Why Are Protected Areas So Important For Our Planet?
Rainforest Trust’s mission for over 30 years has been to prevent the destruction of rainforests and other tropical habitat through the creation of protected areas. We've already helped to create 178 protected areas totalling over 24 million acres, and have another 100 or so in the works. So why are protected areas so important? Here are our top five reasons.
1. Safeguard Biodiversity
Protected areas guard critical habitat for species. Recent studies show that on average the number of species in a protected area is 10.6% higher than outside, and the populations of those species are 14.5% greater when they live on protected land.
2. Protect Our Climate
Rainforests store billions of tonnes of carbon, which is released into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas CO2 when forests are set on fire. Protected areas preserve these vital carbon sinks, helping to reduce the impacts of climate change.
3. Provide Local Economic Success
When protected areas are created in collaboration with rural communities, local economies stand to benefit in a number of ways. Communities often find employment in protected areas, as forest guardians, in ecotourism or through sustainable farming.
4. Prevent the Spread of Disease
Clearing rainforest habitat displaces biodiversity and renders ecosystems unbalanced. 60% of infectious diseases – including SARS, Lyme, Ebola and Covid-19 – are zoonotic in origin. Protected areas help to keep ecosystems intact, thus playing a vital role in disease prevention.
5. Ensure Food and Water Security
Management plans within our protected areas often promote best practices for sustainable agriculture that result in greater supplies for local communities to consume or sell. These areas also protect watersheds that ensure a clean water supply.
Protected areas matter. We all benefit when nature is protected, and the need for protected areas has never been more urgent. By supporting our work, you can benefit our planet for species, communities and future generations.
How We Protect Rainforest
Our unique, cost-effective conservation model for protecting endangered species has been implemented successfully for over 30 years. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the expertise of our partners and the participation of local communities across the tropics, our reserves are exemplary models of international conservation.
1. We establish strategic partnerships with the world’s most experienced and committed conservationists. Our partners’ intimate knowledge of their regions’ ecosystems and local communities is key to achieving long-term land and species protection.
2. Together, we identify critical sites that provide a permanent refuge for endangered species. These biodiverse areas face immediate and direct threats, typically from loggers, miners or ranchers.
3. Protection requires swift action, and we work with our partners to develop scientifically based conservation plans that are not only timely, but also resilient and sustainable. With detailed plans in place, we raise the funds necessary to implement them.
4. Our partners work closely with their national governments and local communities to formally establish reserves protecting the land.
The creation of a new protected area is only the beginning. We are committed to providing lasting, on-the-ground protection, which requires the ongoing support and participation of local communities. These communities are engaged through the creation of sustainable economic opportunities for local men and women, including training as fellows, guardians, wildlife monitors and ecotourism guides.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the expertise of our partners and the participation of local communities across the tropics, our reserves are exemplary models of international conservation.