The World Rainforest Fund has a very special current project that we need money to carry out. We intend to save a rainforest ecosystem in Ecuador that has the highest number of species per acre on the entire planet. This has been verified by studies by botanists and zoologists. Species there include monkeys, parrots, bromeliads, butterflies, brightly colored frogs, majestic trees, spectacular vines, and many other spectacular animal and plant species. This high biodiversity is the result of the fact that the low land Amazonian rainforest and the mountainous Andes ecosystems meet and overlap in this area, so that species from both ecosystems occur together here. It also has an unusually high number of endemic species (species found nowhere else on earth). This unprotected rainforest is adjacent to Sumaco/Napo-Galeras National Park. These two facts are cause for enthusiasm in themselves. Yet this case is especially exciting because the government of Ecuador has agreed to add this area to the national park if we can raise the money to pay lawyers to draw up the legal papers, and to provide the local people with an alternative means of making a living to cutting the rainforest. The rainforest, one of approximately twenty terrestrial hotspots of biodiversity on earth, is in the Tena upper Napo region, along the Pusuno River Valley. The indigenous people are mainly Quechua people who live in in villages in the area. They are aware of the environmental effects of rainforest destruction and want to preserve the rainforest, but are starving and in economic desperation, and see no alternative but to grow local cash crops, known as naranjilla and tomate de arbol, in order to make enough money to eat. These crops require clearing of large areas of rainforest and spraying of pesticides to grow. The estimated amount of money needed to do everything necessary to have the rainforest added to Sumaco/Napo-Galeras National Park is $250,000, a very small sum in relation to costs of governmental projects and military budgets today.
If we fail to raise the entire amount, we will use what we raise to help the indigenous people with alternative livings, and be able to save part of the ecosystem. One of projects that provide an alternative living and will yield an impact with only a few thousand dollars is growing organic tea in a sustainable way, and drying the leaves with solar power. This currently evolving project, called the Guayusa Tea House, will give the indigenous communities an alternative to cutting and burning the rainforest. The villages are on the western border of the national park. Thus, the idea of buffer zones is being utilized to protect biodiversity. This is an initiative aiming to open a market for Guayusa, a tea rich in anti-oxidants that is good for the health, prevents cancer, and promotes longevity. The funds raised from the sale of the tea will be used to restore rainforest that has been cut as well as preserve intact forest. One tea dryer is already built out of a total of seven needed to accomplish a sustainable project that has a high probability of saving a substantial area rainforest there. There is, even now, a market for the tea, which is already being sold in three stores in Bellingham Washington, with growing worldwide interest. Since the tea will be purchased at above-market prices from the indigenous farmers, there will be the opportunity to negotiate conservation, including conservation easements, with the indigenous people. One facility to grow and dry the tea can be built for $7,000, so we can save some rainforest if we raise a sum much smaller than our $250,000 goal. We are fortunate to have a connection with the government of Ecuador and the indigenous and local people through Fundacion OSA. This non-profit foundation is run by Jonathon Miller, who is well-connected with officials in the government of Ecuador and local and indigenous people in and near the rainforest we are trying to add to the national park. He is familiar with the needs of the people and rainforest in the area of the park. Fundacion OSA has an impressive track record of saving Latin American rainforest. From 1990 to 1994, it was instrumental in creating Napo-Galeras National Park, which today is actually part of Sumaco/Napo-Galeras National Park, and removing local settlers from the park and raising funds to provide them an alternative living to cutting the rainforest. Opening a market for Guayusa Tea it will offer a valid alternative economy to cutting the forest. Creating sustainable economies is a strategy that is realistic and proven from past projects by various organizations to succeed in protecting rainforest and species diversity while aiding local people. It is a vital long-term solution that fosters co-operation of the local people to preserve nature.
For the first $15,000, for every dollar donated to this project, two additional dollars will be donated by matching grants, one dollar by Jonathon Miller, and one dollar by an anonymous donor, tripling the impact of your gift to empower local and indigenous people, and save the rainforest ecosystem with the highest number of species per acre on earth.