Todd Parr Helps Protect Rainforests!

Todd Parr and Tiki, photo: RAN/Lola Catero

Hellllo everyone! Tiki the Tiger here. I just made the coolest new friend everrr, and I want you to meet him! His name is Todd Parr, and he is a children’s author – that means that he writes books for kids. I like Todd because sometimes he is silly and makes me laugh, but I also like Todd because he loves and cares for the Earth, our home.

Todd and I recently hosted an event together at The Booksmith in San Francisco. At the event, Todd read all of his favorite books, including my all-time favorite, The Earth Book. This roarrrsome book teaches us how we can take care of the earth each and every day. And The Earth Book is even printed on recycled paper – meaning no trees, especially those in my rainforest home, were cut down to make it!

After Todd read his books, my friends at Rainforest Action Network, helped

Roaring for Tiki, photo: RAN/Lola Catero

me to tell my story (since not everyone can understand when tigers speak). They told everyone that my forest home in Indonesia was being cut down for paper used in books. No one was happy when they heard that, so everybody, big and small, ROARed with me and agreed that rainforest-safe books, like the Earth Book, were the way to go.

The whole day was tigerrrific! Thanks to Todd Parr for being my friend (and favorite author) and to the Booksmith for hosting us and supporting rainforest-safe books! I hope we can all get together again one day soon! For more photos of the event, check out my Facebook page!

A note from RCF President Jim Penn

Thanks to the generous support of our members, we are very pleased with the recent expansion and reach of our conservation programs in Amazonia, East Africa and South Asia, and above all, their on-the-ground conservation impact. RCF remains dedicated to supporting grass-roots rainforest conservation efforts that blend local knowledge, scientific research and community efforts into projects that provide concrete conservation and community benefits. We ask that you continue to support us during 2011 as we advance our goals and face new challenges. Invite your friends to join as new members, and please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or ideas.

Jim Penn, RCF President
December 2010

Rainforest corridor program in southern Sri Lanka

Rainforest corridor program in southern Sri Lanka with partner Rainforest Rescue International (RRI).

RCF Treasurer Jonathan Green and RCF Board member Joy Schochet visited with RRI members in Sri Lanka during January 2010. Impressed with their tour of this grassroots rainforest conservation and restoration effort, RCF decided to support this project during 2010. Sri Lanka has been classified as a biodiversity hot spot, which means it is one of the 25 richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on earth. Sri Lanka’s primary rainforest has been reduced to approximately 6% of its original size and the remaining 188 forest patches are small and fragmented – putting a huge strain on the animal populations that reside in rainforest areas.

The project area in Sri Lanka, and the threatened purple-faced leaf monkey (Trachypithecus vetulus) which needs this threatened rainforest to survive.

The Rainforest Conservation Fund and RRI are now working to restore and conserve the highly-threatened rainforest habitat between the Sinharaja World Heritage Forest Reserve and Kanneliya Forest Reserve, both classified as Man and Biosphere reserves by UNESCO. The program aims to protect and increase habitat and conservation areas by establishing biodiversity corridors between these two large remnant forest patches. These linkages will reduce animal extinction by creating more habitats, maintaining migratory pathways and encouraging gene flow. The initial area of restoration is approximately 10,000 hectares. Together with local communities, the project plants endemic and native trees of high ecological and economic value in degraded forests.

Tree seedlings and the RRI staff members.

With support from RCF, the corridor program is constructing a new rainforest tree nursery at its field station in the village of Hiniduma. Local participation is very enthusiastic, and there is far more demand for the seedlings and inclusion in the project than we can currently provide. This community effort helps to ensure the long-term survival of the trees and address rural poverty, while establishing a vital rainforest corridor connecting protected areas. To date, RCF has provided $4000 to this nursery and tree-planting project, and more funds are needed for 2011.

Conservation work in the Amani Nature Reserve area, Tanzania

Conservation work in the Amani Nature Reserve area of the East Usambara Mountains of Tanzania.

