What we do
We protect the rainforests of Central and South America
by working with the indigenous communities that call them home.
The Rainforest Foundation works on-the-ground to secure land rights for indigenous people. We strengthen indigenous land security and train indigenous communities to use technology to protect their forests. By investing directly in indigenous communities, we connect people who are deeply motivated to conserve their ancestral lands with the tools, training, and resources necessary to protect their rainforests.
The Rainforest Foundation was founded with a radically new idea:
What if indigenous people of the rainforest–those intimately connected to their ancestral lands–had the legal right to protect the forests we all depend on?
When the Rainforest Foundation began, 30 years ago, environmental organizations didn’t focus on human rights. People living in the rainforest were seen as part of the problem. But one of our founders, Sting, listened to the Kayapo—an Indigenous community living deep in the Brazilian Amazon—and saw that supporting Indigenous communities was the best way to protect rainforests and the cultures that depend on them.
Today data from satellite images and drone footage prove that defending indigenous rights isn’t just the right thing to do, it is the most effective way to protect our forests. It is a fact: rainforests protected by Indigenous communities have the lowest rates of deforestation in Central and South America.
are protecting the rainforest
This map of Peru shows just how effective Indigenous communities are at protecting the rainforest. Notice that Indigenous Land (Green Areas) rarely shows deforestation (Pink Areas).
Just $5 saves an acre of Rainforest!
How We Work
The Rainforest Foundation always works in partnership with indigenous communities and organizations. Together, we protect their forests by securing rights to their territories, strengthening sustainable land management and monitoring their forests.
- Supply legal and technical support so that indigenous communities have the information needed to make decisions and influence public policy.
- Build networks of indigenous technical experts who manage and analyze satellite data, monitor their forests and take action to keep illegal loggers, miners, and traffickers off of their ancestral lands.
- Support leaders and indigenous institutions, the cornerstone of effective advocacy and community-based conservation.
- Provide on-the-ground equipment and training to partners so they can use smartphone, drone and satellite technology in defense of their land.
Why we do it
Human life depends on our rainforests. They are vital to the stability of our climate. Rainforests are carbon sinks that surpass our most sophisticated technology; they absorb 30% of the world’s CO2 emissions each year.
Rainforests are also home to more than half of the world’s animal and plant species. They are a constant source of life-saving medicines. Millions of indigenous peoples depend on the forest for their survival, including our planet’s last uncontacted cultures.
Despite rainforests importance, they are disappearing. Today, we have lost more than half of earth’s original rainforests—every year we lose an area of tropical forest the size of New York State.
But together we are making a difference. To date, we have protected more than 33 million acres of rainforest. Indigenous communities of the rainforest are fighting back, holding the front line for all of us. With your support, Indigenous communities can protect the forests we all depend on for generations to come.