Eight Save The Rainforest Organizations With Proven Track Records

by Nicola Temple on November 24, 2011

There are many save the rainforest organizations, each battling in their own way to save some patch of rainforest from destruction.

It’s a subject that is very close to my heart as I used to work for one such organization. It’s a tough job.

I was a conservation biologist for a number of years, and I’ve had the great privilege of seeing first hand some of the beautiful rainforests of the world, including those of Brazil, Belize, Australia and Canada.

Rainforests are what biologists call biodiversity hotspots; they are to the land, what coral reefs are to the ocean.

save the rainforest organizations

Save the rainforest organizations work hard to ensure these critical ecosystems are protected. CC image courtesy of Ben Sutherland on Flickr.

Approximately half of the terrestrial plant and animal species are found in rainforests, even though they cover less than 5% of the Earth’s land surface.

Some argue that the rainforests are also the lungs of the planet, producing as much as 20% of the oxygen we breathe.

Rainforests used to cover as much as 12% of the land surface. However, our destructive quests for resources have converted the majority of these rich ecosystems into clear-cuts and agricultural land; veritable deserts by comparison.

I used to work in the temperate rainforests of central British Columbia. I’ve walked among 1,000 year old trees, in the mossy footprints of grizzly bears, and I’ve seen first-hand the richness of these forests.

I’ve also returned to a stream I had visited the year before to find its banks denuded by logging. What was once a little stream ambling through cedars, spruce and fir, with huckleberries and salal along its banks, was a muddy trench diverted by scrub piles and waste logs. It broke my heart.

It’s these events that spur environmental groups to encourage change in the way we utilize our resources. So here are eight organizations that run rainforest campaigns and have proven themselves effective in their campaigning efforts.

Raincoast Conservation – This is where I’m entirely biased, because this is who I used to work for. However, this means that I know they pack a powerful punch for their small staff and budget. They are dedicated to protecting some of the largest intact temperate rainforest left in the world, the Great Bear Rainforest. They have a staff of scientists and work in partnership with universities to conduct scientific studies on the area. Raincoast researchers have produced studies showing the links between logging and the loss of salmon and they were first to show the importance of salmon in the diet of coastal wolf populations. They use the research to argue for better policies. They’ve also raised funds to purchase two guide-outfitter licenses to stop the trophy hunting of bears and wolves in two critical territories within this rainforest. They work hard to see this area protected and they even have charitable status in the US!

If you’re not familiar with the Great Bear Rainforest, here’s a video:

Greenpeace International – This is one of the big ones of course, but that doesn’t make them less effective. Greenpeace has been around for over 40 years, so they have experience on their side. They are also an international group, giving them global experience and global support. Greenpeace is probably best known for taking action and bearing witness to atrocity, whether interfering with whaling boats or chaining themselves to trees.  However, these days they work just as effectively in political circles arguing for policy change.

WWF – Another of the large international organizations, WWF has over 45 years of international experience. They have a reputation of working well with government. About  83% of their funds go toward campaigns so hard earned donations are not spent on administration and bureaucracy, despite this being such a large organization,  it goes directly to the work that is trying to foster change.

Conservation International – CI probably has the budget of some small nations. It’s a huge organization. I mention them, however, because they too use science and fieldwork to develop evidence-based campaigns. They commission research and their staff are on the ground working with locals, but they are also very well connected and have some political clout.

The Nature Conservancy – The Nature Conservancy is working in Costa Rica, engaging with local and indigenous communities to balance the needs of people with nature. I’ve worked with them in Canada and they are more conservative than many environmental groups, but this gives them more credibility with politicians, meaning they often work closely with government to try and get greener outcomes from processes such as land use planning.

Rainforest Conservation Fund – I’m not directly familiar with this group, but they work in the Amazon with local people to provide alternatives to environmentally destructive practices. Working alongside those that live there is a rather critical element to conservation.

Natural Resources Defence Council –This is another group I have the upmost respect for. They use science and law in their advocacy efforts and they’re effective at their approach. Through the legal system they have stopped imports of illegal mahogany and are closing the US market to illegally logged timber.

Pacific Wild –Ian and Karen McCallister are at the heart of this organization that is also working to protect Canada’s temperate rainforest. I’m not sure I’ve ever met two more dedicated individuals. Ian’s a photographer and has captured many of the iconic images of this region that have touched people’s hearts. They’ve installed remote cameras to film the creatures that live here and bring them to the world in a very non-invasive way.  They’re advocacy efforts are helped greatly by the imagery they bring to their campaigns.

If you’re looking to support an environmental charity, have a look at these eight save the rainforest organizations. They aren’t all dedicated to rainforests entirely, but they all have proven track records to ensure that your hard earned money is used effectively.

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