The Simple Model That Works

Written by: Callie

Posted on May 21, 2014

Kayants Village small

Seven years ago Cool Earth was launched as a reaction to a simple observation. The environmental movement had been saving the rainforest for forty years but half had disappeared.

“Save the rainforest” has become one of the most well worn slogans but it also seemed to sum up the futility of conservation. It was a “motherhood and apple pie” cause that is so universally supported that it was as if we all thought someone else would sort it out.

The fact that climate change made the role of tropical forests even more critical to our species’ survival seemed only to make matters worse. The interest of the United Nations and World Bank seemed to prove that this was too big a job for politicians.

And in actual fact, this is probably true. The decisions that decide whether forest is cleared or kept aren’t made in national parliaments or even environment ministries and departments of planning.

Nine times out of ten, they are made on a dirt track or a riverbank between a village and an illegal logger. And you can be sure that it isn’t a long or balanced negotiation. It’s a rushed promise of hard cash that hopelessly undervalues the timber. But for villages in poverty and with virtually no other source of income, it is the only offer they will get.

These handshakes made every day along the arcs of deforestation from Papua New Guinea to the Amazon are why deforestation is too big an issue for the UN. They are why forty years of agreements, and laws, fences and reserves haven’t kept rainforest safe.

And they are why we set-up Cool Earth seven years ago this month.

If communities were selling off trees to loggers because they had no other way of buying rice or getting their children to school, surely the best way of saving rainforest is to provide an alternative.

If communities were selling off their forest as a last resort, surely we could build on the almost universal desire of people who depend on the rainforest for food and medicine to keep it safe.

And that is exactly what we have done. Cool Earth strikes Forest Protection Agreements with any community who approaches us that is serious about keeping their forest safe. We help build better livelihoods, more resilient communities, stronger legal claims so that the forest, its biodiversity and its carbon remain intact.

It’s a simple model that works.

In our first seven years, with the help of fantastic backers like The Fuel Card Group, we have ensured more than 400,000 acres of rainforest that would otherwise have been cleared is protected around the clock. These community controlled forests form a living shield to ten times as much forest.

As Sir David Attenborough says, Cool Earth is the best chance we have of saving the world’s rainforests

Cool Earth has three projects in Peru that are shielding the Western Amazon. We are now the biggest backer of community forest in the Congo and next year we will be launching a new project in Papua New Guinea. Both are difficult places to work and demand the ground-up approach that Cool Earth is pioneering.

All this is great news. But the even better news is that we have precisely 81 villages queuing up to turn their forest into a living shield for the Amazon, Congo and Papuan forests.

The Fuel Card Group’s support ensures Cool Earth can give a lifeline to these rainforest villages – making the biggest difference to the future of the world’s remaining rainforest.

To find out more about the problems facing the rainforest, and how 2Count and Cool Earth are helping to protect the rainforest and its local communities, please visit our website.