Nonprofit Spotlight: Rainforest Foundation U.S.

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In October 2021, PennyLoafer donors collectively gave to the Rainforest Foundation U.S. (RFUS)!

The Rundown

  • Years founded: 1988

  • Leadership: Suzanne Pelletier has led the org for the last 12 years. But it was actually founded by Sting (~every breathe you take~), after he met an indigenous leader from Brazil that wanted to protect his territory.

  • Issue they address: deforestation of tropical rain forests, biodiversity loss and human rights.

  • What they do: partner with indigenous peoples in Central and South America to protect their rainforest ecosystems.

  • How they do it:

    • Help indigenous peoples secure, understand and assert rights for their land and forests.

    • A community-led rainforest monitoring program (called Rainforest Alert) that uses smart phone technology to identify unauthorized deforestation.

    • Directly invest in organizations on the ground to build capacity, advocate for policy change and help with land management plans.

Why they were chosen

Their work is evidence-based, cost-effective and scalable. RFUS recognizes that indigenous peoples are the best guardians of the forests and directly invests in those on the frontline. The evidence:

  • UN report analyzing 300+ studies found that deforestation rates in Latin America and the Caribbean are significantly lower in Indigenous and Tribal territories where governments have formally recognized their collective land rights. RFUS has helped title 33+ million acres of forest.
  • With land rights comes the need to monitor. A two-year, peer reviewed study showed that RFUS’ Rainforest Alert monitoring program halved deforestation in territories that used their technology. They’re working to rapidly expand the program.

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🌳  Deforestation is one of the largest carbon-dioxide emitters, accounting for ~15% of global CO2 emissions (and it’s a doubly bad: clearing and burning trees adds emissions to the atmosphere and ends the trees potential to capture CO2).

🇬🇷  Even after reforestation efforts, deforestation claims an area about the size of Greece every year. Nearly all of it is happening in the tropics.

🐄  The main driver of deforestation is (by far) beef production, followed by the production of soy, palm oil and wood. In the Amazon, cattle farming accounts for 80% of deforested land.

🌴  The Amazon is the largest tropical rainforest, 10M years old and home to 390B trees. About 17% of it has been lost to deforestation, and some scientists suggest a ‘tipping point’ at 20-25%, when the rainforest will be permanently altered.

👀  The pivotal UN Climate Change Summit (COP26) is happening now is Glasgow. All eyes on world leaders. A recent UN report warns nations’ current pledges to reduce green house gas emissions are far short of where they need to be.

If you enjoyed this and want to get involved, you can support the Climate Change cause on PennyLoafer, starting with as little as $5/month. Each month, you’ll support and learn about a different nonprofit fighting the climate crisis.