Big Gift History 1989-2016

Since 1989, children, families, teachers, and friends of Earth’s Birthday Project have helped purchase and protect hundreds of thousands of acres at twenty important conservation sites!

2016 La Libertad, Cajamarca & Amazonas Region Preserves, Peru – over 775,000 acres
2015 Amazonas & Arequipa Region Preserves, Peru – over 200,000 acres
2014 Amazonas & Cajamarca Region Preserves, Peru – over 200,000 acres
2013 Marañon Preserve, Peru – 100,000 acres
2012 Balsas Regional Conservation Area, Peru – 100,000 acres
2012 Colorado River, USA – 1,700,000 gallons of water
2011 Molino Pampa Community Reserve, Peru – 18,750 acres
2011 Verde River, Arizona, USA – 1,265,080 gallons of water
2010 El Pangan Rainforest, Columbia – 1,775 acres
2009 Podocarpus-El Condor Biosphere Reserve, Ecuador; El Paujil Nature Reserve, Colombia – 2,228 acres
2008 Big Gift African Elephants, Kenya and Tanzania – 9,555 acres
2007 Leatherback Nesting Beach, Playa Grande, Costa Rica – 3,394 acres equivalent
2006 Orangutan Habitat, East Kalimantan, Borneo – 5,045 acres
2005 Brazilian Amazon Rainforest – 173,607 acres
2004 San Rafael Conservation Area, Paraguay – 6,260 acres
2003 Brazilian Cerrado – 6,250 acres
2002 Mata Atlantica, Brazil – 7,691 acres
2001 Madre de los Aguas, Dominican Republic – 45,000 acres
2000 Maya Mountain Marine Corridor, Belize – 13,650 acres
1999 Sierra de Lacandon National Park, Guatemala – 9,614 acres
1998 New River Land, Belize – 12,171 acres
1997 Brazilian Pantanal – 12,743 acres
1996 Mbaracayu Forest Reserve, Paraguay – 37,000 acres
1995 Talamanca Caribbean Biological Corridor, Costa Rica – 30,000 acres
1994 Punta Patino Reserve, Panama – 30,000 acres
1993 Guaraquecaba Environmental Protection Area, Brazil – 6,857 acres
1992 Rio Bravo Conservation Area, Belize – 9,857 acres
1991 Sierra de las Minas Cloud Forest Reserve, Guatemala – 8,571 acres
Through your generosity, these forests and other precious habitats may now be safeguarded forever!

2016 – La Libertad, Cajamarca & Amazonas Region Preserves, Peru
Over 775,000 acres

This year nine preserves were developed in three regions of Peru. In La Libertad, protected areas in Cerro Campana, Ascope, Gran Chimu, Bolívar & Sensicape include many native species found nowhere else. In Cajamarca, two new areas are now protected. Naranjos is a preserve protected by Awajun people living in the north of Cajamarca and Andes Tepuy is a unique, low elevation Amazon forest with very high species diversity. Also in Cajamarca is the new Chinchipe-Maranon protected area, which runs along the Maranon and Chinchipe Rivers. In Amazonas, two new areas are protected, Sonche and Vituya-Chiliquin. These high elevation, tropical forests feature many waterfalls and are the source of water for the region.

2015 – Amazonas & Arequipa Region Preserves, Peru
Over 200,000 acres

Donations to protect rivers and forests in Peru have gone further than ever before, with both ambitious, new protected areas, as well as the development of sustainable enterprise within them. Three new protected areas in Amazonas and one in Arequipa were established in the first part of 2015, and there are several more protected areas waiting for government approval.  As well, 18 traveling artisans have trained women living in several protected areas to make hand-crafts. The meetings and trainings have been very popular, with often up to 100 women attending their three day workshops. Earth’s Birthday Project hired the collective, Mujeres Chachas, to knit 6,000 finger puppets. The puppets will be offered as another way for children to contribute to conservation by making a $2 donation per puppet in 2016.
La Jalca Community Conservation Area, Amazonas - 50,000 acres
Huancas Municipal Protected Area, Amazonas - 9000 acres
Tijae Nain Awajun Concession, Amazonas - 93,000 acres
Chuquibamba Conservation Preserve, Arequipa - 50,000 acres

2014 – Amazonas & Cajamarca Region Preserves, Peru
Over 200,000 acres

In 2014 Nature and Culture International’s work with the Awajun people in the Amazonas Region of Peru made progress, resulting in the Paumu Nain Indigenous Conservation Concession of more than 100,000 acres being established. In the neighboring Cajamarca Region, the Huarangos-Supayacu Conservation Area was established with over 100,000 acres.

