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Saving Real Acres in Real Places

RAINFOREST BULLETIN 1988 - 2013 celebrating


years of

conservation Rainforest Trust was founded December 8th, 1988, with a mission to protect threatened tropical forests and save endangered wildlife through community engagement and local partnerships. Developing a conservation model based on low-overhead and establishing strong partnerships with some of the most respected conservation organizations in Latin America allowed Rainforest Trust to succeed in making tropical conservation, especially land purchases, an economical and effective means of biodiversity protection. Since its first project in the Sierra de las Minas, Guatemala, Rainforest Trust has recognized that a key component of effective conservation is speed. Lost conservation opportunities are lost forever. Flexible planning and rapid responses has allowed Rainforest Trust to meet short deadlines and take advantage of conservation opportunities unavailable to slower-moving organizations. IN THIS ISSUE winter 2013 Rainforest Trust Celebrates 25 Years ............ 1 A Note from the CEO ................................. 1 Rainforest Trust Project Appeals ................... 2 Jaguar Reserve Proposed in Brazil ................. 2 Photo Highlight ........................................... 2 Species Spotlight......................................... 3 Creation of Rainforest Trust ........................ 3 Buenaventura Reserve Expands..................... 3 In the Field: Alonso Quevedo ...................... 3 Success in Borneo ....................................... 4 1.800.456.4930 |

Swift action, however, has been balanced with a scientific approach to conservation based upon biological research and high-quality mapping techniques. These tools allow Rainforest Trust to zero-in on threats and take calculated actions to protect the most critical ecosystems remaining. This systematic style of conservation has even won the respect and support of legendary scientist and conservationist E.O. Wilson.

Acknowledging that conservation ultimately depends on people and that teamwork is the basis of all successful projects, Rainforest Trust adopted a community-based model of conservation that relies on the efforts of local communities and organizations.

Among its supporters, Rainforest Trust built confidence by providing straightforward information about its projects – including detailed goals, plans, and maps – that clearly demonstrated where donations went.

Dozens of indigenous communities have been empowered as land stewards over the last 25 years in a conservation approach that supports sustainable land protection and improved livelihoods. Rainforest Trust has invested in the future of these communities by providing support for environmental education and eco-tourism projects.

Support from key donors and board members to cover operating costs allowed Rainforest Trust to offer donors maximum on-theground impact for each dollar given. Such effectiveness resulted in high ratings and consistent awards from Charity Navigator.

With over a million rainforest acres protected in the last three years, Rainforest Trust’s impact continues to grow. In 2013, Rainforest Trust unveiled its largest project ever – a plan to protect 5.9 million Amazonian acres - and expanded its work to Africa and Asia. ■

A NOTE FROM THE CEO December marks an important milestone for Rainforest Trust as we celebrate 25 years. Our anniversary is a great reminder that we are doing something right, that our mission is working. Since its founding, Rainforest Trust has emerged as a powerful force in international conservation. A conviction that tropical land protection is one of the most important - most urgent conservation needs on our planet has provided continual motivation.

Despite economic downturns, a shoestring budget, and a small staff, we’ve protected over 7 million rainforest acres. This has been possible because we’ve kept our focus on conservation, resisted distractions, and maintained an unbroken commitment to being the most cost-effective organization in the field. Thanks to your support, the results of our first 25 years will have wide and long-lasting effects on both our planet’s biodiversity and its climate. Sincerely,

Dr. Paul Salaman - CEO, Rainforest Trust

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Rainforest Trust Project Appeals around the World Saving the Heart of the Amazon: Protecting the Serranía de Perijá: Habitat for Elephants and Apes: Peru Colombia Borneo The Sierra del Divisor Mountain Range stretches more than 600 miles along the Peru-Brazil border in the heart of the Amazon Basin. The region, which contains a biological community rich in endemic and threatened species, is one of the highest conservation priorities in the Amazon, and its location in the center of a ten-million-acre wildlife corridor makes its preservation critical. The Sierra del Divisor faces imminent threats from oil development, road construction, and illegal logging. To permanently protect this area, Rainforest Trust is working with its Peruvian partner, CEDIA, to establish two protected areas and a buffer zone that will span 5.9 million acres. Donations to this project will be matched until December 31, 2013.

The 12,000-foot Serranía de Perijá Range is impressive not only for its rugged topography, but also for its biological richness. This region, one of the least-known in the Northern Andes, holds much for scientific discovery. Four new bird species have already been found, and many new species still await formal description.

As vast oil palm plantations in Borneo expand, the rainforest habitat upon which the island’s pygmy elephants and orangutans depend is being destroyed at an alarming rate. As a result, populations of these species have plummeted in recent years. Only 1,500 pygmy elephants now remain in Borneo.

