2017 Regional Overview: Asia and Pacific

In 2017, Rainforest Trust expanded its global reach and worked in Australia for the first time. With 150,486 acres protected across Asia, the conservation organization made huge strides forward to protect critical habitat and endangered species.

A great accomplishment was the protection of the 44,726-acre Caloola property on the Cape York Peninsula of Australia. This was the largest land purchase that Rainforest Trust has supported and remarkably, this property is almost entirely undisturbed habitat. The Caloola property strategically creates a permanent connection among a vast network of protected areas that spans over 700,000 acres. The area contains 28 regional ecosystems, 20 of which have low or no representation in the Australian protected area network. Water for Cooktown is sourced from the Annan River that runs beside the Caloola property. The presence of a very significant population of the Endangered Northern Quoll has been confirmed on the protected area, as well as Bennett’s Tree Kangaroos and several Vulnerable and Near Threatened bat species.

In addition to supporting its Australian partner in the purchase of the Caloola property, the conservation groups also helped create the 173.5-acre Misty Mountain Nature Reserve. This site now functions as a wildlife corridor and safeguards the remaining missing link to complete a nearly 3 million-acre high priority rainforest mosaic in Australia’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. While this region has been a national priority, the high altitude rainforests on volcanic basalt have been very extensively cleared and are highly fragmented. Connecting the remaining areas was essential for the long term survival of many charismatic  rainforest species within Queensland.

Rainforest Trust also worked to expand the Daintree National Park. The Daintree Rainforest is among the oldest rainforests on Earth and is the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest remaining in Australia. Because of the Daintree’s unique evolutionary history and wealth of wildlife, it has been declared a Wet Tropics World Heritage Site, with Daintree National Park lying at the center of protection efforts. However, encroaching housing development around the park’s borders threatens to fragment forests and disrupt wildlife through human traffic and the introduction of exotic plants. Purchasing and securing private properties in this area has helped reduce the risk of habitat fragmentation and consolidates protected areas within the Daintree.

In the Philippines, Rainforest Trust and a local partner established a refuge for the Critically Endangered Palawan Forest Turtle, one of the 25 most threatened turtle species in the world. 2,413 acres were designated by the municipal government of Mendoza, and Rainforest Trust is working diligently with its partner to expand this protection to total 4,552 acres. Rainforest Trust also worked with another local partner to establish the Hibusong Wildlife Sanctuary of 1,390 acres on the biodiverse island of Dinagat. The sanctuary is the first in a series of four new protected areas that will comprise more than 17,800 acres in the coming year to secure forest and coastal habitat. Dinagat Island is recognized as a Key Biodiversity Area, with numerous threatened species such as the Golden-crowned Flying Fox, Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat and the Dinagat Moonrat. Before the sanctuary was established by Rainforest Trust and its partner, there were no protected areas on Dinagat.

In Malaysia, Rainforest Trust permanently protected a 34,414-acre former logging concession in the last great forests of Northern Borneo. This vital habitat for Critically Endangered Bornean Orangutans and Sunda Pangolins is now incorporated into the Kuamut Forest Reserve, which safeguards the last vulnerable flank of the pristine forest of the world-renowned Danum Valley Conservation Area.

Rainforest Trust also supported a land purchase to create a critical wildlife corridor in Borneo to secure a safe passage for Pygmy Elephants. This project with a local partner protects the Kinabatangan Corridor which links two wildlife reserves and provides orangutans and elephants with safe passage along the northern banks of the Kinabatangan River, one of Malaysia’s most beautiful rainforest wetlands. This land within the corridor was sought by the oil palm industry, making its protection all the more urgent. Now a lifeline for Pygmy Elephants, the new protected area is frequented by other imperiled wildlife such as Sun Bears, Clouded Leopards and Bornean Ground-cuckoos. The corridor’s benefits even extend to the local community, conserving traditional fishing grounds and providing ecotourism opportunities to support their livelihoods.