2013 – Marañon Preserve, Peru
100,000 acres or 500,000,000 square yards

In 2013, we continued to protect fragile forests along the Marañon River in Peru. High in the Andes Mountains, the Marañon River begins its journey across South America until it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Its waters flow very quickly and have lots of rapids. After many miles it meets up with several other rivers in the region to form the mighty Amazon River. There are plans to build 9 hydroelectric dams on the river, so it is very important to protect land needed by endangered animals and plants now. It’s also important to provide villages in the region with economic opportunities that help preserve the forests. 

2012 – Balsas Regional Conservation Area, Peru
100,000 acres or 500,000,000 square yards

In 2012, we worked together to protect fragile forests along the Marañon River in Peru by creating the Balsas Regional Conservation Area. The Marañon River begins high in the Andes Mountains, near Peru’s capital city, Lima. Its waters flow very quickly and have lots of rapids. After many miles it meets up with several other rivers in the region to form the mighty Amazon River. There are plans to build 9 hydroelectric dams on the river, so it is very important to protect land needed by endangered animals and plants now. It’s also important to provide villages in the region with economic opportunities that help preserve the forests. 

2011 - Colorado River, USA
1,700,000 gallons of water

30 million people from the USA and Mexico depend on the water of the mighty Colorado River for drinking, washing, cooking, irrigating farmland and for many other uses. Wildlife and plants living along the river and its tributaries need clean, healthy water too. To make sure that we all have the water we need, it is important for us to use water wisely. We can fix leaky faucets, buy water-saving appliances, take shorter showers and much more. Then there will be water to share with the animals, trees, birds and flowers that live along the Colorado River.

Big Gift conservation partners for the 2012 Big Gift-Rainforests are Nature & Culture International. The 2012 Big Gift-Rivers conservation partner is The Nature Conservancy.

2011 – Molino Pampa Community Reserve, Peru
18,750 acres or 90,750,000 square yards

Our 2011 rainforest site was to Molino Pampa Community Reserve in the mountainous Amazonas region of Peru. Molino Pampa is an Andean Mountain Tropical Forest. Known as “yungas,” these forests are critical for water supplies throughout a large region. It is a primary habitat for threatened species like the very rare Yellow-tailed Wooly Monkey, the Mountain Tapir and the Spectacled Bear. Community members are being trained as conservation managers of these precious forests, and local schools are teaching environmental education and sustainable agriculture for the long-term protection of rainforests.

2011 - Verde River, Arizona, USA
1,265,080 gallons of water

The 2011 river site was the Verde River in Arizona, USA. In a southwestern state where perennial flowing water is a rare oasis of green that stands in stark contrast to the arid hills and mesas through which it meanders. Indeed, ‘verde’ is Spanish for ‘green.’ By keeping water in the river, rather than diverting it for irrigation, the entire river ecosystem benefits, from the trees that anchor the banks, to wildlife that depend on water to survive. People enjoy canoeing and other recreation on the river. The Verde was a site for river otter reintroduction beginning in 1981.

Big Gift conservation partners for the 2011 Big Gift-Rainforests are Nature & Culture International and the World Land Trust-US. The 2011 Big Gift-Rivers conservation partner is The Nature Conservancy.

2010 – El Pangan Rainforest, Columbia
1,775 acres

Our Big Gift 2010 was to El Pangan Rainforest in the Colombian Chocó. El Pangan is said to be the world’s wettest rainforest—subtropical, super-wet, pristine—in the foothills of the Andes. It contains the single greatest concentration of native birds, frogs, butterflies and orchids on Earth. This rainforest is also a primary habitat for threatened species, including many newly discovered animals and plants. El Pangan is an essential link that will help connect isolated Awá indigenous reserves. This site is endangered by road building, ranching and non-indigenous settlement encroaching on native lands.

Big Gift conservation partners for the 2010 Big Gift site are Nature & Culture International and the World Land Trust-US.

