10,000-mile Bike Ride Benefits Atlantic Forest

Samuel Hagler: riding with purpose
Mr. Hans Swegen, fifth from right
Hope for Paraguay's Atlantic Forest

The acquisition of a 678-acre property in the Paraguayan Atlantic rainforest has been completed by Rainforest Trust partner Association Guyra Paraguay thanks to the support of Ride For The Trees by Samuel Hagler, Peery Foundation, Mr. Hans Swegen, and others. The new protected area, called the Swegen Forest, saves part of the San Rafael National Park that was privately owned by a colonist.

On January 1, 2009, Samuel Hagler set out on an epic journey in an effort to raise awareness about the plight of forests worldwide and to do his part to help protect one of the last remaining fragments of Atlantic Forest. For the next 16 months, Hagler endured countless trials including: bee attacks, extreme cold and heat, robberies, and illness.

"Ride for the Trees" was a 10,000 mile Environmental Bicycle Tour through 14 countries–starting at the San Rafael Reserve in Paraguay and finishing in Arizona in the United States. The more than year long adventure garnered $23,000 in donations from the Peery Foundation and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Hagler’s endurance and commitment have provided important support to the heavily depleted Atlantic Rainforest of Paraguay.

Since 2001, Guyra Paraguay has been buying private lands within San Rafael National Park to secure the future of this important site. By 2010 our partner had purchased 11 properties totaling an area of 16,697 acres. Mr. Swegen recently visited the area, and together with the Cacique Chaparro from Arroyo Moroti, walked in its primary forest. Swegen’s generosity, coupled with funds raised by Hagler during his ride, have led to these critical reserve additions.

The Swegen Forest will now be managed as a "socio-environmental condominium" in a joint agreement between Guyra Paraguay and the Arroyo Moroti indigenous community. The objective of this agreement is to commit both Guyra Paraguay and the indigenous community to protect the 678 acres for biodiversity conservation and protect the ancestral territories of the Mbya People, whereby only traditional uses and practices are allowed.

Rainforest Trust congratulates all involved for their incredible conservation efforts.