In Indonesia, Rainforest Trust and a local partner conserved vital nesting grounds for the Endangered Maleo in northern Sulawesi. As one of Asia’s most iconic birds, Maleos build mounds to incubate their eggs through volcanic and solar-heated sand in large colonial nesting grounds, a natural spectacle that leaves the eggs exceptionally vulnerable to harvesting. With a nearly 90 percent decline in population size since 1950, it is estimated that fewer than 5,000 of these birds remain in the wild. These 316 acres secured by Rainforest Trust and its local partner will contribute to the overall project which will form a 47,328-acre protected area of nesting sites, coastal habitat, forest conservation area and agroforestry buffer zone.

In the Republic of Palau, Rainforest Trust supported a crucial land purchase to save Endangered Megapodes. The reserve is the first private land converted to a protected area on the island of Peleliu, and it protects a vital foraging area for the Micronesian Scrubfowl, known locally as the Micronesian Megapode. The site also contains a famous WWII memorial, as it is notoriously the location of the longest and bloodiest battle of the Pacific war.

In Myanmar, Rainforest Trust and a local partner created the 66,965-acre Kaydoh Mae Nyaw Wildlife Sanctuary which protects subtropical broadleaf forest and provides a safe haven for wildlife such as the Asian Elephant, Tiger, Dhole, Banteng, Phayre’s Leaf-monkey and two species of Pangolin – the Sunda and Chinese – both of which are Critically Endangered. Rainforest Trust’s local partner is ensuring that the protected area is managed by the indigenous community, and conservation efforts will focus on collaborative management and capacity building in the form of patrolling and law enforcement, protected area infrastructure and awareness programs. Community development and education programs as well as agricultural assistance and alternative livelihood programs ensure ongoing community commitment to conservation.

 

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: Africa

In Kenya this year, Rainforest Trust supported the protection of over one million acres to safeguard the world’s most endangered antelope, the Hirola.  This new conservancy will not only safeguard the Hirolas that currently call this region home, but will also help the species recover by re-establishing a free-ranging population between protected areas. Other species that will benefit from this refuge include Reticulated Giraffes, Grevy’s Zebras, African Savannah Elephants, African Wild Dogs, Lions, Cheetahs and several antelope species.

Rainforest Trust’s local partner is now preparing to compensate community members for the conservancy land by conducting land surveys and studying detailed settlement plans. Obtaining the registration certificate for Bura East Conservancy means community members are now empowered and officially have the legal backing to operate conservation efforts in their conservancy. In partnership with the local conservation organization and the county government, the communities will hold the land in trust for the conservation of wildlife in the area. The communities will act as guarantors for Bura East Conservancy and a future adjacent conservancy, which will both be incorporated into local area development plans. Together, these conservancies will protect 1.2 million acres, the largest conservation area in northeastern Kenya.

This part of Kenya also gained international attention this year after two white Reticulated Giraffes were seen  in the region where Rainforest Trust and its partner are protecting habitat. The white color is due to a genetic abnormality called “leucism,” a condition which affects many species and turns their appearance white. According to the partner’s blog, sightings of white giraffes around the Hirola range have increased in the past few years and recently, these two particular giraffes have been a common sight in the region.

Dr. Sally Lahm, Rainforest Trust’s Africa and Madagascar Conservation Officer explained, “There are fewer than 98,000 giraffes in populations scattered across the African continent. They already appear to be extinct in at least seven countries. Some giraffe populations are increasing while others are decreasing due to threats which vary among regions where they exist. The four major threats are habitat loss, civil unrest, illegal hunting and ecological changes in preferred habitats. [Our partner’s] project to create two new conservancies for Hirola antelope with local communities provides protection and monitoring for all wildlife populations, including giraffes.”

Rainforest Trust continues to support its partner in creating the adjacent conservancy and is excited for the work they will achieve in 2018.

 

Thank you to the generous support of our friends around the world and the SAVES Challenge, for making this project a success. 

For more information on how you can support Rainforest Trust, visit our Conservation Action Fund.

Supporter Spotlight: James DeKay and Jill Vaughan

Mother and son embrace the gift of conservation.

Once again the season of giving is upon us and with it comes a tale of a mother and son who chose to forego traditional gift giving and instead embrace the gift of protecting acres. James DeKay, a Rainforest Trust supporter since 2009, and his mother Jill Vaughan, a supporter since 2015, both grew up with a deep love and appreciation for nature and conservation.