2009 – Podocarpus-El Condor Biosphere Reserve, Ecuador
El Paujil Nature Reserve, Colombia
2,228 acres

In 2009, Big Gift to the Earth saved threatened rainforests by purchasing 2,228 acres in Ecuador and Colombia and helping to ensure their long-term conservation through inclusion in the Podocarpus-El Condor Biosphere and the El Paujil Nature Reserve. These acres combined offset 111.4 million pounds of carbon pollution in the United States to combat global warming. That adds up to a year’s worth of carbon emissions form 3965 school busses!

Just as important, our Big Gift 2009 forests will be protected forever to provide habitat essential for the survival of some of the world’s most amazing and critically endangered animals, including the variegated spider monkey, spectacled bear, jaguar, mountain tapir, blue-billed curassow, and quetzal.

Protecting rainforest at the reserves includes supporting local communities and strengthening their commitments to conservation and the protection of wildlife. Long-term preservation will include intensive, ongoing environmental education and income-generation initiatives, with special consideration for the needs of women and the development of ecotourism employment opportunities.

Big Gift conservation partners for the 2009 Big Gift sites are the American Bird Conservancy, Nature & Culture International and the World Land Trust-US.

2008 – Big Gift African Elephants
Saving Elephant Habitat in Kenya and Tanzania
9,555 acres

In 1900, more than 10 million elephants inhabited African forests and savannahs. By 1979, so many had been killed that the number had dropped to less than 2 million. Although elephants have been protected by ivory bans and laws regulating hunting since 1990, there are now only about 650,000 left in all of Africa. Many are safeguarded in parks and wildlife preserves, but African elephants are increasingly threatened by extinction.

In their arid homelands, elephants must migrate over vast distances to find food and water. Often, as they travel form one feeding ground to another, they cross park boundaries and the borders between countries. Their migrations take them across wildernesses where they are at risk from poachers and near settlements where farmers sometimes kill or harass them to protect crops and water. In Africa, human populations are growing, and human-ele0phant competition is increasing.

In 2007, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and Earth’s Birthday Project created Big Gift African Elephants to protect elephants in Kenya and Tanzania. Big Gift donations in 2008 have advanced three key conservation objectives, to (1) purchase and protect an important elephant migration corridor in Keyna. (2) support the education and healthcare needs of nomadic, pastoralist communities in the West Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania in exchange for elephant and grasslands stewardship, (3) restore and conserve Tanzania’s West Kilimanjaro Ranch, an area of vital habitat and a movement corridor for elephants and other wildlife.

Earth’s Birthday Project will continue to accept donations to Big Gift African Elephants through 2009. Earth’s Middle-school teachers and students may generate donations without raising funds by participating in Earth Day Science Symposium: African Elephants, a challenging math-science classroom activity.

Big Gift African Elephants-a partnership between Earth’s Birthday Project and the African Wildlife Foundation

2007 - Sea Turtle Nesting Beach, Playa Grande, Costa Rica
The Last Important Leatherback Nesting Beach in the Eastern Pacific
3,394 acres

Playa Grande is the last important leatherback nesting beach in the eastern Pacific. In 2007, forested land immediately behind Playa Grande was in private hands, scheduled for commercial and residential development within a few years. Hotels, restaurants, and private homes would have driven leatherbacks away from Playa Grande, as they have driven them from other Latin American beaches.

Thanks to the efforts of Big Gift participants, all of Playa Grande has been purchased for incorporation into Parque Marino Las Baulas. Under the protection of the Costa Rican government and international conservation partners, mating turtles are protected in adjacent territorial waters, poaching has been eradicated, and ecotourism has helped raise local incomes.

Protection of sea turtles and nests is the responsibility of national part guards. Research and turtle conservation are conducted by scientists from Drexel, Duke and Indiana-Purdue universities through local and international conservation organizations, including The Leatherback Trust and Conservation International. The national park provides a museum with excellent turtle exhibits and an audio tour in Spanish, English, and other languages.

Ecotourists are allowed on the park’s beaches where turtle nests are protected twenty-four hours a day. They may observe nesting turtles at night in the company of tour guides. Local groups, including Women Friends of Las Baulas National Marine Park, are helping residents develop small businesses supported by the increasing numbers of international tourists.

Earth’s Birthday Project will continue to accept donations to support Big Gift Playa Grande through 2009. Middle-school teachers and students may generate donations without raising funds by participating in Earth Day Science Symposium: Sea Turtles, a challenging math-science classroom activity.