The Eastern Arc Mountains are a series of mountains skirting the coastal region of Tanzania with a tiny extension into south-eastern Kenya. This mountain range is renowned for its biodiversity and high levels of endemism, and as a result, is often described as the “Galapagos Islands of Africa.” Within this range lie the East Usambara Mountains of Tanzania, where the 6000-hectare Amani Nature Reserve has given these threatened cloud forests stronger protected status. Yet the establishment of a reserve is not the end of the story, and much work remains to be done. Since the forest is surrounded by local human populations which utilize forest resources for sustenance, it is critical that these communities support conservation efforts. RCF Adviser Dr. Norbert Cordeiro and his colleague Dr. Henry Ndangalasi (University of Dar es Salaam) were engaged in a conservation project in this area, and RCF treasurer Dr. Jonathan Green approached Dr. Cordeiro about possible RCF support for their project in this highly endangered rainforest. The major conservation work involves planting native tree species of high ecological and economic value (timber, edible and medicinal plants, spices) in degraded forests and fallow areas in and around the Amani Nature Reserve. RCF began supporting this project in February 2010.

The Amani Nature reserve and a villager in a seedling mursery

Key to this forest enrichment and conservation effort is (1) community participation in the planting and maintenance of the trees, (2) the maintenance of a seedling nursery and (3) the production of a laminated Swahili-English seedling guide of forest trees available for multiple users in Tanzania that integrates science with the knowledge of local human communities. To date, RCF has provided $5000 to this project, with another $12,000 needed for 2011.

Local participants and seedling production

Biocultural conservation in association with the Maijuna tribe

Biocultural conservation in association with the Maijuna tribe near the Yanayacu River of northeastern Peru

The Maijuna, also known as the Orejón, are an endangered and marginalized indigenous group found in the northeastern Peruvian Amazon. Today, there are only 400 Maijuna individuals left living in four villages in a large area between the Napo and Putumayo Rivers. The intact nature of Maijuna ancestral lands and the biological diversity present within them is a testament to the past and present environmental stewardship of the Maijuna and the sustainability of their traditional resource use and management strategies. Unfortunately, because Maijuna ancestral lands are rich in resources, they are at times under siege by illegal incursions from poachers and resource extractors from outside their communities. The Peruvian government is considering building a road directly through the heart of Maijuna ancestral territory. The Maijuna are adamantly against this and are asking the Peruvian government to create a protected area that would formally protect over 336,000 hectares of their ancestral lands and the critically important biological and cultural diversity found there.

In response to threats to their biocultural resources, Maijuna elders and leaders established the Federación de Comunidades Nativas Maijunas (FECONAMAI), a Maijuna indigenous federation representing all four Maijuna communities. Since its inception, the principle goals of FECONAMAI have been to (1) conserve the environment, (2) conserve the Maijuna culture, and (3) improve Maijuna community organization. In short, FECONAMAI is literally fighting for the survival of the Maijuna on a daily basis. To assist the Maijuna in this struggle, RCF has teamed up with FECONAMAI to save their critically endangered culture and their biologically rich ancestral lands. Led by the efforts of RCF Board member and ethnobiologist Dr. Michael Gilmore, who has worked closely with the Maijuna on community-based biocultural conservation projects over the past 10 years, and apiculture specialist German Perilla, over the past year RCF has worked to assist and empower Maijuna indigenous communities to conserve their ancestral lands by (1) helping to create a large protected area, (2) providing material support and capacity building to help them guard their lands, and (3) developing a community-based beekeeping project which will ultimately provide a sustainable alternative to more extractive resource use activities.

