$100 Million Initiative to Create New Protected Areas for Endangered Species
At a recent international conference, Rainforest Trust announced a major initiative to help establish Protected Areas across the tropics.
Rainforest Trust has launched the SAVES (Safeguarding Areas Vital to Endangered Species) Challenge at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC) in Hawaii. Through this initiative, Rainforest Trust has committed to raise $50 million as a challenge match that will direct a total of $100 million to create new Protected Areas throughout the tropics for the planet’s most endangered species.
This announcement coincides with President Barack Obama’s recent expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, a refuge for more than 7,000 marine species that is now the largest Protected Area on the planet. President Obama spoke about this expansion and the impacts of conservation the day before the opening of the IUCN’s World Conservation Congress (WCC) held in Hawaii this September.
Every four years, the IUCN hosts the world’s largest conservation event where scientists, government officials, business leaders, representatives from indigenous groups and non-governmental organizations gather to discuss pressing issues affecting conservation and sustainable development. The WCC has two sections: the Forum, which is an opportunity for participants to share experiences, develop collaborations and showcase efforts to address the complex challenges facing biodiversity; and the Members’ Assembly, where IUCN members collectively decide on the direction of the organization and lay the foundation for significant global conservation action.
“Rainforest Trust is built on the belief that collaboration is the key to conservation success,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, Rainforest Trust CEO. “The IUCN WCC provides an important opportunity for groups, no matter how big or small, to have a say on the international conservation stage.”
The SAVES Challenge was strategically launched during the IUCN WCC, as Rainforest Trust seeks to drastically grow its efforts by forging new alliances with in-country organizations that will assist in securing lands for species assessed as Endangered or Critically Endangered on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.
At the IUCN WCC, Salaman met with distinguished conservationist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner E.O. Wilson, who is a supporter of Rainforest Trust.
“Rainforest Trust has my highest respect and in my opinion deserves support,” Wilson had previously noted in an endorsement of the nonprofit. “The [organization] is a model of what international conservation efforts should be.”
Wilson was elated to learn about the SAVES Challenge at the WCC, which directly advances his vision of protecting at least half of the planet.
Rainforest Trust collaborates with local organizations to safeguard areas vital to endangered species by creating permanent Protected Areas in regions most at risk of habitat destruction. These Protected Areas are established and permanently protected through direct land purchase and acquisition, the designation of national parks and other government Protected Areas, the conversion of logging concessions, or the creation of community conservation areas whose borders are managed and maintained by forest guards.
Just this year, Rainforest Trust has helped establish nearly 5 million acres of critical Protected Areas across Latin America, Asia and Africa. Most recently, Rainforest Trust worked with a local partner in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to create a massive Protected Area, which is almost equal in size to Yellowstone National Park. The nearly 2.2 million-acre Lomami National Park in the heart of the Congo Basin secures vital habitat for a host of threatened species, including Bonobos, Okapis and Forest Elephants. Since 1988, Rainforest Trust and its local conservation partners have strategically created over 100 new Protected Areas toward the goal of protecting 50 million acres of vital habitat by the year 2020.
“The challenge is to respond to the urgency of saving the last great wildlife habitats on earth,” said Salaman. “We need to act now to ensure these areas are protected while they still exist. We are determined to do so through the SAVES Challenge, and we invite all conservationists and philanthropists to join us.”
Join the SAVES Challenge by making a major and lasting impact protecting the world’s most imperiled wildlife through a generous gift to Rainforest Trust or by becoming a conservation partner to help create Protected Areas.