What is Protect an Acre?

Answer

RAN established the Protect-an-Acre program in 1993 to protect the world’s forests and support the rights of their inhabitants by providing small grants to traditionally under-funded organizations and communities in forest regions. PAA is a grassroots alternative to “buy-an-acre” programs that seek to provide rainforest protection by buying tracts of land, but which often fail to address the priorities or rights of local Indigenous peoples.

Traditional communities are found in most existing intact rainforest areas, and have lived off of the land for millennia. Areas that are uninhabited are essentially unprotected, even if acquired by a purchase program. It is not uncommon for loggers, oil companies, farmers, cattle ranchers or miners to invade regions rich in trees and minerals, even if they are supposedly “protected” by park status or land deeds. The Protect-an-Acre program, by supporting the efforts of traditional forest peoples, helps rainforest inhabitants gain recognition of their ancestral rights and traditional ways of life.

How much does it cost to protect an acre?

Answer

RAN doesn’t track dollar-per-acre amounts of the projects we support because of our holistic approach of supporting everything from capacity building workshops to direct action to travel funds that help amplify the voices of impacted community members. We prioritize supporting local resistance to destructive development activities where victories are difficult to secure, and are not always permanent, but have huge forest protection implications. The land title projects we support help communities gain legal control over their territory often for as little as $1 or 2 per acre, providing a critical tool for controlling local resources. Even legal title though can’t permanently eliminate threats from illegal activities or extractive industries, which must continue to be monitored and addressed on an ongoing basis.

However, we know that PAA grants support projects that have a big impact. Indigenous and frontline communities are fighting to protect millions of acres of forest and there are many studies that show that they are the most effective protectors of forests around the world. In a study published in Conservation Biology, researchers showed through an analysis of satellite data that many Indigenous lands prevent deforestation almost completely even though there are high rates of forest destruction directly outside their borders. The researchers conclude that Indigenous lands are the most important barrier to deforestation in the Amazon. Another recent study by Forest Trends found that forest communities and Indigenous peoples do a better job of conserving woodlands than national governments or international donors. According to study co-author Augusta Molnar, “local communities, including the Indigenous residents of tropical forests, are managing at least 900 million acres of forest so that biodiversity is protected. These documented forests cover more forest areas than are currently conserved in parks and protected areas.”

Why Protect an Acre and not Buy an Acre?

Answer

Protect-an-Acre was created as an alternative to programs in which non-residents purchase rainforest land. These “buy an acre” programs, while sometimes expanding protected areas, often fail to address the needs of local forest communities. Most programs do not take into account the fact that these communities already “own” and care for these lands that are being purchased from under them.

Traditional communities are found in most existing intact rainforest areas, and have lived off of the land for millennia. Areas that are uninhabited are essentially unprotected, even if acquired by a purchase program. It is not uncommon for loggers, oil companies, farmers, cattle ranchers or miners to invade regions rich in trees and minerals, even if they are supposedly “protected” by park status or land deeds. The Protect-an-Acre program, by supporting the efforts of traditional forest peoples, helps rainforest inhabitants gain recognition of their ancestral rights and traditional ways of life.

In What Countries does the Protect an Acre Program work?

Answer

Protect-an-Acre supports projects all over the world, wherever there are forests to be protected. The majority of PAA projects are in the Amazon in South America, the rainforests of Southeast Asia and West Africa and the Boreal Forest of Canada. We discourage donors from restricting donations to specific regions or countries so that RAN can be most responsive to funding the most urgent and strategic projects.

Is my donation tax deductable?

Answer

Donors receive a formal donation acknowledgement letter with RAN’s tax ID number and an attractive certificate of recognition thanking you for your contribution to our program and for your help supporting Indigenous and frontline community efforts to secure protection for millions of acres of traditional territory in forests around the world.

How much of my contribution will reach these groups?

Answer

A minimum of 90% of your PAA donation goes directly to supporting projects via our RAN Community Action Grants program. PAA grants are frequently small in nature due to the small size of the organizations funded, and they are frequently distributed to remote parts of the globe where financial transfer infrastructure is lacking. As a result some processing fees are unavoidable, however RAN is committed to making these as minimal as possible.