Big Gift Playa Grande—a partnership between Earth’s Birthday Project and The Leatherback Trust

2006 – Orangutan Habitat in East Kalimantan, Borneo
Exquisite Rainforest for Critically Endangered Species
5,045 acres

In 2002, The Nature Conservancy and a team of local villagers discovered a large population of orangutans in the Kelay River basin, East Kalimantan, Borneo. Borneo and Sumatra are the only two places on Earth where natural habitat for these critically endangered primates exists. The newly discovered Kelay group could be as much as 10 percent of the total population of orangutans left in the wild. The Kelay orangutans live in one of the most beautiful wildernesses in the world. The dense forests of East Kalimantan conceal an otherworldly realm. Strange and colorful creatures like the honey-chested sun bear and clouded leopard roam among mist-shrouded trees and limestone spires draped with ferns, orchids and vines. Orangutans, gibbons, langurs, proboscis monkeys, leaf monkeys, macaques, and myriad birds and butterflies populate the trees. Bearded pigs and large hornbill pheasants scavenge the forest floor. Many of Borneo’s animals and plants are unique in the world. Because large sections of the isolated rainforests of East Kalimantan have never been explored, it is likely that species and populations unknown to science remain to be discovered. These forests are also among the few habitats large and diverse enough to support healthy populations of orangutans.

Borneo’s forests are disappearing at record pace. Fires set to clear land for agriculture burn out of control. Large palm and timber plantations encroach on pristine landscapes. Local economic crises fuel a cycle of illegal logging and forest degradation. Although East Kalimantan is wild and remote, it is not immune to these threats.

The Nature Conservancy is working to secure protected status for orangutan habitat in the Kelay River basin. Their “collaborative management” approach brings together key stakeholders, including local governments, NGOs, scientists, schools, business people, donors, local communities, and the indigenous Punan Dayak people.

The Punan Dayak view forests as sacred places that nourish and support them. This belief and the traditional forest practices based on it are important reasons why areas near the Kelay River have not yet been ravaged by illegal logging.

Teachers and students played a BIG role in saving acres of forest in the Kelay River Basin. Donations to the Big Gift supported the East Kalimantan project’s ongoing forest conservation and community development initiatives, which include cooperative development programs with the Punan Dayak.

In 2006, your donation was $192,822. Working together, teachers and students saved 3,856 acres of precious Borneo rainforest.

Big Gift 2006-a partnership between Earth’s Birthday Project and The Nature Conservancy.

2005 - Brazilian Amazon Rainforest
One of the Most Important Natural Treasures on Earth
173,607 acres

A land of unique natural wonders and awesome grandeur, the Amazon Rainforest contains one of the Earth’s richest collections of plant and animal life. The Amazon generates a fifth of the world’s free-flowing freshwater and sustains vast expanses of healthy forests, about 60 percent of the world’s tropical rainforest. The Amazon Basin-2.3 million square miles of forest, flood plain, and river in an area about the size of the continental United States-plays a vital role in shaping global rainfall and climatic patterns.

The Amazon is under siege. Pushing inward towards the heart of the Amazon Basin, agriculture, mining, road building, settlements, and logging encroach on pristine forests at alarming rates.

Despite serious losses sustained in the Amazon, immense tracts of the Brazilian Amazon remain intact. A window of opportunity is open for actions to safeguard what may well be the most important natural place on Earth.

Making the most of this critical opportunity, the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) program is designed to safeguard the Brazilian rainforests. World Wildlife Fund, the government of Brazil, and other international partners share a vision to ensure the preservation of key species and habitats, while helping to meet the needs of the people of the Amazon. The ARPA program also aims to protect an ecologically representative sample of the Amazon Basin’s rich biodiversity through its system of strategically located parks and reserves.

In 2005, your donation of $254,000 was matched by a $600,000 grant from the Global Environment Facility for a total Big Gift of $854,000. Working together, teachers and students saved 170,800 acres of precious Amazon rainforest.

Big Gift 2005-a partnership between World Wildlife Fund and Earth’s Birthday Project.

2004 – San Rafael Conservation Area, Paraguay
6,260 acres

The Interior Atlantic Forest is one of the most richly diverse ecosystems in the world—and one of the most threatened. It is ranked as one of the top five global “hot spots” of endangered biodiversity. The Atlantic forests once covered almost 350 million acres, teeming with plants and animals that most of us have never seen and can hardly imagine. Now only about 27 million acres remain. Many of the animals that inhabit the forest are threatened or endangered by loss of habitat. Species never identified by scientists are already extinct.

