Category Archives: rainforests

Learn more about our partner the World Rainforest Fund!

The World Rainforest Fund (WRF) saves biodiversity. Biodiversity can be defined as the number of species of animals and plants in an ecosystem. The Earth is undergoing a great crisis of mass extinction of species and loss of biodiversity. It is caused by humans, and the leading cause is habitat destruction. The Fund works to stop habitat destruction. We lose huge numbers of species each year. Species are going extinct at a rate that is 100 to 1,000 times greater than the normal background extinction rate. The renowned evolutionary biologist, Dr. Edward O. Wilson, said in 2002 that if current extinction rates continue, one half of all species on Earth will be extinct in 100 years. Biodiversity is crucial to human welfare. Many of our medicines and industrial chemicals come from living organisms. Life stabilizes local and global climate. It holds the soil in place, preventing erosion. It is the source of our food supply. It is a source of beauty, spiritual rejuvenation, tourism, and scientific knowledge. And life has a right to exist for its own sake—we have a moral obligation not to destroy species.

Hyancinth_Macaw__very_endangered_bird__Pantanal__BrazilEndangered Hyancinth Macaw of the Pantanal, Brazil. ©World Rainforest Fund

The World Rainforest Fund saves biodiversity in ecosystems that have the vast majority of it. Rainforests are home to half the land species on Earth, a major source of biodiversity. They have more species of animals and plants than any other terrestrial ecosystem on Earth. Tropical rainforests are being destroyed at the rate of 300 acres per minute worldwide. This is equivalent to the loss of an area half the size of the state of California annually.

The World Rainforest Fund focuses on rainforest conservation where they are most abundant in a continuous area, and where the preservation of them will last with the highest probability, such as the Amazon Basin. The largest area of intact rainforest is the Amazon Basin. World Rainforest Fund projects conserve rainforests in other countries, but focus on Brazil that has the largest amount of rainforest area. Saving the area on Earth with the most continuous rainforest will have the longest lasting effect. It is especially effective because this strategy saves the most corridors connecting areas where species live. Animals need corridors to keep their genetic diversity high enough to allow their survival. Without corridors, animal populations get isolated and undergo inbreeding, which can drive the species extinct due to lack of genetic variability.

Amazon_rainforest_from_plane__BrazilBrazilian Amazon rainforest. ©World Rainforest Fund

The World Rainforest Fund empowers indigenous people to help them save their rainforest homes. Scientific studies have shown that the most effective way to save rainforests is by empowering indigenous people who live in them to save their rainforest homes. It saves the most rainforest land per dollar spent, and saves rainforest in the way that has the highest chance of lasting permanently. This is because tropical countries tend not to have the money to hire a sufficient number of guards to protect rainforests in national parks. Amazonia National Park in Brazil has only six rangers to protect its 3,300 square miles (8,600 square kilometers). Thus, poachers come in and shoot wildlife, cut trees, and mine minerals illegally in these national parks. On the other hand, indigenous people are natural guardians who live in the rainforests, passionately want to protect them, and do not even require a salary.

The World Rainforest Fund is exceptionally effective and efficient at putting your donation to work at its stated mission. All members of our board of directors and board of advisors, and many of our staff, are volunteers, drawing no salary. The organization is a non-membership organization, so no money is spent on newsletters or other expenses incurred by membership organizations; money that would otherwise be spent in these areas is instead put directly to work on saving rainforests. A greater percentage of money we receive from our donors goes to actually carrying out our stated mission. In fact, over ninety percent of the proceeds we receive go directly to work saving the Earth’s rainforests. Our track record of helping indigenous people, giving grants to organizations that save rainforest, educating the public on the need to save rainforests, and saving rainforests through partnering with other organization dedicated to saving rainforests is exceptionally impressive. We are a 501c3, tax-exempt, public non-profit organization and all donations you give are tax-deductible. Our advisory board has many well-known, distinguished people. Our staff and workers are highly knowledgeable and exceptionally dedicated.

The World Rainforest Fund recently granted Fundacion OSA $3,500.00 to attempt to stop an illegal road to a 10,000 acre rainforest in Ecuador that scientists at the Missouri Botanical Garden showed was the ecosystem with the highest biodiversity in the world, meaning it has more species per area than any other ecosystem on Earth. This is because the rainforest and Andes ecosystems overlap in this area, which therefore has species from both of these ecosystems. The road would have allowed loggers, miners, and other exploiters into the rainforest, and it would have been cut down. Fundacion OSA received no grant other than WRF, and would not have been able to stop the road without the grant. They used the money to send in an observer, who found the road was wider than approved by the government of Ecuador. They also used the grant to print up brochures to distribute to officials of Ecuador’s government that showed the beauty and value of the forest to people, the illegality of the road, and the destruction that would result if it were built. As a result, the government of Ecuador stopped the road. Given the high diversity and low cost of this victory, this is just one example of maximizing saving species of animal and plant per donor dollar.