“I am fortunate that my parents enjoyed, appreciated and, it seems now, revered nature,” Jill recalled. “In walks through the woods, my father would point out animal tracks and scat and walked as if he truly revered the forest.” From a young age, Jill’s parents instilled in her an appreciation for nature that has stayed with her throughout her life and one that she made sure she passed on to her son. “My mother was always deeply connected to nature and she shared her appreciation for it with me,” stated James.

So, when it came time to give back, James chose to do so in a manner that would honor not only his mother, but also the reverence for nature she gained as a young girl exploring the gorges of Ithaca, New York with her father. “It was my younger son, James, who introduced me to Rainforest Trust,” Jill explained. “It was on my birthday that I received from James a Rainforest Trust certificate and word of his donation.” Later that year Jill decided to take a cue from her son and gave him a gift of protected acres for his birthday.

“I am proud of our decision to celebrate our birthdays by avoiding the traditional gifts and choosing instead to honor each other with donations that help protect the rainforests of the Earth,” Jill stated. A love of nature has been a driving force in both of their lives, and upon their discovery of Rainforest Trust they knew their donations would be directly supporting the environment and its species.

“I used Charity Navigator several years ago to find a small or mid-sized organization where I knew my occasional donations could make a difference,” explained James. “I was very happy to find Rainforest Trust whose priorities, strategies, medium size and overall efficacy motivated me enormously…here was an organization where my giving could make a difference, and, talk about a bang for my buck!”

But it’s not just the value that they get from their donations that keeps them coming back to Rainforest Trust year after year, it’s the impact that the nonprofit’s work has on present and future generations. “I give to Rainforest Trust because you work to preserve beauty, majesty, mysteries, amazing species evolved over millions of years, astoundingly complex relationships among those species and others and because your work is part of the Earth’s recent heritage,” said James. He continued, “You identify endangered and threatened species, and you protect acres that do a great deal to trap carbon dioxide or prevent its release into the atmosphere…anyone who has studied climate change even superficially knows that trapping the heat-causing gases is a part of the equation to doing what we can do to prevent worst case scenarios.”

In the end though, Jill’s words about why she supports Rainforest Trust are the ones that really hit home about the importance of the organization’s conservation work:

“Perhaps it is this moment that you tell yourself you must do more for all the birds, all this beauty, all of the water, those stately trees, the hidden worms – all of it. You want the life within there to survive and thrive. Our donations are what we need to cherish and protect what could again be a remarkable Earth.”

“Rainforest Trust makes me feel it is keeping our Earth for all of those who come next and next and next.”

For more information on ways that you can give the gift of conservation, you can visit our Conservation Action Fund.
 

HEADER IMAGE: James DeKay.

 

Climate Change Series Part 3 – Tropical Forests Impact Climate in More Ways than Just CO2

So far, our climate change series has investigated how tropical forests are significant carbon sinks and how deforestation and forest degradation are major sources of carbon dioxide emissions. But did you know that rainforests affect atmospheric gases and our climate in less well known, but equally important, ways?

“Tropical forests play an integral role in local and regional climates,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman, “and carbon storage is only half the story.”

The other half of the story has to do with rainforests creating cloud coverage and precipitation, both of which have a significant impact on local, regional and even global climate.

We have discussed photosynthesis, and its importance for carbon dioxide absorption. However, another equally important action plants conduct within this process is transpiration. When plants absorb water up from their roots, they convert the excess into water vapor and release it through small pores in their leaves. According to the United States Geological Survey, one large tree can release as much as 40,000 gallons of water back into the atmosphere every year. This has a direct effect on cloud coverage and precipitation patterns, and provides about 10 percent of the atmosphere’s moisture.
 

Which way is the water moving in Peru’s Amazon Rainforest? Photo courtesy of Thomas Mueller

 
Tropical plants also release the volatile organic compound isoprene as a byproduct of photosynthesis. Isoprene mixes with other gases in our atmosphere and creates secondary organic aerosols, which form ozone. Ozone is an essential part of our upper atmosphere, blocking the sun’s ultraviolet light and reducing our risk of skin cancer. However, when ozone is created in our lower atmosphere, it contributes to the development of clouds.