The San Rafael conservation area is the largest contiguous block of Atlantic Forest in southern Paraguay. In 1992, the area was designated a national park, and in 1997, it became Paraguay’s first Important Bird Area. However, most of the park remains in private ownership. Land purchase is the first priority for conservation of this precious forest and preservation of its abundant species.

Big Gift 2004 conservation partners are The Nature Conservancy and Guyra Paraguay: Conservacion de Aves. Guyra Paraguay, a non-profit, non-governmental organization, works for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, with a special focus on birds. With support from a variety of U.S. and international funders, Guyra purchased 5,600 acres, a core site around which San Rafael National Park will grow.
Your Big Gift 2004 donation will purchase at least 6,260 acres, to more than double the area secured for long-term preservation.

2003 - The Brazilian Cerrado
6,250 Acres!

As of November, 2003, negotiations are underway for purchase of our Big Gift site in the Brazilian Cerrado. The Nature Conservancy has identified three tracts, a total of 24,000 acres, in the area along the Tocantinzinho River in the Upper Tocantins watershed.

The area is just 33 kilometers south of Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, 540,000 acres of untouched wilderness. A range of habitats—grasslands, high-altitude Cerrado, semi-deciduous forest, and gallery forests—supports many threatened and endangered animals, including the giant anteater, giant armadillo, maned wolf and jaguar. The presence of rare species indicates that the area is well preserved, but its situation is precarious. The most serious threats are encroachment by commercial soy bean plantations and intensive cattle ranching. Ranching is bringing invasive African grasses to the Cerrado, which could permanently destroy native ecosystems.

Teachers and Kids Making a World of Difference!
The Brazilian Cerrado is classified as a “hot spot” of endangered biodiversity—the least protected of twenty-five hot spots worldwide. Less than a fifth of the Cerrado remains in its natural state; currently only 1 percent of what is left is protected in parks and reserves. In 2003, you made an important difference. Your generosity will launch a new reserve, dedicated to conserving the Cerrado by protecting thousands of acres of highly endangered habitat, raising public awareness and setting an example for future conservation.

2002 - Mata Atlântica, Brazil
7,691 Acres!

Congratualtions, teachers and students — In 2002 you raised $300,000 to purchase and protect 7,500 acres of rainforest in Mata Atlântica — the Atlantic Forest of southern Brazil!

This is an accomplishment in any year. In 2002, following the events of September 11, it’s an amazing act of generosity and devotion to rainforest conservation.
You are teachers and kids making a world of difference!

Children’s Donation Leverages a Million Dollars!
Your gift has been transferred to The Nature Conservancy, where it will be leveraged to raise up to $1,250,000 in climate-action funding. The Conservancy has identified land purchases that will

• preserve the last remaining woodland habitat for four world-endangered bird species.
• increase protected habitat for the endangered golden lion tamarin by 50 percent.
• purchase and protect acres of magnificent Araucaria pine forest, one remnant of a vast pine forest now almost completely destroyed.

2001 - Madre de los Aguas, Dominican Republic
45,000 acres

As of November, 2003, The Nature Conservancy and Fundacion Moscoso Puello are working together to purchase and provide long-term protection for 9,625 acres of threatened forest, to be included in Perez Rancier National Park. The purchase is part of a larger effort to unify and protect the entire Madre de las Aguas conservation area. In addition to enlarging the national park, conservation projects include linking the park to the Ebano Verde Scientific Reserve, hiring and training park rangers, reforesting abandoned farm land, and training local agricultural collectives in low-impact farming, sustainable forest harvest and wildcrafting. Both The Nature Conservancy and the Fundacion are committed to building local communities and enlisting them as forest stewards to ensure conservation. The Madre de las Aguas conservationa area includes 357,063 acres in the Central Mountain Chain of the Dominican Republic. This unique, “tropical alpine” landscape—a mosaic of coniferous pine, montane broadleaf, and cloud forest—contains the headwaters of seventeen major rivers. Of these, six rivers, the Nizao, Bao, Ocoa, las Cuevas, Yuna, and Camu, all relatively unspoiled, provide drinking water and energy to over 75 percent of the country’s population.

