ population is decreasing due to habitat fragmentation as well as poaching. Rainforest Trust is supporting this study because gathering bear population estimates will enable its partner to better understand how to manage activities within and around the reserves that affect the species. The camera installations could also help monitor changes in the altitudinal distributions of the bears, as well as potentially uncover illegal hunting.

Eight Spectacled Bears have been identified through camera trap evidence in the Tapichalaca Reserve since 2015, and four have been registered in the Yanacocha Reserve. Seven individual bears – including a female and its cub – have been documented in the Antisanilla Reserve, although this data was not gathered during this specific study.

The partner is currently sorting the bear images so they can better identify the individuals by their face markings. In addition to confirming the species’ presence in the reserves, the results of this ongoing study have provided unexpected insights. In some camera trap images, instead of the distinctive black and white facial markings of a Spectacled Bear, researchers saw the piercing caramel eyes of a Puma staring intensely at something just below the camera lens.

Pumas are some of the most widely distributed mammals, as they have a geographic range from Canada down to Chile. Although they are found in numerous countries, these large cats are threatened by the fragmentation of their habitat. They are also challenged by the poaching of their prey, as well as retaliatory hunting if they disturb livestock populations.

A Thriving Sanctuary for Bird Watchers in the Bolivian Amazon

Thanks to support from Douglas Wilson, this Rainforest Trust-site provides protection for highly threatened birds, empowers a local community and prevents logging that would have decimated a vital rainforest habitat.

For centuries, the small village of San Jose de Uchupiamonas, nestled in the Sadiri Mountain of Bolivia, sat isolated in the vast rainforest, surrounded by one of the most mega biodiverse protected areas on the planet. The rainforest supports over 400 bird species, including the Vulnerable Military Macaw. Groups of Vulnerable White-lipped Peccaries are frequently seen in the area, as are Jaguars and Pumas. The jungle breathes life with the symphony of owls, tanagers, tyrannulets, macaws and many others, making it a paradise for bird watchers.

In the late 1990s, the Bolivian government created a 60-mile road through this lush rainforest habitat of Sadiri to the village. Early on in its existence, the road through the rainforest and foothill forest of the mountain put enormous pressure on the delicate forest ecosystem and spurred a rise in the unsustainable logging of the area’s large and valuable Mahogany trees.

In an effort to avert this crisis, Rainforest Trust partnered with the Bolivian organization Pueblo Nuevo to investigate options with the community. The area’s spectacular natural beauty and abundance of biodiversity led the groups to determine that ecotourism was a feasible long-term strategy for conservation in this region.

In 2008, the Uchupiamonas community conceived an idea for Sadiri Lodge to create a touristic sanctuary, with the aim to save the forest and prevent proposed logging projects. The name Sadiri is a derivation from the word S’adiri, which means in the local indigenous language Tacana “the old resting place,” making reference to its location at 2,953 feet, just at the boundary between the Andean highlands and the Amazonian flatlands.

Rainforest Trust’s partner began the tourism development project, and in 2010 the indigenous village of San Jose de Uchupiamonas voted overwhelmingly in favor of a final plan to protect a wide swath of the forest they control by creating a Tourist Refuge (a strict protected area). Rainforest Trust’s partner completed Sadiri Lodge in 2013 and saved over 62,000 acres of rainforest from logging.

Since its establishment, guests and bird watchers have been flocking to Sadiri Lodge from all corners of the world. Some of the most popular wildlife to observe are six different species of macaws, including colorful Blue-and-yellow Macaws, rare Scarlet Macaws and noisy Military Macaws. Visitors can see nine owl species, such as the majestic Rufescent Screech-owl, Subtropical Pygmy-owl and Amazonian Pygmy-owl. There is also a rich variety of endemic birds such as the Rufous-crested Coquette, Yungas Tyrannulet and Emerald Toucanet.

Rainforest Trust President and avid bird watcher, Dr. Robert S. Ridgely, had the privilege of visiting Sadiri Lodge and explained, “If you are fortunate enough to have found your way to Sadiri, it´s safe to say you are in for a fabulous time in some of the most beautiful and pristine lower foothill forest anywhere. The place abounds with birds, from minuscule coquettes to huge and noisy macaws…If you are not a birder, you may become one!…They have created the mecca, and all for the benefit of the indigenous San Jose de Uchupiamonas Community.”