Art of Conservation and Conservation Heritage-Turambe are very pleased to be working with such a small yet impactful organization like our ourselves! Learn more about our partners on our new website!

Major Announcement: Art of Conservation Goes Global!

After months of intensive field visits and meetings with potential partners and community members, ART OF CONSERVATION is officially global! We are bringing our vital assistance programs to communities in ecologically sensitive areas throughout the Caribbean Basin, which includes Mexico, Central America, Venezuela, and Guyana.

After our inspiring and enduring success in Rwanda, we will now inspire children and their families to conserve biodiversity through creative learning and one-health awareness. Julie Ghrist, our Founder and Program Director, will be moving to our new base within the jungles of Tulum in Quintana Roo, Mexico, in just a few weeks.

Staying Healthy with AoC"s One-Healthy Habits©Art of Conservation

Your help can make a world of difference! Please consider making a donation to help fund this critical expansion.

Bringing our proven AoC model to new communities halfway across the world costs a lot, as you would imagine! We can’t do it without your support. We rely on contributions we get from supporters like you to help provide the necessary resources, such as:

$25 provides basic and vital supplies such as textbooks and art supplies for our classrooms

$50 provides toothbrushes and personal health items for children

$100 provides a full year of conservation education for a Mexican child

$250 provides all students the opportunity to attend a weekend family conservation and health workshop

$500 provides Art of Conservation the funding needed to employ local artists and staff to effectively reach our community-based conservation goals in Tulum, Mexico

To continue the important work of Art of Conservation, inspiring and educating children and families worldwide about conserving biodiversity and living healthy, we need you to donate today! During our transition your support is more critical than ever for us to continue our work.

Location, Location, Location!

When Julie Ghrist first arrived in Rwanda 8 years ago, our greatest possible outcome was for local leaders to continue and sustain our work. That vision is now a reality through the work of a newly created partner organization, Conservation Heritage – Turambe (CHT). Read here for more details about CHT and the enduring AoC legacy in Africa.

Now we can bring that proven track record to another vulnerable community – this time within the Caribbean Basin. This region is exceptionally diverse in so many ways – culturally, biologically, and geologically, all within a relatively small area.

AoC will now be working in marine environments, linking connections between marine and terrestrial ecosystems!

  • In northern Honduras, the edge of the Mesoamerican reef (the second largest coral reef on Earth) is less than an hour’s drive from a Garifuna fishing village in one direction, and a stunning mountain rainforest full of toucans in another.
  • In primordial southwestern Guyana where giant anteaters, jaguar, and giant otters are still plentiful, Macushi Amerindians live on expansive savannas and fish in rivers that overflow during the wet season.
  • And in coastal Mexico, The Maya people of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula live near a variety of habitats, including dry and wet tropical forests, mangrove swamps, lagoons, and cenotes—all rich with wildlife.

This is AoC’s vision of one-health conservation!

Our novel approach to conservation outreach has made a significant difference in Rwanda, and we look forward to sharing it with children and their families first in Quintana Roo in Mexico, and then throughout the Caribbean Basin.

Please consider making a donation to fund our work during this very exciting yet critical transition into the Caribbean Basin.

FOUR Things You Can Do Now to Help Ensure Success:

DONATE at Art of Conservation

PROMOTE! Share this with 5 of your friends and ask them to consider making a donation!

SHARE! Find AoC on your favorite social media platforms and share our work with your friends!

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Lastly, we have launched an updated website designed to keep everyone up to date on our exciting progress. We’re so excited to begin sharing updates on our progress, challenges, and the new friends we are making in the Caribbean Basin!

Thank you again for your support!

Julie Ghrist, Founder and Program Director
Allison Hanes, Executive Director

Where Rolando Leads… Lucy, Allison, and I Will Follow

From Julie

You really can’t beat the beauty of Pico Bonito National Park in Honduras. Lucy, Allison, and I arrived by ferry to the city of La Ceiba on the north coast and Caribbean side of the country and quickly made our way to the Omega Tours Eco Jungle Lodge located near the eastern most boundary of the park next to the Cangrejal River.

Silvia and Udo run the lodge offering lovely hospitality and natural beauty everywhere you turn. Having just a day and a half in the area, we were immediately introduced to an equally lovely tour guide… Rolando. Silvia assured us that he was knowledgable about the forest and local communities – which proved positively true. We were joined by Rolando’s grandfather, Alejandro, who at eighty years of age is still strong as an ox.

