Environmental Quality Protection, Beautification

RAINFOREST FOUNDATION INC

Securing Rights. Protecting Lands

aka Rainforest Foundation US   |   Brooklyn, NY   |  www.rainforestfoundation.org

Mission

The mission of the Rainforest Foundation is to support indigenous and traditional peoples of the world's rainforests in their efforts to protect their environment and fulfill their rights. We assist them in:

Securing and controlling the natural resources necessary for their long term well-being and managing these resources in ways that do not harm their environment, violate their culture or compromise their future; and

Developing the means to protect their individual and collective rights and to obtain, shape and control basic services from the state.

Ruling year info

1994

Executive Director

Ms. Suzanne Pelletier

Main address

P.O.Box 26908

Brooklyn, NY 11202 USA

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EIN

95-1622945

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Forest Conservation (C36)

Civil Rights, Advocacy for Specific Groups (R20)

International Human Rights (Q70)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Today, indigenous peoples make up just 5% of the global population, but live on, and protect, lands that support 80% of the Earth's plant and animal species; this is no accident. Yet indigenous people continue to be pushed off of their ancestral lands by agricultural interests, mining, oil exploration or by loggers eager to exploit the last stands of old-growth forest.

The world's rainforests are at risk; once 16% of the land was covered in forests, today the number stands at less than 3%. Without our rainforests, climate change will be largely unchecked, and we will lose most of planet's remaining biodiversity. By ensuring indigenous peoples' land rights, we do more than uphold human rights we protect our planet.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

General Program Focus

The RF-US has three major regional programs: Panama; Peru; and Guyana. Each of these programs provides a mix of funding, technical support, and advocacy for Indigenous communities and a network of grassroots partner organizations. All projects support land rights, natural resource management, and capacity building, and seek to contribute to stronger organizations and policies on the ground.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous people

We are protecting the rainforests on Peru's northern border. These are some of the most biodiverse and pristine rainforests in Peru; however, they face increased threats from drug trafficking, illegal logging and mining. We are forming a corridor of over 30 indigenous communities fighting against deforestation by training indigenous monitors in each community to use GPS systems, smart phones and othe rmapping technologies, as well as strengthening any monitoring programs they already have in place. Communities will be able to take action to prevent or mitigate ongoing threats to their rainforests. Each community then selects the best way to address each threat they identify--by, for example, forming community-led interventions or notifying national environmental prosecutors.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous people

In 2008, Panama passed Law 72, allowing indigenous groups to claim collective lands, which had long been a demand of the indigenous movement. In 2012, two Wounaan communities gained formal recognition of their lands through this new law. Together with the Wounaan and Embera, we’re now pushing for the remaining 20+ collective lands in the Darien to obtain titles, and for these communities to sustainably manage their lands. We see this as a critical opportunity for advancing indigenous rights, as well as environmental protection in the biologically important Darién region.

Over the next few years, RF-US will be working with the Embera and Wounaan to gain recognition of all of the remaining communities that still need titles in the Darién. As they gain titles, we’ll also be working with them to establish participatory land management plans, so they can sustainably manage their lands into the future. All of these efforts are underpinned by community and organizational capacity building. As a result, we hope to secure nearly 1 million acres of tropical forest, to be owned and managed by the Embera and Wounaan, who call the area home. This program is supported by the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, the Rainforest Fund, and the Climate and Land Use Alliance.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous people

Indigenous communities that make up the majority of the population in Guyana’s rainforest. By enhancing their capacity and active engagement, we can influence Guyanese decision makers with authority over issues related to land tenure, forest management and climate change financing.

The program focuses on bringing together an independent alliance of civil society and indigenous peoples’ organizations, in order to collectively advocate for inclusion of stronger safeguards for rights and more effective participation. In addition, we research and publicly disseminate updated information from the field, which can be used by government and international agencies in shaping climate change and rainforest protection programs. We also provide communities with basic tools and know-how to participate in decisions relating to climate change and rainforest protection. Finally, we provide information and training on issues of sustainable livelihood and relevant technology projects.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous people
Adolescents (13-19 years)

Where we work

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

We protect both the incredibly rich biological diversity of the rainforest and the cultural integrity of the peoples whose lives and livelihoods are inextricably linked to those forests.

*Protecting Lands: We support indigenous leaders as they assert their rights with local & national policy makers.We provide indigenous peoples & local NGOs with the legal and technical support necessary to analyze programs and policies that affect their communities & define their priorities. We share information about climate change science, indigenous rights & international policy. <br/><br/>*Influencing Policy: We partner with indigenous communities to help them obtain legal rights to their ancestral lands. We train communities to use technology to protect the rainforest for future generations. We provide legal & technical support, including: mapping & documenting land claims. We train leaders to navigate administrative and legal procedures & negotiate effectively with government officials.<br/><br/>*Strengthening Leadership: We develop and implement customized community training strategies, workshops, and tools, ensuring that communities are administratively and financially prepared to manage successful social and economic development projects. We aid communities in formalizing their traditional governance practices to ensure they are respected by the State.

There was a time when environmental organizations didn't focus on Human Rights. In fact, people were frequently seen as part of the problem. But Sting and Trudie Styler listened to the Kayapo, an Indigenous community living deep in the Brazilian Amazon and decided put their might behind the Indigenous defenders that were fighting to protect their rainforest lands just as they always had. <br/><br/>Today the Rainforest Foundation has almost 30 years of experience partnering with Indigenous communities, giving us a track record of protecting the rainforest and partnering with Indigenous communities that no other NGO can match.<br/><br/>We work as partners with Indigenous communities, building long term partnerships ensuring that: communities' land rights are recognized and our rainforests are protected.

Helping Indigenous communities protect their lands isn't just the right thing to do-- It works! <br/><br/>The latest satellite images and drone footage prove this wasn't just ethical, it was by far the best strategy. Today, we know that rainforests protected by Indigenous communities have the lower rates of deforestation than any other forests in the world including national parks, nature preserves, government land, and private sanctuaries.<br/><br/>We primarily measure our success by:<br/>•Lands titled or otherwise demarcated as under control by Indigenous communities<br/>• Proposals and policy recommendations for and by our Indigenous partners that are addressed by the government.<br/>• Government statements and commitments on land tenure security and forest protection.<br/>• Recommendations of international human rights bodies provided to governments regarding forest and climate schemes.<br/>• Extent to which forest and climate policies, laws and programs protect Rainforest and respect human rights.

We have helped protect 28 million acres of rainforest by securing long term rights to these lands to indigenous communities in rainforest countries around world.<br/><br/>We are working to protect the rainforest with Indigenous partners in Panama, Peru, Guyana and Brazil. For example, in 2017 we began protecting a vast corridor of rainforest in Northern Peru comprised of over 30 different communities committed to guarding and protect their forests from illegal loggers, drug traffickers and mining on their lands.

Financials

RAINFOREST FOUNDATION INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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RAINFOREST FOUNDATION INC

Board of directors
as of 9/10/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

John Copeland

Wealth Partners Capital Group

Term: 2015 -

S. Todd Crider

Partner, Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

John Copeland

President, AMG Wealth Partners, LLP

Robert Curran

Independent Photographer

Brett Odom

Compliance Officer, Kingdon Capital Management, LLC

Jenny Springer

Director, Equator Group and Chair, IUCN CEESP Theme on Governance, Equity and Rights

Christian Lelong

Senior Commodity Analyst, Goldman Sachs

Lars von Bennigsen

Becky Yang

Community Director, Summit Series

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Keywords

indigenous rights, human rights, rainforest protection, environment, climate change