Cloud coverage acts as a regulator of local and regional temperatures in two ways. It provides precipitation as the clouds travel across the land and it provides higher albedo, or reflectivity of the sun’s rays. Clouds, much like ice and snow, reflect sunlight back into space better than the dark canopies of rainforest. This has a direct cooling effect locally and when considering tropical forests en masse, the planet as a whole. In fact, according to John Cook from the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Washington University, just a 1 percent reduction in albedo (including from cloud coverage, ice and snow) could increase global temperatures on a level equal to the doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Although these contributions come from all tropical forests, as the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon releases the most oxygen, water vapor and isoprene, making it perhaps the most significant, natural contributor to the regulation of global atmospheric gases and climate. Amazon rainforest transpiration is so important that in the late dry season it is integral for bringing on each new wet season.

“These forests are self-propagating, in a sense; by holding moisture and maintaining temperature, they help create the very rains that sustain them in the wet season, Dr. Salaman said.”

Rainforest Trust has been working to protect tropical forests in Central and South America since our start in 1988. Thus far, we have protected nearly 10 million acres throughout the region, with plans to expand our efforts over the next few years, as part of our incredible directive to protect 50 million acres globally by 2020 through the SAVES Challenge. Some of our largest, current projects in the region include the expansion of the Airo Pai Community Reserve along with other conservation efforts in the Peruvian Amazon and the expansion of the Canande Reserve in Ecuador.

Support Rainforest Trust’s Work to Preserve Climate-Regulating Habitat around the World.
 

HEADER IMAGE: Double Rainbow forms over tropical forest in Peru. Photo courtesy of Rainforest Trust

 

Climate Change Series Part 2 – Rainforest Destruction is a Major Contributor to Global CO2 Emissions

Our first story in Rainforest Trust’s climate change series focused on how tropical forests naturally sequester carbon dioxide, thereby helping to regulate a significant component of global climate change: the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. However, when a tropical forest is damaged or destroyed by, e.g. logging or burning, the carbon stored in the soils and plants’ above-ground mass is released back into the atmosphere, actually significantly contributing to our growing CO2 emissions problem.

Unfortunately, our global tropical forest coverage is drastically being reduced each year. Originally, six million square miles (3.84 billion acres) of tropical rainforests existed worldwide. Now, there are only 2.4 million square miles (1.536 billion acres). And, although tropical deforestation rates slowed in the 2000s compared to the rates in the 1990s, estimates show they are once again increasing this decade. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), current tropical deforestation is occurring at a rate that is some 8.5 percent greater than it was in the 1990s. This equates to nearly 70,000 acres of rainforest lost every single day.

Deforestation and degradation of all the world’s forests release immense quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, second only to the burning of fossil fuels. Tropical deforestation alone accounts for approximately 15 percent of net global carbon emissions. This amounts to about the same carbon emissions as the entire global transportation sector (e.g. cars, trucks, ships, etc.), according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change report.

By preventing deforestation through the creation of protected areas, Rainforest Trust prevents carbon emissions and safeguards the planet’s resilience to climate change. In all the projects Rainforest Trust has begun working on just since May 2016, initial estimates of above-ground carbon storage come to 669,371,577 metric tons. If released to the atmosphere, that would be equivalent to the carbon emissions of more than 142 million cars per year.

Therefore, halting deforestation and degradation can be an integral part of climate change mitigation.

“Tropical forest conservation and restoration could constitute half of the global warming solution, according to a recent peer reviewed commentary in Nature Climate Change,” Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman stated in his Guardian Editorial.

“Deforestation in the name of economic development has occurred routinely over many decades without regard to its devastating consequences. It is completely unsustainable for governments to continue to provide concessions, subsidies and tax breaks to business when logging, mining, fires, palm oil plantations, large scale commercial agriculture, cattle ranching and road construction continue to diminish the earth’s finite, invaluable rainforests,” Dr. Salaman said.

The bottom line is that when a forest is destroyed not only do we lose the potential to have carbon pulled out of the atmosphere for decades to come, but we also have once-stored carbon dioxide released back into the atmosphere. It is the proverbial loss-loss situation when it comes to mitigating climate change, among other important environmental protections.

