Saving What Remains


July 11, 2012

Today international conservation organizations serve as environmental consultants for governments and large corporations interested in reducing pollution, setting aside protected areas, and conserving biodiversity. Organizations like the International Conservation Union (IUCN), The Forest Trust, the Rainforest Alliance, Conservation International (CI), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) act as mediators between various development interests, policy makers, local peoples, scientists, and activist groups in promoting conservation. These organizations initiate and support a broad range of conservation-related activities, from arranging international conferences to establishing community-based conservation projects to maintaining parks and reserves. Keeping attuned to economic realities, they work to integrate the latest scientific findings into preservation efforts.

Activist Groups

Activist groups, like the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Amazon Watch, and Greenpeace are publicists and sponsors of rainforest preservation. They are watchdogs of projects that impact the rainforest, and they spread the the word to other organizations, peoples, and governments. They initiate campaigns against large corporations and governments responsible for deforestation and encourage consumers to boycott their products. Pressure against these companies from environmental organizations, coupled with boycotts, will often sway the firm to adopt more ecologically sound methods or abandon plans to clear forest lands for production. While critics argue that successful boycotts in the North only lead to trade diversion to markets that remain open, their campaigns draw public attention to deforestation and increase industry's sensitivity to rainforest issues.

Rainforest Funders

Outside of governments and the general public, substantial amounts of funding for rainforest conservation funding come from private foundations usually started by wealthy individuals. For example, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is perhaps the largest private funder of conservation in the Amazon rainforest.

Rainforest in Gunung Leuser National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Review questions:

  • Does pressure from activist groups work?

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Continued / Next: Indigenous Peoples' Role in Rainforest Conservation