PROJECT SELECTION CRITERIA
To accomplish our mission and drive conservation action, we develop projects in two primary ways:
- We set conservation priorities, identifying species and places in need of protection, using the best biodiversity data available. We then seek out the sites and species in most urgent need of protection and find and vet the appropriate partner organization with whom to collaborate; and
- We receive applications from potential partners with their proposals for habitat and species protection projects in response to our SAVES Challenge. These applications are always carefully reviewed and refined with partners. Rainforest Trust is not a foundation – we engage actively with our partners, whether we find them or they find us, and become collaborators in the projects with a direct link to conservation action on the ground.
In both cases, Rainforest Trust focuses conservation action in specific ways that further our mission by selecting projects that meet the following criteria:
- Projects must have a clear focus on creating new protected areas or expanding existing protected areas using tools such as land purchase, designation as national parks, nature reserves, community reserves, and conversion of logging, mining, or other types of extractive concessions to formally protected areas.
- Sites must be currently unprotected. We use IUCN’s World Database of Protected Areas (WDPA) to determine if the area is already recognized as protected (category 1-6) before moving forward with potential projects.
- We do not upgrade protection for existing protected areas unless the project also includes the expansion of the protected area.
- Priority is given to proposals that will establish strict protected areas (IUCN categories 1-4).
- The protected area should be created approximately no more than half of the way through the project to ensure that there is time to initiate management actions.
- There must be recent (≤ 5 years), verifiable evidence of the presence of species assessed as Endangered or Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species within the proposed protected area. There are cases in which updated knowledge does not make it into the Red List in a timely fashion (e.g., discoveries of new species, taxonomic changes that recognize new species that would qualify as CR or EN but that have not been incorporated into the Red List, or groups that have not yet been evaluated). In these situations, we use the most up-to-date information available vetted by experts.
- Rainforest Trust supports projects that conserve tropical and subtropical habitats, with an emphasis on tropical forests. We define the “tropics” as the regional bounded by the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
- Endorsement from project stakeholders, including local environmental agencies, government officials and especially communities is critical to determining if there is support for the new protected area.
- Partners in Rainforest Trust projects should be NGOs registered and based in the country of the proposed protected area.
- We do not provide funding to government agencies or quasi-governmental organizations.
- Rainforest Trust vets its partners to protect the investment made by Rainforest Trust and its donors. Among the characteristics we seek in a partner as evidence of their ability to manage a complex project and our funding support include (not an exhaustive list):
- Evidence of an independent and autonomous oversight and management committee (e.g., a non-executive board) if land purchase or leasing is the proposed conservation strategy.
- Ability to receive wire transfers in-country directly from Rainforest Trust.
- Regular third party financial audits.
- Evidence that there are no connections to terrorism.
- Rainforest Trust is rarely the sole supporter. To the greatest extent possible, Rainforest Trust projects should maximize the value of our donors’ support by including matching support. This is the essence of the SAVES Challenge.
- Rainforest Trust is very focused in its approach and careful with our donors’ funding support. To that end, Rainforest Trust does not support the following project budget items:
- Set percentage overhead costs applied to project budgets
- Vehicle purchases other than motorcycles
- International travel
- Salaries for foreigners at developed country salary level