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.