Sometimes the simplest ways to protect the environment are also the most effective…
My girlfriend and I occasionally exchange donations to each other’s favourite charities in lieu of something shiny that would temporarily boost our self-esteem. This year my partner’s donation on my behalf went to the Rainforest Trust in order to help create the Lumbasumba Conservation Area in Nepal. $10 USD conserves 1 acre.
Granted, you don’t actually “own” the land. Acres purchased through such programs are used to expand a park or conservation area. The land is still owned by local government, with NGOs nearby, ensuring it’s managed sustainably.
Decreasing deforestation and habitat destruction through the establishment of conservation areas is such an effective way to combat climate change and species-loss that I wonder if such donation programs are receiving the focus they should. In a time where trusting government officials to combat climate change looks foolhardy, shouldn’t we be focusing on real, tangible actions we can take?
What’s Going On In Nepal?
The land my partner purchased for my birthday is in snow leopard and red panda habitat in Nepal. The world’s most illegally trafficked animal, pangolins, and their valuable-on-the-black-market scales, also rely on the area for habitat. Increased conservation measures would help reduce the amount of poaching they face.
In addition to the illegal wildlife trade, road construction threatens local species. In particular, a massive road connecting India and China has conservationists concerned. The Himalayan terrain is a hotspot for biodiversity, but decreased or fragmented habitat threatens this.
The area also represents an important carbon sink to help combat climate change. The more of those we lose, the less effective any plan to reduce emissions becomes.
Purchasing Land For Conservation= A Wonderful Concept!
Rainforest Trust are even looking into ways to pinpoint the exact acres conserved by individual donations as well, which would allow donors to pin the area on Google Earth. A donor could then start to keep a running tally of the areas across the planet hey have conserved over their lifetime. Sort of “conservation trophy case” that can be displayed on a smartphone.
In many areas, the charity is also able to provide ethical/sustainable tourism options in the case a donor wishes to get further involved.
In addition to the program in Nepal, Rainforest Trust is also working to protect the Atlantic Rainforest in Cameroon, biodiversity in Nantu (save the Sulawesi Babirusas!), the Amazon Rainforest in Peru, Ecuador & Columbia, the last forests of Northern Borneo, and more. They are quite busy.
Other Charities WIth Similar Programs
There are other charities which offer these kinds of donations, not just Rainforest Trust of course.
Other organizations offering “adopt-an-acre” programs include:
- The Nature Conservancy
- World Land Trust
- the Rainforest Alliance
- Local Conservation Authorities near you (possibly)
Clear Environmental Benefits = Happy Planet & Donors
The idea of a clear tangible act of environmental preservation involved with these programs is something I feel many environmental donors have been seeking in recent years. It can be frustrating to feel as though your donation gets thrown into the general operating fund of a charity which may, or may not, be accomplishing positive things. With this program however, there is no ambiguity, you donate X and it accomplishes Y.
This isn’t to say there aren’t fantastic charities operating out there who need funds in their general operating budget, only to say that as a donor, it’s nice to be able to make a gift that yields a firm, tangible benefit.
Highest Rating Possible from Charity Navigator
The American-based charity-evaluator, Charity Navigator, has been reviewing and evaluating charities for 15 years. The organization rates charities based on how efficiently they are able to use donations, as well as their transparency and commitment to ethical governance.
Not surprisingly, Rainforest Trust has a perfect rating on Charity Navigator, scoring 100 out of 100.
Take Action Environmentalists!
These programs provide an excellent action for budding environmental activists. Even a small fundraising event, one which only yields $100, becomes an effective environmental action with these programs, conserving 10 acres of rainforest.
University or PIRG environmental action groups have the ability to yield clear results from their work through these programs as well. Hold an event, pass around a hat, then use the money to conserve acres of rainforest.
High school students looking to get their community hours can also raise money to purchase acres. Being able to say you ran a program in your school that helped preserve acres of rainforest in a priority area, is something that would look impressive on resumes and University applications.
If you’d rather receive land donations for your birthday, mother’s day, father’s day, Madden 18 day (real thing), then post this article through your social media accounts and see which one of your friends or family members remember.