Latin AmericaThe cornerstone of our Latin American program is land acquisition, restoration and stewardship. While threats to the Amazon rainforest have received significant press, less attention has been given to the unique and even more threatened bioregions that support species with very small geographical ranges.
LAND ACQUISITION AND STEWARDSHIP:
We invest in biodiversity hotspots that include the Chocó of Colombia and Ecuador; the Tumbesian of Ecuador and Peru; and the Atlantic rainforests, mostly in Brazil. Since 2006, our investment in the Jocotoco Foundation has created ecological reserves in Ecuador that provide habitat for threatened, range-restricted bird species. Research shows that many other threatened plants and animals co-occur with these bird species, and thus they too benefit from the reserves. We work with U.S.-based partners, American Bird Conservancy and Rainforest Trust, to support the Jocotoco Foundation and other Latin American non-profit organizations.
Once reserves are created, we recognize the importance of land stewardship. When land purchase slows down, the stewardship costs to manage these areas does not. March Conservation Fund is committed to the long-term support of our Latin American partners, and in 2015 we launched the Latin American Reserve Stewardship Initiative (LARSI). Our goal is to strengthen the internal operations of on-the-ground organizations that are committed to land stewardship. This initiative is a partnership of March Conservation Fund and American Bird Conservancy. Please see our Latin American Grants page for more information on current LARSI partners.
- Ivan Samuels
Nearly all of the LARSI partners demonstrate a strong commitment to environmental education. The reserves that are owned and managed by these organizations are often forest remnants in otherwise deforested and settled landscapes. While this emphasizes the critical importance of these remaining habitats, it also demonstrates the need to communicate this importance to surrounding communities, and school groups are one of the primary ways this is done. Visits by local schools to these reserves often provides a first opportunity for children to explore tropical forests and observe wildlife, which ultimately generates more support for local conservation efforts.
Beyond the private reserve network of our partner organizations, March Conservation Fund is also supporting other leaders in environmental education. Research defines our knowledge of tropical ecosystems, and the Organization for Tropical Studies is a global leader in the integration of tropical research principles into a diverse curriculum of undergraduate and graduate courses, mostly in Costa Rica. We also are supporting long-time environmental education pioneer RARE, creators of the “pride campaign”, which inspires people to take pride in the species and habitats that make their community unique, while also introducing practical alternatives to environmentally destructive practices.
- Pancho Sornoza/Jocotoco Foundation (top), SAVE Brasil (bottom)