The majority of rainforest at risk of destruction in Latin America lies in private hands. For example, four of the Latin American hotspots--including the Chocó-Darien of western Ecuador and Colombia and the Atlantic Forest of Brazil--are estimated to be more than 80% private lands. Sadly, there are few restrictions on deforestation on private lands.
Consider, for example, the Atlantic rainforests of Brazil--a megadiverse region with extraordinary concentrations of endemic mammals, amphibians, birds, and other groups exceptionally important for global biodiversity conservation. However, less than 8% of the original forest remains today and less than 3% of that is currently protected (including WLT-US-supported Serra Bonita). More than 95% percent of the remaining unprotected habitat of the Atlantic Forest lies in private hands.
This example clearly shows that the only way to protect what is left of this region is through securing private lands to both establish new protected areas and expand existing ones, such as around national parks.
How We Buy and Protect Rainforest
WLT-US believes that the key to being successful at securing private lands is to work through locally-based conservation organizations. WLT-US' goal is to secure the funds necessary to allow these local organizations to fulfill their mission--to purchase and manage critical lands for biodiversity conservation. Also, WLT-US helps build the capacity of local groups by providing recommendations and bolstering their staff and infrastructure.
We carefully select our partners to ensure they are legally constituted non-profits, with good governance, an experienced staff familiar with the local situation, and have the highest legal and ethical insight. WLT-US monitors each project through regular reporting from local partners so that we can assure donors that their funds are achieving the greatest conservation results.
Click here to view past WLT-US accomplishments.