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.