The good news is that we are becoming more aware of the importance of protecting rainforests, resulting in more areas under protection today than ever before, thanks to efforts like ones carried out by Rainforest Trust and its partners. To date, we have purchased and protected more than 17 million acres, with plans to more than double that amount to 50 million acres by 2020 through the SAVES Challenge.

“The case for rainforest preservation – already overwhelmingly strong – can no longer be cast as a niche effort of conservationists and scientists; it needs to be everyone’s concern. For those wishing to tackle our planet’s greatest environmental challenge, there is no better place to begin than saving our tropical rainforests,” Dr. Salaman concluded.

Supporter Spotlight: Orchid Conservation Alliance

Orchid Lovers Band Together to Protect Rainforest Habitats.

Founded in 2006, the Orchid Conservation Alliance (OCA) is an organization comprised of 548 individuals and 35 orchid societies whose goal is to promote the conservation of orchids and orchid habitat around the world. This mission eventually led the OCA to support Rainforest Trust’s work in protecting vital habitat in South America, because many species of orchid are found only in tropical forests. Donors since 2008, the OCA has helped fund Rainforest Trust’s projects that create protected areas in Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia. But much like Rainforest Trust, their mission doesn’t stop in South America, as the OCA is open to orchid conservation anywhere this elusive, yet stunningly beautiful family of plants reside.

“We have no paid staff and we are entirely volunteer,” said Director and OCA President Dr. Peter Tobias. “Yet with Rainforest Trust’s help, we have donated more than $250,000 to the preservation of orchid habitat, and thus to everything else that lives in those forests.”

Roughly 10,000 of the estimated 25,000-plus species of orchid worldwide reside in tropical rainforests, with 880 species of orchid appearing on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, thus making the mission of Rainforest Trust and partners like OCA so critical to their survival. To date, the OCA has helped Rainforest Trust protect more than 457 acres of orchid habitat, including the expansion of the Selva de Ventanas Natural Reserve in Colombia and the establishment of the in Northwestern Ecuador.
 

Lepanthes Culex. Photo courtesy of Salvamontes Corporation

 
“We support Rainforest Trust because they double the money we contribute to orchid conservation projects in Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia,” said Dr. Tobias. “We are a community of orchid lovers and rainforests are where most of them grow, so this partnership makes sense as it lets our members double their contributions…it makes a huge difference.”

This is why funding Rainforest Trust’s work is so vital. Protection of orchid habitat not only preserves orchids, but also their pollinators, and other threatened or endangered species as an additional bonus. In fact, most orchid species depend on a single type of pollinator, be it bees, birds or bats. If the specific pollinator species is eliminated, the particular orchid that depends upon it can easily become extinct.

“The planet is going to the dogs. We have to save what we can. Don’t put it off…every day forests are felled, plants are collected and the natural world is in extremis,” said Dr. Tobias.

In addition to donating money to support orchid conservation throughout the world, the OCA, much like Rainforest Trust, offers trips to these remote habitats, so that individuals can experience the beauty of these endangered species in the wild. They state on their website that: “An orchid blooming on a tree trunk in the sun and rain of its native habitat is one of the miracles of the natural world every orchid lover should see at least once.” To learn more about the Orchid Conservation Alliance and their work, please visit their website.
 

HEADER IMAGE: Trichosalpinx Bricenoensis. Photo courtesy of Salvamontes Corporation

 

Climate Change Series Part 1 – Rainforests Absorb, Store Large Quantities of Carbon Dioxide

It is well known that plants absorb sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to use in photosynthesis, the process in which they grow and then release oxygen as a byproduct. Without this process, human life on Earth would be extremely difficult, since photosynthesis produces and maintains most of the oxygen content in our atmosphere. In fact, according to American Forests, it only takes two mature trees to produce enough oxygen for one person’s breathing for a year. The Amazon Rainforest, the largest rainforest in the world, produces approximately 20 percent of the world’s oxygen, which is exactly why tropical forests are often referred to as the world’s lungs.