The Madre de las Aguas ecosystem is linked to the United States by migratory songbirds, including Bicknell’s thrush, American redstart, black-throated blue warbler, and the endangered prairie warbler. These and other North American migratory birds over-winter in the conservation area and in threatened forests throughout the Caribbean and Central America, returning each summer to breed in the United States and Canada.

2000 - Maya Mountain Marine Corridor, Belize
13,650 acres

From ridges to reef, the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor will soon include 1 million acres. Rivers flow uninterrupted from lush highlands to dense mangrove forests along the shore. Coral reefs thrive around tiny islands in the sea. Mayan families still live in small villages near streams. TIDE has begun purchasing land, developing community education and awareness, and encouraging ecotourism for the region.

• In Jan 2000, the Prime Minister of Belize declared Port Honduras a marine preserve for the protection of endangered coral and marine life. TIDE advocated the declaration for 6 years and will manage the new preserve.
• In June 2000, TIDE sent the first park rangers to patrol the coastline and streams of the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor, protecting manatee, sea turtles, jaguars and other special animals from illegal poaching.
• Last spring for the first time, children in southern Belize celebrated the Earth by caring for native Blue Morpho butterflies in their classrooms and releasing them into the nearby rainforest.

1999 - Centro Campesino of Sierra de Lacandon National Park, Guatemala
9,614 acres

Sierra de Lacandon National Park includes more than 500,000 acres of pristine forest in the Guatemalan highland frontier. It is part of the trinational, 10-million-acre Maya Biosphere Reserve. Centro Campesino, in the heart of the forest along the shores of the Usamacinta River, is a gateway into the forest, making it significant for the protection of the whole park. Defensores de la Naturaleza, in agreement with the Guatemalan government, manages the park and Centro Campesino. http://www.defensores.org.gt (Spanish)

• Negotiations for a small part of Centro Campesino will provide an agricultural cooperative with legal title to new lands, a new school and a well.
• Defensores and the Guatemalan government have agreed to share the administration and management of Sierra de Lacandón. The first of its kind in Latin America, this co-administration agreement could become a model for conservation areas and national parks in other countries.

1998 - New River, Belize
12,171 acres

New River is the most recent addition to the 240,000-acre Rio Bravo, managed by Programme for Belize. This intact tropical forest is home to jaguar, tapirs and over 350 bird species. In neighboring countries many of these species are near extinction. New River/Rio Bravo is part of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, which includes forests of the Yucatan and Guatemala, once the home of the Mayan civilization. http://www.pfbelize.org (English)

• Programme for Belize is researching the regeneration of mahogany and other tropical hardwoods at their tree nurseries. Surrounding communities are involved and encouraged to begin sustainable businesses combining reforestation and low-impact forestry on private property.
• Scientists are measuring carbon absorption in the established forests of Rio Bravo. This research could help alleviate global warming and climate change. Six U.S. energy companies are funding the research in Belize and several other countries.
• Over 60 bird species live in both the New River/Rio Bravo area and the Edge of the Appalachia Preserve in Ohio. These two preserves are now partners, protecting the habitat of migratory birds and hundreds of other bird species native to Belize and Ohio. Through The Nature Conservancy’s Wings of the Americas, several similar partnerships have begun—generously funded by Canon U.S.A., Inc.

1997 - Pantanal, Brazil
12,743 acres

The Pantanal is an immense tropical wetlands whose annual cycle of flooding and receding covers an area approximately the size of Colorado. Its populations of large animals, spread among forests, grasslands and wetlands, are comparable to those of Africa. Millions of waterfowl, many migrating from North America, breed along its marshes and rivers. Giant otters, caimans and capybaras share the savannas and forest with jaguars, hyacinth macaws and anteaters. Ecotropica Foundation, a Brazilian conservation organization working in the Pantanal, and The Nature Conservancy are pursuing numerous strategies to preserve the ecology of this incomparable region. http://www.ecotropica.org.br (Portuguese)

• To expand protected areas, Ecotropica has purchased three privately owned areas adjacent to the national park. The new areas contain uplands, large lakes, and at least 64 mammal and 185 bird species.
• To encourage science-based decision-making for regional land use issues, Ecotropica is creating a database of ecological information about the Pantanal and similar areas.
• Ecotropica has opposed huge channelization and dam projects for many years. A Rios Vivos coalition of over 300 community organizations is part of the opposition. Ecotropica’s Integrated Regional Development Plan for the Cuiaba River Basin, the Pantanal’s main source of water, proposes alternative and environmental solutions for the region’s agricultural, educational, sanitary and financial issues.

