New RCF campaign for the Amazon: Funding climbing harnesses to end the destruction of “The Tree of Life”

Aguaje palms (Mauritia flexuosa) have long been considered to be “the tree of life” in the Amazon rainforest. Their fruits are not only eaten and sold by humans, but they are also an important source of food for a wide range of threatened animals such as monkeys, macaws, tapir and white-lipped peccaries. These massive palm trees produce large amounts of valuable fruit high up in the palm, causing people to cut them down, killing these old, majestic, magnificent symbols of the Amazon rainforest.

Luckily, a new type of climber has been developed that is durable and makes climbing the palms an easy task. Rainforest communities in Peru are now beginning to learn how to use the climbers, which are currently in great demand. For example, working with RCF Maijuna project Director Michael Gilmore, more than 100 men, women and children from the Maijuna indigenous group have been trained in climbing (see photos), and now harvest their aguaje fruit in a sustainable way, with no harm to the palms. Using this example, RCF now embarks on a campaign to finance climbers for families living in isolated areas of the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Community Reserve (ACRCTT) where no alternative exists but to cut down the palms, killing a huge, valuable tree that has taken decades to grow.

While RCF has been planting these palms with several villages, they are slow to mature into fruit producing palms (at least 10 years), and half of the palms will turn out to be males, which don’t produce fruit. Meanwhile, the lure of fruit-bearing female palms in the forest is too great for many communities to ignore, and they continue to cut down these wild palms. These impoverished communities don’t like to cut down the palms for just a single fruit harvest, and are very anxious to receive climbing harnesses as soon as possible.

Just $75 purchases a climbing harness and the training required for a rainforest family. The harness will last up to 20 years and each climbing harness will save dozens of magnificent aguaje palm trees from destruction each and every year.

Please join us in our campaign to fund these climbing harnesses (click the donate button to the right–>). For every donation of $75 or more, we will tell you which villages your climbers will be used in.

We need to provide many more villages with these harnesses, and each and every climbing harness will have a direct and immediate conservation impact.

Some of Michael’s photos from the Maijuna reserve are below:

Sustainable fruit harvesting using the climbing harness.

Sustainable fruit harvesting using the climbing harness.

Women are active participants in the fruit harvests.

Women are active participants in the fruit harvests.

Children are also learning to climb the palms!

Children are also learning to climb the palms!

Help Save the Amazon and an Indigenous Culture – The Maijuna Film Project

Dear friends,

I am embarking on an exciting new documentary film project in the Peruvian Amazon with a filmmaker and several George Mason University students.  Our documentary film will tell the story of the Maijuna indigenous group as they fight to save their ancestral lands and traditional culture.  The Maijuna live in one of the most biologically rich places on earth and their ancestral lands are made up of almost 1,000,000-acres of primary rainforest (22% larger than Yosemite National Park).

The Peruvian Government wants to build a road directly through the heart of Maijuna lands, which the Maijuna are adamantly against.  The direct

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Use Goodsearch, Help RCF

By using goodsearch.com as your search engine, you raise 1 cent for each search you make.

It is super easy to sign up. Just go to goodsearch.com and select the get started prompt. Enter your name and email and then in the box where you provide your charity, write in Rainforest Conservation Fund. You will see RCF’s name come up, then select RCF, and you’re done!

Please use Goodsearch as your daily search engine, and ask your friends to do the same … and make sure they select RCF of Chicago. Helping preserve rainforest just takes a click!

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Corruption in Peru Aids Cutting of Rain Forest

“Even when he managed to seize trucks, chain saws or illegally harvested trees, judges would often force him to give them back, he said. Bribes were so common, he said, that one anticorruption official openly encouraged him to take them.

“The power of the logging industry here is very strong,” Mr. Berrospi said. “The corruption is terrible.”

Read the whole article at New York Times…

Continue reading Corruption in Peru Aids Cutting of Rain Forest

RCF project in Tanzania: Conserving and restoring an endemic-rich African cloud forest

In April, 2010, RCF added a new project to our rainforest conservation efforts, located near and around the Amani Nature Reserve, in surrounding forest fragments and farmland of the East Usambara Mountains of Tanzania.

Led by RCF Advisor to the Board Dr. Norbert Cordeiro (Roosevelt University, Chicago) and Dr. Henry Ndangalasi (University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), the project works with local residents from 3 villages to conserve and restore the threatened cloud forests and the biocultural diversity of the area.

Dr. Henry Ndangalasi (left) and villagers processing seeds and seedlings in the screenhouse at Emau Hill, Amani.

The main component of the

Continue reading RCF project in Tanzania: Conserving and restoring an endemic-rich African cloud forest

New Maijuna Protected Area in the News!

The Regional Government of the Peruvian Amazon has just recently signed off on the Maijuna Regional Conservation Area.  The Maijuna, with RCF’s help, have been fighting for this for the past 6 years and this is an incredible accomplishment.  The area protects 390,000 hectares (almost 1,000,000 acres!) of Maijuna ancestral lands.  RCF was in Maijuna lands for the declaration ceremony and it was an incredibly empowering moment for the Maijuna and very important for their future generations.

This important event was documented with many news stories, including a story in the longest running newspaper in Peru, El Comercio, and the article can

Continue reading New Maijuna Protected Area in the News!