It is also this process that makes rainforests an imperative part of combating climate change. By taking in carbon dioxide and storing it both above and below ground, forests help regulate the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies determined that all tropical forests combined contain about 25 percent of the world’s carbon, with the Amazon basin storing up to 140 billion tons (127 billion metric tons). For reference, if the entire Amazon forest was lost, and that carbon was emitted into the atmosphere, it would be the equivalent of up to 140 years of all human-induced carbon emissions.

Therefore, protecting rainforests and participating in reforestation efforts can be a remarkable component of climate change mitigation. Some estimates have put these efforts at half of the solution, with reducing emissions from burning fossil fuels, agriculture and transportation as the other half. However, there are two significant differences between these efforts: time and cost.

Protecting rainforests and allowing areas already deforested to regrow can be scaled up quickly, having a near immediate impact.

“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 important as forest regrowth can be to carbon sequestration, mature trees still play a vital role in the process. American Forests estimates that one mature tree absorbs approximately 48 pounds (0.022 metric tons) of carbon dioxide each year.

Rainforest protection and reforestation are also much less costly than developing new carbon capture technologies, which can be installed on a power plant or industrial facility to remove some 90 percent of its CO2 emissions. The expense of this technology is why there are only 17 active commercial-scale projects in the world, according to the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute’s project list.

“One acre of Amazon rainforest in Peru… can be protected for just a few dollars; the same is true elsewhere in Latin America and Africa,” Salaman added. “For the cost of a meal – or even a coffee – each of us could save an area of forest about the size of four football pitches and safely store about 725 metric tons of CO2.”

Carbon sequestration is only the beginning of the conversation in regard to how tropical forests interact with and help protect our planet. Please look out for additional stories on global carbon emissions, climate change and ecosystem services.

Supporter Spotlight: Kyle Hughes

11 year old conservationist saves over 2,500 acres!

A supporter of Rainforest Trust since he was eight, Kyle Hughes has been passionate about animals and nature from a young age. Recently, Kyle took an interest in charity, which began one Christmas when his grandfather bought him a goat to donate to an African family in need. This interest in charity eventually led Kyle and his family to Rainforest Trust.

Kyle’s parents, Rob and Rebecca Hughes, wanted to find an organization that addressed issues their son was passionate about, mainly protecting habitats.

“We wanted to make sure that we found a charity that used the money well,” Rob said. “We contacted a family friend, who is an ethnoecologist who was familiar with what Rainforest Trust was doing with the Sierra Del Divisor project in Peru, and were very impressed with the ways [Rainforest Trust] integrated conservation efforts while working with local populations.” At this point, the Hughes’ realized it was a perfect fit.

Learning about Rainforest Trust’s work motivated Kyle and some friends to give a presentation about the Sierra Del Divisor project to his cub scout pack, after which they collected donations. The following year Kyle continued his philanthropic ways by asking Santa for a donation to Rainforest Trust for Christmas. When asked why he chose the rainforest as his main focus of charity, Kyle said,

“…the rainforest is one of the best producers of oxygen because it has lots of trees and plants which turn carbon dioxide into oxygen… so we should protect them.”

While he has been busy raising money for Rainforest Trust, he has also helped out locally in his home state of Texas. His cub scout den worked with a local wildlife sanctuary outside Dallas to restore Blackland Prairie habitat by cutting back invasive plant species, as well as picked up trash along local creeks.

In his free time, Kyle has enjoyed educating others about the importance of conservation. When he was seven, Kyle created a video to encourage others to be more environmentally conscious. The video, which earned him 1st place in a local school district competition, awarded Kyle a chance to compete at a state level contest, which urged youth to create works with the focus of Dream, Believe, Inspire.

“One of my favorite projects was the video international mini documentary film,” said Kyle. “I got to use a camera, I got to show my toys and I actually learned a few things.” Speaking of toys, Kyle has collected over 100 animal figurines and model train scenery pieces. So, instead of playing video games like many children his age, he prefers to set up habitats from different places around the world for his animals.
 

