Rainforest Trust 2020: A Year in Review
2020 was a year of disruption and change for every person and organization, Rainforest Trust included. The need to protect our planet and nature has never been more urgent. Thanks to the commitment of our supporters and the extraordinary efforts of our partners, our vital conservation work around the world continued and over 1.5 million acres of precious habitat were protected.
Endangering the lives of millions, COVID-19 was a warning sign from our planet. Zoonotic in origin, the pandemic is a direct result of our increasing contact with wildlife through deforestation and the destruction of nature––harmful human activity that also pushes us further into the climate crisis. The urgent need for conservation has never been greater and Rainforest Trust has doubled down on our commitments. This year alone we:
Safeguarded over 1.5 million acres of habitat across the globe, protecting the homes of 614 threatened species.
Kept over 146 million metric tonnes of carbon stored in forests where it belongs, helping to prevent climate change.
Added 202,028 acres to the Airo Pai Community Reserve––a critical step in our multi-year effort with local partner, CEDIA. This follows another 332,935 acres that was protected by CEDIA earlier this year. These projects help indigenous communities gain legal title to their cultural land and stop deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon.
Expanded the YUS Conservation Area in Papua New Guinea by 233,186 acres for the Endangered Huon Tree Kangaroo–– a project completely dependent on the indigenous communities, who will work together to safeguard resident species in perpetuity.
Established two protected areas in the Himalayas of Nepal––the 176,630-acre Lungbasamba Landscape Biocultural Heritage and Ecotourism Special Conservation Zone and the 84,927-acre Topkegola Biocultural Heritage and Ecotourism Special Conservation Zone.
Safeguard over 106,000 acres of both aquatic and terrestrial habitat through the Aquatic Reserve of Pesut Mahakam Habitat in Indonesia, which protects a wide range of species, including the Critically Endangered Bornean Orangutan and nearly the entire population of the Critically Endangered Mahakam subpopulation of the Irrawaddy Dolphin.
Created 386,176-acre Imwabum National Park in Myanmar, providing protection for a diverse range of forest habitats for threatened species like the Critically Endangered Sunda Pangolin, Critically Endangered Chinese Pangolin, Endangered Red Panda and Clouded Leopard.
Protected the 28,766-acre Kokoi Euja Nature Reserve in the Choco forest of Colombia, which safeguards habitat for the endemic and Endangered Golden Poison Frog. It also highly benefits local indigenous communities, who can now maintain their land for future generations.
Protected 640,000 acres of coastline and rocky reefs in Côte d’Ivoire, creating the first marine protected area in the country and safeguarding key habitat for Critically Endangered Hawksbill Turtles, Endangered Green Turtles, Critically Endangered Atlantic Humpback Dolphins, as well as Endangered Whale Sharks, Endangered Scalloped Hammerheads and many others.This protection allows our partner, Conservation des Espèces Marines, to help local communities maintain sustainable fisheries and increase tourism––highly benefitting the local economy.Baby Leatherback turtles make their way into the Dodo River on the Ivory Coast
Expanded the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya by 4,625 acres to bolster protection for 14% of the country’s Black Rhinoceros population and the world’s single largest population of Grevy’s Zebra, as well as African Elephants, African Wild Dogs, Reticulated Giraffes, Lions and Cheetahs.
From its start, 2020 has been filled with unprecedented challenges. Despite these, Rainforest Trust remained focused on our mission to safeguard habitat, save species, engage communities in conservation and create a brighter future for our shared planet.
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.