To learn how to support areas that are vital for threatened species and communities, please visit the Conservation Action Fund.

Eco-guards In Action: From Poachers To Protectors

Rainforest Trust is supporting its local partner Conservation des Espèces Marines to create the 12,360-acre Dodo River Community Natural Reserve along the southwestern coast of Côte d’Ivoire.

The primary purpose of this proposed reserve is to protect a key tract of vanishing coastal forest and adjacent wetlands, river, ponds, mangroves and beaches which also serve as a key nesting site for many marine turtles, such as the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle and the Green Turtle, and is the most important nesting site in West Africa for the Vulnerable Leatherback Turtle. Through efforts to protect this important landscape, our local partner is creating a lasting impact throughout the community and inspiring change to protect this habitat and its species.

In 2017, our local partner worked to recruit and train 16 community members who were formerly poachers to become eco-guards for the forest and beach. These eco-guards came from the local villages and bring a wealth of knowledge about the landscape and wildlife which enables them to be vital protectors when they conduct their daily patrols of the areas. The eco-guards work alongside Ministry of Water and Forestry agents and Maritime police agents. Collaboration between the local eco-guards and government agents ensures that the importance of protecting this area and its species is acknowledged and valued across sectors.

From July to December of 2017, the trained eco-guards were able to identify and remove 147 cable snare traps from the proposed reserve area. The local partner is already seeing wildlife return to the area, and the seasoned eco-guards have discovered a possible Leopard track and evidence of the possible presence of the Endangered Pygmy Hippopotamus. In addition, they heard the calls of the Sooty Mangabey, a monkey species which is under high threat from deforestation and hunting for its meat. The eco-guards also actively patrol the shorelines day and night to protect female turtles laying their eggs, prevent egg poaching and provide oversight as turtle hatchlings journey to the ocean.

A key component to ensuring lasting conversation success in areas inhabited by humans is that the local community members are engaged in conservation efforts and that they believe in the importance of conserving the area. Rainforest Trust is thrilled that the eco-guards are deeply committed to regional conservation efforts and that they are actively gaining the support of their friends and families to protect the future Dodo River Community Natural Reserve.

To learn how to support projects like the Dodo River Community Natural Reserve, please visit the Conservation Action Fund.


Supporter Spotlight: Sisters Use Their Love of Arts and Crafts to Save Acres

Rainforest Trust shares a dream with our supporters: that rainforests and the species that call them home will survive far into the future, beyond our lifetimes and those of our children and grandchildren. Safeguarding these crucial habitats is a gift for the future, a legacy of which we are proud. We are always inspired by the children who support our work and were thrilled to learn about two sisters from the UK, Emily and Ava Ford (ages 9 and 7), who decided to save the rainforest in a very unique way: by making and selling lizard keyrings.

Emily and Ava first became interested in the rainforest at school. Their teacher gave a presentation on the Brazilian rainforest and its importance which captivated the girls. Their mother, Rachael, recalls, “Emily came home from school that day and was totally enthused about the idea of raising money to save acres of the rainforest.” Seeing as the girls also have a love for arts and crafts, Rachael encouraged them to combine their interests, and thus the lizard keyring was born.

“Emily and Ava love arts and crafts, so we decided to make the lizard keyrings out of pony beads and ribbon to sell at school,” said Rachael. “The girls were so excited by the project that they even produced their own hand drawn posters.” All-in-all the girls made around 90 lizards at home over a two week period. Most exciting, the girls got their classmates involved by running two lizard making workshops during lunchtimes for ten other girls at school, who helped to make an extra 20 keyrings. “We then sold the lizard keyrings over a two day period at school for £1 each and they went like wildfire!” said Rachael. The lizard keyrings were so popular that they still had people asking for them days after the sale was over, including our very own Rainforest Trust staff.

So what was it exactly about the rainforests that sparked this outpouring of creativity and generosity from the girls? “The rainforest is important because if it is destroyed we wouldn’t get enough oxygen or water,” said Emily. “I love animals and know that thousands of species of animals live in the rainforest and I want to protect them,” Ava added.

“The rainforest provides food, oxygen, water and even medicine to make people better…we need to protect it!”

