There are a lot of things that you can do to make a difference to help save rainforests. One thing that you can do is raise money for Rainforest Action Network’s Protect-an-Acre program. You may have heard of conservation programs where you can ‘buy’ an acre of rainforest. This program is kind of like that, but it is different in one important way.
This program is unique because it supports the Indigenous Peoples that live in the rainforest with their efforts to protect their forest homes. Many Indigenous Peoples have lived in the rainforests for thousands of years. They depend on the forest for food, medicine, clothing, and shelter. If the rainforest is destroyed, people that live in the forest are left without a home.
Rainforest Action Network’s Protect-an-Acre program gives small amounts of money, called grants, to communities of Indigenous Peoples that live in forests around the world. The communities then use the money in different ways to help protect their traditional land and resources.
One way the Protect-an-Acre program helps forest peoples protect their rainforest homes is by helping them gain land title, or ownership of their land. This is important because even though forest peoples may have lived in the same rainforest for thousands of years, some governments often won’t officially recognize that Indigenous Peoples control, or own the land they live on. This puts these communities, and their land, at risk.
When an Indigenous community gains land title from the government, they gain control of their land. This means that it can’t be logged for trees, mined for oil or gold, or otherwise harmed without the Indigenous Peoples’ permission.
It also means that these communities can live on the land for as long as they want. And that’s good news for the rainforests, because many studies and photographs of rainforests from space taken by satellites have proven that where Indigenous Peoples live and have title to their land less deforestation has happened than in other areas.
Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions about the Protect-an-Acre program:
Q: How much rainforest land is protected through the Protect-an-Acre program?
A: The amount of rainforest land that is protected varies with each grant. Sometimes one dollar protects one acre of rainforest, and sometimes it protects twenty acres of rainforest. One thing is sure: a little money goes a long way! Protect-an-Acre supports Indigenous communities that live on traditional territories that cover millions of acres–helping these communities gain or maintain control of their land is the most effective way to protect the rainforest ecosystems that they have called home for thousands of years.
Q: Why not buy rainforest land instead? Isn’t that better?
A: Rainforest Action Network believes that, in most cases, buying rainforest land is not the best way to protect it. Most “buy-an-acre” programs ignore the fact that there are people who live in and depend upon the forest. We believe that the best way to protect rainforest land in the long run is to allow the Indigenous Peoples who live there to control what happens to their own land. Because Indigenous peoples depend on the rainforest for their survival, they often do the best job of protecting it. Besides, it would take a lot more money to buy fifteen thousand acres of rainforest land than it would to help protect it through the Protect-an-Acre program.