One of Kyle’s toy replicas of a wildlife habitat. Photo courtesy of the Hughes family

 

“We have tried to encourage his interests,” said Rob. To reinforce this, the family has gone as far as traveling through Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and Rocky Mountain National Park this past year, as well as planning future trips to Tanzania’s Serengeti, Alaska and the Yukon Territories, so that Kyle can add to his experiences – especially when it comes to raptors, his favored species. Kyle has attended multiple raptor shows and can’t wait to be old enough to volunteer at a raptor rehabilitation center, so that he can begin to fulfill his aspirations of becoming a zoologist or biologist when he grows up. Until that time, we celebrate Kyle’s continuing support of Rainforest Trust and the over 2,500 acres of vital habitat he has helped save so far!
 

HEADER IMAGE: Budding Conservationist Kyle learns about his favorite species, raptors. Photo courtesy of the Hughes family

 

Supporter Spotlight: David Gallant and Arjun Venkatesh

Two bright middle school students, David Gallant, 11, and Arjun Venkatesh, 12, are going above and beyond to help protect vital rainforest habitat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After their teacher, Mr. Pepe, assigned them an independent research project to identify a global issue and find a way to solve it, David and Arjun learned about the urgent threat of deforestation.

Over the course of their research, David and Arjun found that the rainforest has great intrinsic value. “The rainforest is important as it provides oxygen to the world, and without this important ecosystem service people would not be able to survive,” Arjun said. David added, “The rainforest also provides valuable medicines that can help save lives.” As both David and Arjun became aware of the numerous threats to the rainforest in the Congo, they knew they had to find a solution to help.

“Even though the rainforest in the Congo is smaller than the Amazon, people are still trying to save it,” said David.

Their solution to saving the rainforest? Sweet, whipped cream pie. Arjun and David came up with a suspenseful challenge to raise money for the rainforest that involves two pies, and, you guessed it, throwing it at someone else. If the thrower hits the other person in the face, then the receiver has to donate. If the thrower misses, then the thrower gets to donate. After the event, the receiver nominates three other people to do the challenge. All of the proceeds are being donated to Rainforest Trust to help save rainforests in the DRC.

“Research the rainforest, and inform people about what is happening,” Arjun advises to other students wanting to save the rainforest.

Both students, it should be noted, have successfully pied their teacher, Mr. Pepe.

Want to learn more about David and Arjun’s challenge? Check out their CrowdRise page.
 

HEADER IMAGE: David and Arjun speaking at their pie-throwing event. Photo courtesy of Mr. Pepe

 

Supporter Spotlight: Dr. Edward Aller

A veterinarian combines his passion for helping wildlife with global conservation through his support of Rainforest Trust.

Dr. Edward Aller, a dedicated veterinarian, has been enthralled with wildlife since the very beginning of his life. The son of marine scientists, he spent much of his childhood exploring forests, beaches, mangroves and reefs. He vividly remembers riding his bike down to a small store in his hometown on Long Island, NY to look at gemstones, fossils and other natural treasures.

“I remember they used to have a coin bank for rainforest conservation, and I used to put all my extra change into it,” Edward reflected.

One of the many benefits of having parents in the field of marine science was joining them on sabbatical trips to work with the Australian Institute Of Marine Sciences, where he became a certified diver at age 13 and was fortunate enough to dive in the Great Barrier Reef multiple times.

“I would consider a reef to be the aquatic equivalent of a rainforest,” Edward stated.

Edward’s passion for nature was cemented after a month-long tropical rainforest ecology course in Costa Rica during college. Living and working in a remote village, he learned how to set up a nursery and cultivate plants to reforest degraded areas. During this course he experienced both pristine rainforest and cloud forest, and was “heartbroken to see the level of deforestation and erosion around that region.”

Edward became involved with Rainforest Trust a few years ago, after searching for ways to combat the amount of biodiversity loss, deforestation, pollution and increasing scarcity of resources around the world. He decided the best course of action was to become a Conservation Hero.

“I used the act of supporting and following Rainforest Trust as a way to stay positive and give me hope for the future,” Edward said.

“I also enjoy following the specific projects and dream of having the time and resources to visit them.”

One of the main reasons Edward supports Rainforest Trust is because he believes in the importance of working with local partners and the value of involving communities in conservation initiatives.

By supporting Rainforest Trust as a Conservation Hero, Edward has helped save more than 248 acres– and intends to keep going!
 

HEADER IMAGE: Rainforest Trust supporter Edward Aller enjoys spending time in nature. Photo courtesy of Edward Aller