While ascending foothills in the Nombre de Dios Mountain Range we came upon a huge tree – or at least remnants of a huge tree that is now victim to a strangler fig. Rolando began climbing and of course we followed.

vertical-templatetestWLDGuide Rolando and Lucy climbing a columnar tree.

Honduras ©Art of Conservation 2014Coming out of Nombre de Dios Park, we walk through local communities and ask Rolando many questions. Here we are with Alejandro at a primary school where one of Rolando’s children attends.

Omega Tours in Honduras. ©Art of Conservation 2014We meet Silvia, Udo, and dog Bullet along the road.

Our next activity was to climb into the low lying tropical rain forest of Pico Bonito toward its cloud forest – or at least as far as El Bejucco Waterfall. The forest is stunning. This is probably the most diverse area in Central America.

The Cangrejal River – Pico Bonito NP ©Art of Conservation 2014We cross the Cangrejal River to enter Pico Bonito National Park. Rolando is in the lead followed by Lucy and Allison.

Pico Bonito, declared a national park in 2006, is the second largest national park in Honduras. The total land area is 1,073 square kilometers with over 270,000 acres of unexplored rain forest.

Waterfall in Pico Bonito NP, Honduras. ©Art of Conservation 2014Rolando at El Bejucco waterfall.

We were tired, yes, but Rolando was impressed with the three of us and had to believe every word of our gorilla-volcano-hiking stories we shared with him.

The Cangrejal River in Honduras. ©Art of Conservation 2014Rolando crossing the Cangrejal River.

We were down the mountain and heading back to Omega Lodge with one last cross over of the Cangrejal, this time on a 400-foot-long hanging bridge.

Omega Tours in Honduras. ©Art of Conservation 2014Click here for more Omega Tours information.

Rolando took us to other wild places the following day. Coming up next!

Please keep up-to-date on more Art of Conservation & Conservation Heritage – Turambe news with our e-newsletter. Simply send us your name and contact information to [email protected] Thank you!

Exploring Panama

From Julie

I arrived in Panama a few days in advance of what will be a very interesting conference organized by Earth Train and partners called Spotlighting Biocultural Leadership with Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE. As you may know, Art of Conservation is underway with exciting strategic planning including exploring potential new base of operations with Panama being of key interest. The short time I’ve been here I am enjoying myself immensely and learning a lot. My guides are knowledgeable and hospitable. In just three days I’ve been in the forest, on top of the forest, in the jungle, boating in dugout canoes, swimming under waterfalls, meeting beautiful people and learning about their cultures. The museum at the Miraflores Lock is interactive and informative. People from all over the world gather to view this modern marvel, the Panama Canal. Local food is delicious, my Spanish is terrible, and I am always looking for animals.

Panama City. ©Art of Conservation 2013A view of downtown Panama from the Causeway.

Panama Canal 2013 ©Art of Conservation 2013At the Panama Canal Miraflores Lock Museum. Thank you Mr. Thelen for giving my friends and I our history lesson in Des Moines!

Canopy Crane. Guide Igua and Park Service Staff. ©Art of Conservation 2013At the Canopy Crane in Metropolitan National Park with a park staff member and my guide Igua.

Canopy Crane ©Art of Conservation 2013The Canopy Crane made possible by Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The operator was smiling from his cab and directed our perch to spectacular sites which is 42 meters tall and we were out at 51 meters from the tour.

3-toed beautiful sloth in Panama. Canopy Crane©Art of Conservation 2013A male 3-toed sloth was the first animal we saw in the canopy!

Howler Monkey with baby in Panama. Canopy Crane©Art of Conservation 2013After descending from the canopy, Igua and I took a wonderful walk in the Metropolitan National Park and spotted Howler Monkeys. Igua reports this troop has grown.

Embera Indians in Panama 2013 ©Art of Conservation 2013In Parque Nacional Chagres (crocodiles) with Embera children.

Embera Indians in Panama 2013 ©Art of Conservation 2013More beautiful children in Chagres National Park.

Panama ©Art of Conservation 2013Regrouping by studying a map.

Please join us at our Pratt Exhibition and Fundraiser in New York City on 22 November 2013. Tickets are going quickly! Thank you for your support.

A Conservation with Jeremy at Mongabay

From Julie

Recently I had the fortunate opportunity to have a conversation with Jeremy Hance at Mongabay. Jeremy serves as senior writer and editor. He is the author of Life is Good: Conservation in an Age of Mass Extinction.

Please click here to read our story Art, education, and health: holistic conservation group embarks on new chapter

Thank you Mongabay for allowing AoC to be part of your excellent rainforest and nature conservation news!

©mongabay.comPhoto courtesy of Mongabay