Nearly 98% of the forest in Colombia’s Serranía de Perijá has been destroyed due to logging and agricultural activities. To conserve this unique tropical ecosystem, Rainforest Trust needs your help to establish a protected area in Colombia’s Serranía de Perijá. The proposed 1,850-acre reserve contains pristine cloud forests and provides habitat for the area’s many endemic species.

To ensure the survival of these species, we have teamed up with HUTAN, our Malaysian partner, to buy more than a dozen properties along the Kinabatangan River, creating a wildlife corridor between the Keruak Forest Reserve and the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. The corridor is crucial for orangutans and pygmy elephants as it will allow them to move safely between these protected areas.

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Jaguar Panthera onca HABITAT: Rainforest, wetlands, scrub woodlands, and dry deciduous forest. DIET: Jaguars prefer ungulates, but also eat crocodiles, snakes, monkeys, sloths, turltes, eggs, frogs, and fish. THREATS: Habitat loss, hunting, population fragmentation. CURRENT PROTECTION: Although the jaguar is protected on a national level across most of its range – from the southwestern U.S. to Argentina – habitat loss continues to reduce populations. INTERESTING FACT: The jaguar is the third-largest feline species in the world, after the lion and tiger. Large males can weigh up to 300 pounds.

Founder Recalls Creation of Rainforest Trust Since day one, we’ve recognized and responded to unique and critical land conservation opportunities. It all started with a telephone call from Guatemala in December 1988. As Founder and former Executive Director Byron Swift recalls:

“The Director of Guatemala’s Defensores de la Naturaleza, Magali Rey Rosa, called to tell me that her conservation organization had the chance to buy 11,000 acres of land in the heart of the Sierra de las Minas for only $4 an acre. The grandfather of a family she knew had died. And the family discovered that he’d bought an undeveloped tract of cloud forest on speculation. They now owed $45,000 in back taxes. The family would sell to Defensores if they could come up with this money within two weeks.

“I began calling friends, hoping to find three people who would each donate $15,000. Sierra de las Minas, our very first project, is now a Biosphere Reserve protecting over 583,000 acres of one of the most biodiverse mountain ranges in Central America.

At 93,000 square miles - an area slightly smaller than Wyoming - Brazil’s Pantanal is the largest tropical wetland on the planet. This unique and highly productive ecosystem supports some of the largest wildlife populations in South America, including jaguars. The Pantanal contains the world’s highest jaguar densities and is home to some of the largest jaguars recorded. Covering much of the Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sol states in western Brazil, the Pantanal is also a major cattle-producing region. Over 95% of the area is privately owned and employed for cattle grazing and small-scale agriculture. As such, landowners view jaguars as threats shooting them on sight. To provide a sanctuary for the region’s jaguars, Rainforest Trust has teamed up with local partner Panthera Brazil to purchase a 24,640acre ranch located in the heart of the Pantanal. Once purchased, the ranch will be designated as a Private Natural Heritage Reserve (RPPN) thus receiving permanent protection. Conservation efforts by the current ranch owner have proved successful as numbers of rare species have rebounded. Threatened species


recorded on the reserve include the Hyacinth Macaw, marsh deer, giant anteater, giant otter, bush dog, maned wolf, and Brazilian tapir.

Plans are also under way to develop ecotourism opportunities for local ranchers and farmers that will supplement incomes and reduce hunting pressures by monetizing jaguars’ presence. This income will offer locals an opportunity to preserve their environment and cultural traditions. It will also reduce pressure on ranchers to adopt industrial farming techniques that would transform the Pantanal. ■

“Another remarkable bit of serendipity happened in Argentina. I’d been visiting the Pampa de Achala, home to one of the country’s largest condor populations as well as many endemic species. My Argentinian host – from FUNAM, the Foundation for Defense of the Environment – had a radio show in Cordoba that Sunday at 8 AM. He asked if I wanted to say a few words. I spoke glowingly about the site I’d just seen, saying it deserved to be a national park. “Within minutes, we received a call from the Mayor of Cordoba, asking us to come right over to his office. By the end of the meeting, he was banging his fist on the table, declaring, ‘Let’s make this a national park!’ Which we did. The 91,000 acre Quebrada del Condorito National Park was created in 1996.” ■

Protection of the ranch is part of a larger effort to create an intact jaguar corridor that will eventually be the world’s largest when complete. Consisting of state parks and private reserves, this protected complex will cover nearly 869 square miles.