“Each lizard took around 15 minutes to produce, so I was amazed by the girls’ patience and persistence with the project,” said Rachael. “The whole project was incredibly rewarding and educational [for Emily and Ava]…the girls were creative, working on the computer and communicating with teachers. I would seriously encourage schools and groups of children to get involved with similar charitable projects, as it really is beneficial for confidence, literacy, computer skills, learning the value of money and making children feel like they are actually doing something to save our planet.”

And indeed they are doing something very important to help save the planet! But the girls also realize that this problem does not have a quick fix and it will take the dedication of many to solve. “The rainforest is in danger, which causes problems that affect us all, so I would expect other children to save it with me!” stated Emily.

With the proceeds from their sales and their desire to protect Brazilian rainforest, Emily and Ava chose to support our Blue-eyed Ground-dove project in Brazil, which is now fully funded and protected thanks in part to their efforts. The enthusiasm for and dedication to conservation that these young girls exhibited gives us hope and excitement for what the next generation can achieve to help save our Earth’s rainforests.

If you would like to help join Emily and Ava’s fight to save the rainforest, please visit Rainforest Trust’s Conservation Action Fund. For more information about how to donate to Rainforest Trust’s projects from the UK, please visit the Rainforest Trust UK home page.

Climate Change Series Part 4: The Unique, Cyclical Relationship between Climate and Tropical Forests

As previously discussed in our climate change series, there are multiple ways that tropical forests affect our global climate from carbon sequestration and deforestation emissions to cloud and precipitation formation. However, the relationship is not one-sided. Global climate, and more specifically the drastic changes we are causing, will also significantly impact our tropical forests.

Global temperatures are predicted to rise by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the effects on tropical forests will be tremendous. A “positive feedback loop” – referring to events or changes that further enhance more changes, pulling away from equilibrium – will most certainly be the outcome for Earth’s tropical rainforests.

This is how it works: by cutting down or burning tropical forests, the carbon stored in the plants’ mass is released into the atmosphere. The reduction in tropical plants also results in lower production of water vapor and isoprene, which means less cloud formation and precipitation. More frequent and severe droughts are likely as temperatures rise and cloud coverage and precipitation decreases. Since all plants – but tropical plants in particular – need a lot of water to survive, droughts have the potential to wipe out large swaths of rainforests. As the plants die as a result of drought, they release their stored carbon. Also, once the amount of dead and dried foliage increases, the risk of forest fires (both natural and man-made) increases. Using the increased dead plant material as fuel, the forest fire will consume even healthy plants that survived the drought. Losing tropical plants to drought and fire, combined with other sources of deforestation, brings us back to the beginning of the cycle with adding more carbon emissions to the atmosphere. And again, with more carbon in the atmosphere and fewer plants generating clouds, there will be warmer temperatures and reduced precipitation patterns. This cycle will continue to spiral out of control unless we put a stop to it.

“The relationship between deforestation and climate change is widely recognized, but the effects of climate change on forests are still being uncovered. This devastating cycle makes protecting the tropical rainforests that we still have even more urgent,”

said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman.

For example, when the Amazon River Basin suffered a “once in a century” drought in 2005, up to 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere as a result of damage from the lack of water resources. Then in 2010, for the second time in five years, the region faced an extreme drought that should only occur once every 100 years. Together, these two droughts are responsible for releasing as much carbon dioxide as what the forest typically takes in over 10 years, according to a University of Leeds article. New research from the American Geophysical Union predicts that if deforestation rates within the entire Amazon basin remain high, the annual precipitation amount will be equal to the amount the region receives in what is now considered to be a drought year, making this the norm by 2050. Not only will this be catastrophic for the Amazon rainforest and the species and communities that depend upon it, but also for all the agricultural producers who have cut down the forest to make way for their farms. It also negatively affects communities and businesses in other parts of the world that receive precipitation created in the Amazon rainforest and transported across the globe, according to an article in The New York Times.

But, of course, it’s not that simple. Carbon dioxide is a necessary “fuel” for photosynthesis. During other historical times of elevated levels of CO2, there has been an increase in plant growth, as plants pull additional amounts of the gas out of the atmosphere. This is also happening now, according to the recent study Greening of the Earth and its drivers. The study’s authors found that global vegetation is currently experiencing a growth period, referred to as “greening,” 70 percent of which is due to increased carbon dioxide.