1996 - Mbaracayu Forest Reserve, Paraguay
37,000 acres

This unique reserve is one of the last remaining stands of interior Atlantic rainforest. It is a refuge for many threatened species, including tapirs, white winged night jars, bush dogs, giant armadillos, hyacinth macaws and Paraguay’s national bird—the bare throated bellbird. Recently the reserve was enlarged from 143,000 acres to 160,000 acres by purchasing the Jejui River watershed. Mbaracay Forest Preserve is owned and managed by Fundacion Moises Bertoni (FMB). In a struggling nation, the Fundacion Moises Bertoni endeavors “to create something that will last forever.” http://www.mbertoni.org.py (Spanish)

• FMB has constructed 5 park guard stations and hires park rangers from local communities.
• Working with neighboring communities to improve health care, education and job opportunities is integral to FMB’s mission of long-term protection of the rainforest. With FMB support, local farmers learn sustainable agriculture through community associations. Recently, an ambulance has been donated for the villages. Environmental education programs for school children are active in Asuncion, the capital.
• The Ache people have traditionally hunted the region. FMB provides them the legal right to hunt non-endangered species with traditional bows and arrows. They are also helping the Ache get electricity and build permanent homes. University of New Mexico anthropologist Kim Hill studies the Ache and helps them preserve their culture while incorporating modern life. He has hired and trained Ache hunters to use Global Positioning Systems & other technology for mammal population studies on the reserve.
• A permanent science laboratory has been established and equipped with help from U.S. universities and the Japanese government. Detailed insect and plant surveys are sponsored by London’s Natural History Museum and the Paraguayan Natural History Museum in the reserve’s 19 natural communities.
• Bird life is abundant in the Mbaracayu. Working with the World Wildlife Fund and Cambridge University, FMB scientists have counted more than 400 different species. They have found more than 50 species native to the Atlantic Forest ecosystem, 12 of which are threatened.

1995 - Talamanca-Caribbean Biological Corridor, Costa Rica
30,000 acres

The Talamanca-Caribbean Biological Corridor connects 78,000 acres that is a patchwork of protected areas, indigenous reserves and private lands. From 12,500 foot peaks to Caribbean reefs, the intact forests of the corridor protect 358 bird species, native plant communities of the region, monkeys, ocelots, jaguarundis and margays. The aim of Asociacion ANAI is the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in the region of Talamanca, Costa Rica. Local communities are trained in organic farming, reforestation with native trees and ecotourism.

• At the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, Asociación ANAI coordinates the protection of the leatherback sea turtle and its nesting sites. Poaching took 90 percent of the turtle eggs in the 1980s. Now 85 percent of the eggs are protected; local communities and international volunteers participate.
• ANAI and The Nature Conservancy’s Wings of the Americas collaborate with local farmers to protect bird habitat through the expansion of organic, shade-grown cacao plantations. ANAI has trained local people to document regional wildlife. Last October, stunning numbers of hawks, eagles and falcons were recorded migrating through coastal Talamanca. ANAI and TNC-Wings have begun collaborations with the Veracruz River of Raptors in Mexico to share skills and develop a Mesoamerican Raptor Migration Corridor.
• A Rapid Ecological Assessment has recently been completed. Discoveries included a new frog species, threatened species of bats not previously found here and new areas of coral in the Caribbean. Two key properties have been identified and purchased as a result.

1994 - Punta Patino Reserve, Darien Region of Panama
30,000 acres

The 1.5 million acre Darien Biosphere Reserve is Central America’s largest uninterrupted rainforest. Stretching across southern Panama from the Caribbean to the Pacific, the Darien is among the most diverse ecosystems of tropical America. The endangered capuchin monkey lives here, as does the harpy eagle, Panama’s national bird. The Kuna and Embera people still live in traditional communities along its river valleys. ANCON actively protects several reserves such as Punta Patino. http://www.ancon.org (Spanish)

• Recently, the President of Panama vowed to continue stalling the extension of the Pan-American Highway through the Darien, fearing deforestation along the highway, as well as drug trafficking and violence from Columbia.
• ANCON and the National Institute of Renewable Resources have cooperated to demarcate national parksand build trails and educational exhibits.
• More than 1 million native seedlings per year are grown for reforestation and soil restoration projects at ANCON reserves.
• The Punta Patino Reserve protects more than 10 percent of the mangrove forests on the Pacific side of Panama. Marine scientists study the mangrove forests and their relationship to commercial fisheries.