2010 FECONAMAI Congress

RCF president Jim Penn and extensionists German Perilla, Exiles Guerra, and Gerardo Bertiz, with Maijuna leaders

The Maijuna were seeking assistance in establishing sustainable development activities that will allow them to improve their economic circumstances while conserving both their biological and cultural resources. This is especially urgent because the Peruvian government has insisted that in order to create a reserve for the Maijuna, they must demonstrate that they can develop sustainable local economies that do not harm the environment. Beekeeping is one of the tools that fit this goal. The hive produces an array of products, such as honey, wax and propolis. None of these products requires preservatives or refrigeration to maintain excellent quality. Local and national demand for these products is high. Moreover, bees depend entirely on the forest for their survival; they rely on nectar as their sole source of carbohydrates and pollen as a source of protein. While obtaining resources, bees pollinate the flowers, thus assuring plant reproduction. So it is in the best interest of communities that practice beekeeping to preserve the forest. The ultimate goal of this project (as funding permits) is to build long-term capacity within Maijuna communities using beekeeping to generate income from their environment while simultaneously conserving both their biological and cultural resources. In 2010 RCF provided $10,000 in support for the bee-keeping project. The project worked with 24 families in two communities that currently manage the hives. Our goal is to expand the project in these two villages and to the other two Maijuna communities that are located near the Putumayo River.

German Perilla is seen with some of the first hives

To formalize our efforts and long-term relationship, RCF president Jim Penn and apiculture specialist German Perilla signed an agreement with the president and other leaders of the Federación de Comunidades Nativas Maijuna (FECONAMAI) in August 2010, where we agreed to continue to work together on bee-keeping, guarding the ancestral lands, protecting natural resources and sustainable development. This took place during the two day FECONAMAI conference in the village of Puerto Huaman with RCF Community Conservation Coordinator Gerardo Bertiz and Community Extension leader Exiles Guerra. German Perilla and some of the first hives are shown above. At the same time, Michael Gilmore met with Peruvian government officials in Iquitos to discuss the plans and process for a Maijuna reserve. Since then, RCF has financed a patrol boat for the Yanayacu villages to use to protect their lands, along with other material support for the guard patrols. We are also financing the transportation and material needs for the two southern Maijuna communities in the Yanayacu River to regularly meet with the two distant northern Maijuna communities in 2010-11. For 2011, RCF needs to raise at least $20,000 in order to support the creation of the Maijuna Reserve and an expanded bee-keeping project.

Conservation work in the Area de Conservacion Regional Comunal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo, Peruvian Amazon

Conservation work in the Área de Conservación Regional Comunal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo (ARCTT) to protect the reserve and to support the communities in the buffer zone of the reserve.

RCF has continued conservation work on the Área de Conservación Regional Comunal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo (ARCTT) with extensionists from our sister group in Peru, the Asociación para la Conservación y Desarrollo Amazónico (ACDA), other contracted extensionists, a nurse, and local villagers. RCF provides material support to the local guard system that patrols and protects the area from outsiders who may come to poach resources. We also support the logistical and material needs of the locally elected management committee for the reserve (Comité de Gestión) that was mandated by the Peruvian government and attend all meetings as requested by authorities. Donated items include typewriters, record books and other materials so that all meetings, agreements and requests are recorded and documented. We also provide funds for transportation of village representatives to the city of Iquitos or district capital of Tamshiyacu as needed. The results of these conservation efforts continue to be apparent and noticeable in 2010 as wildlife, including primates and jaguars is now common in forests right outside Tahuayo River communities, and will even enter villages in broad daylight.

Beginning in 2009, we expanded our work into a large new watershed area; the Quebrada Tamshiyacu. The northernmost part of the reserve, this area is home to several communities on the periphery that have been in great need of assistance to manage their resources and now play a key role as conservation partners for the reserve. During the past year, with RCF help, communities in the Quebrada Tamshiyacu have been active in organizing their communities to protect this side of the reserve and sustainably manage their buffer zone resources and lands. Conservation leaders from the Rio Tahuayo have assisted us in these efforts. There, we have an agroforestry project with four villages based on the successful Tahuayo experience, as well as an agroforestry and environmental education project with the largest secondary school in the area. We know that like in Tahuayo, this conservation work will take time to see significant results, but this is an area that is of vital strategic importance for the reserve.

