How much does it cost to protect an acre?

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.”