1993 - Guaraquecaba Environmental Protection Area, Brazil
6,857 acres

The Guaraquecaba Environmental Protection Area is a World Biosphere Reserve and a storehouse of biological diversity. More than 50 percent of its trees and plants are found nowhere else on earth. Of Brazil’s 202 endangered species, 171 depend on the Atlantic forest, including the yellow-throated caiman, tapirs, red-tailed parrot and the black-faced lion tamarin. The protection area is a broad area of private reserves and national parks, as well as farms, ranches and logged areas. Once the Atlantic rainforest covered 400,000 sqare miles, today most of the remaining 7 percent is within this 775,000-acre tract. Boticàrio Foundation for the Preservation of Nature and The Society for Wildlife Research & Environmental Education (SPVS) are partners in the ongoing protection of Guaraquecaba. http://www.fbpn.org.br (Portuguese)

• Working to strengthen and expand protected areas, SPVS conducts restoration and reforestation programs and supports research on native flora and fauna. Resource management and sustainable initiatives for the local fishing industry and heart-of-palm extraction could prevent overuse and the collapse of local economies.
• Community-based alliances are improving the area’s standard of living, which is a precursor to improving local conservation practices. Preventative health care programs, primarily for women and children, operate from a community center built by SPVS. Environmental education for children, cultural events and movies are also provided at the center.
• The Climate Action Project in Guaraquecaba will restore and protect 20,000 acres of eroded or bare tropical forests. It will also protect standing forest. With a total investment of $5.4 million, the Project is expected to reduce or avoid emissions equivalent to approximately 1 million metric tons of carbon over the next 40 years. The Project is a collaboration between American Electric Power, The Nature Conservancy and SPVS.

1992 - Rio Bravo Conservation & Management Area, Belize
9,857 acres

The large 240,000-acre Rio Bravo is a rich ecosystem managed by Programme for Belize. The intact tropical forest is home to jaguar, tapirs and over 350 bird species. In neighboring countries many of these species are near extinction. The Rio Bravo is part of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, which extends to forests of the Yucatan and Guatemala, once the home of the Mayan civilization. http://www.pfbelize.org (English)

• Programme for Belize is researching the regeneration of mahogany and other tropical hardwoods at their tree nurseries. Surrounding communities are involved and encouraged to begin sustainable businesses combining reforestation and low-impact forestry on private property.
• Scientists are measuring carbon absorption in the established forests of Rio Bravo. This research could help alleviate global warming and climate change. Six U.S. energy companies are funding the research in Belize and several other countries.
• Over 60 bird species live in both the Rio Bravo area and the Edge of the Appalachia Preserve in Ohio. These two preserves are now partners, protecting the habitat of migratory birds and hundreds of other bird species native to Belize and Ohio. Through The Nature Conservancy’s Wings of the Americas, several similar partnerships have begun—generously funded by Canon U.S.A., Inc.

1991 - Sierra de las Minas Cloud Forest Reserve, Guatemala
8,571 acres

The esteemed Guatemalan conservation organization Defensores de la Naturaleza has management authority over the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve. The quetzal, Guatemala’s national bird, is protected among the river valleys and cloud forests of the reserve. Mostly primary forest, the Sierra de las Minas is a significant resource for reforestation projects throughout Central America. http://www.defensores.org.gt (Spanish)

• With the establishment of the reserve boundaries, Defensores hired park rangers and removed 16 logging operations.
• Recently, Defensores purchased 3,300 acres from the Vega Larga community. In exchange for a 1,350-acre farm with legal title, the indigenous community moved to new homes for 32 families, a new school, a church and drinking water system built by Defensores and the Guatemalan government. Scientists will now use the buildings of the original village.
• A migratory corridor between Sierra de las Minas and neighboring Bocas del Polochic is planned. The Eastern New York chapter of The Nature Conservancy is a partner with Defensores to purchase and protect the corridor.

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