RCF is sometimes asked: why don’t we just purchase tropical rainforest in Peru outright? On the face of it, this sounds like a great idea. And in some instances, in some areas of the world, it works. But as it turns out, purchasing large tracts of land for conservation in Peru is legally as well as financially unfeasible–and actually protecting a private reserve the size of the Reserva Comunal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo (RCTT), where RCF carries out its projects, would be impossible. Unfortunately, nothing is as simple as it seems.
Most of the rainforest in Peru is owned by the Peruvian government, and it isn’t interested in selling. But let’s pretend it were. Let’s say we could buy land at the very cheap price of $25 an acre. To buy outright a tract of land the size of the RCTT (800,000 acres) would cost more than $20 million.
And of course, mere ownership does not protect land. Who is going to protect it? Not the government. Having sold the land, it would have no incentive to sink scarce public money into protecting someone else’s land. As it is, the Peruvian government cannot afford to protect its own parks and reserves adequately.
How about hiring private guards? The perimeter of the reserve is about 100 miles long. That’s a lot of guards–and millions more dollars that we don’t have. And even if we had unlimited money to hire our own virtual army, private guards would not have the legal authority to turn poachers, polluters and loggers away.
That’s why we work differently to preserve the RCTT in Peru. We work with the government to pass laws which designate large tracts of rainforest as Protected Areas – areas which the country’s own laws authorize the government to keep free of poachers, polluters and loggers. And then we work with the local people as well as the government to enforce Peru’s laws to “really” protect the land. It’s the most efficient possible use of conservation dollars in Peru. We hope you’ll help us continue to do so.