Buenaventura Reserve Grows by 600 Acres Cope’s vine snake (Oxybelis brevirostris), which ranges from Honduras to Ecuador, spends much of its life in trees hunting amphibians, birds, and lizards. Mildly venomous, vine snakes are known to lure prey by imitating movements of worms and insects with flicks of their brightcolored tongues. Alejandro Grajales, an employee of Rainforest Trust’s Colombian partner ProAves, spotted this Cope’s vine snake while visiting the organization’s Golden Poison Frog Reserve in Colombia’s Chocó rainforest. ■ Visit to learn about the Golden Poison Frog Reserve.

Q & A with Alonso Quevedo

PRESENT STATUS: Near threatened; total population numbers are unknown.

“I was actually Magali’s last resort because none of the established conservation organizations bought land outside the U.S. But I didn’t have an organization, though she knew I’d been thinking about setting one up that could buy critical rainforest. I didn’t think too much about our conversation until Magali called back the next day. Based on my ‘promise’ to form this new group, she’d borrowed $45,000 and submitted an offer to buy the land.

Jaguar Reserve Proposed in Brazil’s Pantanal


Thanks to help from Rainforest Trust, Ecuadorian partner Jocotoco has purchased 600 acres to expand its Buenaventura Reserve. The expansion, which will increase the reserve to a total of 4,600 acres, contains 400 acres of pristine cloud forest and will provide habitat for a multitude of threatened wildlife. Among the 15 endangered bird species found in the reserve are the El Oro Parakeet and the El Oro Tapaculo. The few dozen surviving El Oro Tapaculos depend on the reserve for their survival. Likewise, nearly two-thirds of the world’s last 800 El Oro Parakeets take refuge in Buenaventura. The reserve protects one of the largest tracts of cloud forest remaining in southwestern Ecuador, and has gained renown as the premier birding site in the region. Over 330 bird species – including 31 hummingbirds - have been recorded at Buenaventura; 34 species are endemic to the area. Since its creation in 1999, the reserve has steadily grown in size. Rainforest Trust has supported the purchase of 4,025 acres. ■

Alonso Quevedo, is Executive Director of Rainforest Trust’s Colombian partner ProAves. Before becoming Executive Director, Quevedo spent 13 years working with ProAves as General Director and Board President. Together, Rainforest Trust and ProAves have protected nearly 100,000 acres of Colombia’s most threatened ecosystems.

Q: How did you become interested in conservation? I’ve always had a deep interest and curiosity in wildlife. Observing animals in the wild as a child inspired lots of questions about nature and ultimately led to my career. I traveled widely with my parents and visited many of Colombia’s natural areas as a kid. This opened my eyes to the richness of Colombia’s biodiversity. Q: How did you first become aware of Colombia’s environmental problems? It was firsthand experience. When able to travel on my own, I went back to a lot of the places I visited with my parents and found they were gone. I remembered the exact places I first found certain species of frogs and birds, and they no longer existed. Mining, logging, and palm oil plantations had destroyed them. Q: What keeps you motivated seeing that kind of destruction? Like my parents, I take my children traveling with me during their vacations. It’s important for me that they can make the same connections with Colombia’s natural places that I did, and that those places exist for them in the future. On the other hand, there are sites that I visited 20 years ago that are now protected by ProAves. Going to those places and seeing them thriving - that is truly an amazing feeling. Q: How important is the help of foreign institutions to conservation in Colombia? It’s enormous. As a Colombian, I’m grateful to foreign organizations, especially Rainforest Trust, which have been supporting the conservation of our biodiversity and ecosystems. Our success depends on team work, so these partnerships have been invaluable. ■

25 Horner Street Warrenton, VA 20186


rainforest Bulletin wINTER 2013

Conservation Success in Borneo

A previous Rainforest Trust campaign to protect habitat for orangutans and pygmy elephants in the Bornean state of Sabah has successfully resulted in the purchase of 222 acres. These acres have been added to the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary that protects lowland rainforest critical for the survival of many endemic species. The purchase was particularly important as the loss of these acres would have permanently ended hopes of creating a corridor between isolated tracts of the sanctuary. Their incorporation allows for the improved movement of resident pygmy elephant and orangutan populations, a necessity for their long-term survival. The need for habitat protection in Borneo has increased in recent years as expanding oil palm plantations have leveled much of the island’s rainforest. The Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, which is adjacent to several oil palm plantations, was created in 2005 and is composed of 10 conservation blocks. “With the price of oil palm so high, time is not on our side in Borneo. If we had stalled on this purchase, we would have lost the opportunity to create this corridor,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust. “The same situation exists with our current Borneo project. If we miss the chance to protect these acres now we will have lost an incredible opportunity to protect pygmy elephants and orangutans.”

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