Unfortunately, scientists do believe that there is a threshold above which additional CO2 will not result in more robust plants, as they adjust to the rising carbon dioxide levels and growth diminishes over time. However, this remains one of the biggest causes of uncertainty in determining future climate scenarios being conducted by the IPCC, because researchers have not yet figured out when plants will reach their saturation point, according to co-author of the study and Exeter University Professor Pierre Friedlingstein.

Rainforest Trust is working diligently to mitigate the negative causes of this feedback loop by purchasing and protecting tropical lands through community engagement and local partnerships in places such as the Amazon. Through its SAVES Challenge, the conservation organization has committed to protecting 50 million acres by 2020, making a large impact on protecting our forests and the ecosystem benefits they provide all living creatures on Earth.

If you would like to help Rainforest Trust reach this goal, please visit its Conservation Action Fund.

Supporter Spotlight: Suzanne Davenport

A friend of tapirs and of the rainforest: Celebrating the life of Suzanne Davenport

As 2017 has drawn to a close, I would like to veer away from the usual “year in review” posts and invite you to join us here at Rainforest Trust in celebrating the life of Suzanne Davenport, a longtime supporter and dear friend whom we sadly lost in 2017.

Suzanne was well known as “The Tapir Lady” at Rainforest Trust due to her love for the rainforest-dwelling “pig with a trunk” (although Suzanne would be sure to let you know they are more closely related to horses and rhinoceroses than pigs). Over the years, she worked tirelessly to support and volunteer with organizations that provided protection to tapirs and was a donor to Rainforest Trust.

As we celebrate Suzanne’s life, we found ourselves asking, “Why the tapir?” What was it about this unusual species that captured Suzanne’s heart and served as a microcosm for how Suzanne approached life? Luckily, her husband, Scott, had the answer and shared her amazing story with us.

“Suzanne first came across a tapir at the Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart, Germany,” recalled Scott. “The way she told it to me, a woman next to her made a disparaging remark about their attractiveness and perceived intelligence and Suzanne felt obligated to stick up for them.” And through this small exchange one could learn all they needed to accurately sum up Suzanne’s values: a champion of the downtrodden who stuck up for those who could not do so for themselves, but also someone who was incredibly positive, seeing the best in all those around her and who absolutely loved providing others the opportunity to shine.

It was Suzanne’s love for the tapir that first brought her into contact with Rainforest Trust. She discovered our organization at our April 27 observation of World Tapir Day, an event that she was heavily involved in through her work with the Tapir Specialist Group in Brazil.

“When she began speaking with the folks who were working with tapirs it became obvious that their biggest enemy was the loss of habitat and the incursion of roads into their areas,” recalled Scott. “So finding an organization whose efforts were focused on preservation in the way that [Rainforest Trust is] was very exciting to her.”

That excitement translated into years of generous support and since 2011, Suzanne raised awareness and funds for several of our South American and Southeast Asian projects where tapirs would receive protection. In addition to supporting Rainforest Trust projects, Suzanne regularly held CrowdRise events to promote awareness and raise funds for Rainforest Trust and tapirs. A classically trained pianist, she rallied her musician friends and established “Tapir Aid,” a music event aimed at promoting the plight of the tapir.

“It was really the tapirs and the habitat preservation that sparked the more active role in raising awareness that she developed over the last 7-8 years,” Scott continued. “When she realized how many people the internet and social media could mobilize she definitely started to think bigger…and that was how the two ‘Tapir Aid’ concerts came to be.”

Suzanne was a firm believer in the ability of the individual to drive change, and the more individuals that came together, the greater their ability to drive even bigger change.”

Suzanne’s passion for change has led to an outpouring of support in the wake of her passing, both from friends and family as well as from the organizations promoting the causes she held so dear. Suzanne has certainly left us all with some big shoes to fill, and though she may be gone – she will certainly not be forgotten. Thanks to her big heart and personality, Suzanne’s impact will live on. Since 2011, Suzanne was responsible for protecting 3,986 acres of rainforest habitat through Rainforest Trust’s SAVES Challenge.


Rainforest Trust is grateful for the generous support of Suzanne and Scott Davenport. 

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




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=”” 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.