RCF continues to support exchanges between community residents, conservation leaders, and sustainable development experts across this vast region. Members of the last remaining Maijuna communities visited the Tahuayo River twice during 2010 to learn how the reserve was created and has been managed by communities. The RCF field station in the Tahuayo River helps facilitate this. While the station remains part of the Tahuayo community and residents of Tahuayo villages are still the main users of the station (for healthcare, education, meetings, etc.). RCF President Jim Penn, RCF Board members Chris Miller and Michael Gilmore, and RCF extension coordinator Gerardo Bertiz brought visitors and researchers to the area in 2010. Some of the institutions that have recently used the facility for conservation, education and community support include: El Comité de Gestión de la ACRCTT, Centro de Salud – Esperanza, Federación de Comunidades Nativas Maijuna (FECONAMAI), Programa de Conservación, Gestión y Uso Sostenible de la Diversidad Biológica en la Región Loreto (PROCREL), The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), University of Berkeley Haas Business School, George Mason University, and the San Diego Zoo.

Healthcare in the area continued to receive RCF support in 2010. RCF pays a nurse to help with vaccination campaigns, prenatal and general healthcare in the buffer zone of the reserve, with an emphasis on women’s health and reproductive care. We also provide material support to the health post in the Tahuayo village of Esperanza, including medicines and gasoline for their boat, which was financed by RCF.

We recently expanded our work with Tahuayo River women who make artwork and crafts from the fibers of chambira palms (Astrocaryum chambira). The conservation and sustainable use of this species has been a concern near the reserve because of the increased international demand for chambira palm products. Moreover, the income from chambira goes directly to women, who use the money for family necessities, and especially for the needs of their children. In 2010 RCF provided additional equipment and footwear the women need to sustainably harvest the fibrous fronds of these very spiny palms. We also donated additional tools and supplies that help the women to create their crafts. Most importantly, we expanded our work into four communities during 2010 that use chambira palms for fiber in the Tahuayo River. RCF helps these families obtain planting stock and enrich their gardens with these palms, so that they will cultivate enough chambira to be able to sustain their weaving and artwork economy without having to go into the reserve and harvest the fiber. All women in the buffer zone who weave chambira fibers for artwork commerce now work on chambira cultivation with RCF extensionists. At the same time, RCF extensionist Gladis Atías and RCF president Jim Penn conducted research on the extraction and sale of chambira fibers in order to determine the ecological and economic impacts of this enterprise. The study is needed to provide an accurate assessment of this resource use.

Artisans with Gladis Atías.

RCF continued to work in 2010 with communities in sustainable agroforestry systems so that they can plant species of ecological and economic importance in their gardens in the buffer zone of the reserve. Over 140 families in the Tahuayo and Tamshiyacu river basins now work in our agroforestry and tree-planting projects. The conservation goal is to enrich the area outside of the reserve with these species, especially trees, so that local residents will not have to enter the reserve to find them. Key species in this effort include aguaje (Mauritia flexuosa) and chambira palms (Astrocaryum chambira), and camu camu (Myrciaria dubia). At the same time, wildlife that rely on these species for food (e.g., primates, ungulates), will have more fruits to feed on in the wild when humans adopt this advantageous alternative to forest extraction. We would like to point out that in a different area located near the city of Iquitos, our newest agroforestry project expanded from one to three families in a small village located on the lower Itaya River. RCF helped finance the construction of a guard station there which helps protect the last remaining large area of mature rainforest near the mouth of the Itaya River and its wildlife.

Itaya River guard station construction project.

Mapping wild camu camu stands with a GPS unit.

Meanwhile, RCF Board member Dr. Chris Miller has been directing restoration work during 2010 on aguaje palm swamps (Mauritia flexuosa) that had been damaged from the cutting of fruit-producing palms and had been invaded by other vegetation with local approval for this long-term project. Extensive restoration work through the planting of young palms and the removal of invasive vegetation has been carried out since June of 2010 and will continue as funding permits. These palm swamps also serve as a research laboratory and a training area for community conservation leaders who are very concerned about the conservation and restoration of this keystone forest species.