Make a Sustaining Impact this Earth Month with Amazon Conservation 

This year, Earth Day celebrates all the incredible resources that this beautiful planet provides us. We are taking Earth Day a few steps furtherand celebrating the greatest wild forest on the planet for the entire month of April! We encourage everyone to start taking action for nature and the Amazon this April, but we hope this will be just the start as our planet needs real impactful and urgent action each and every day.

This Earth Month, we are encouraging everyone to #InvestintheAmazon and all of the ecosystem services it provides to everyone from local communities in the Amazon to people all across the globe. From drinkable water and unmatched biodiversity to climate change mitigation and economic resources, the ecosystem services this forest provides are central for the health of the entire planet.

Here are a few ways you can start making your lasting impact this April and make a real difference beyond Earth Month:

  • Get a jumpstart on your commitment: Make an investment today!
  • Share why you support Amazon Conservation’s work for a thriving Amazon by tagging @amazonconservation and using #InvestIntheAmazon on social media.
  • But, most of all, ensure your impact is sustainable by signing up for our newly revamped Wild Keepers Monthly Giving Program.
    BONUS: All new Wild Keeper members in April will be entered in our Earth Month giveaway to win a special gift straight from the Amazon! Winner will be announced on May 5th via social media



Reforestation and Governance Protects Critical Water Sources For Local Communities

Apolo is the second largest municipality in the Bolivian department of La Paz and overlaps with nationally important protected areas, including the Madidi National Park (7,320 sq mi, 18,960 sq km) and Pilón Lajas Biosphere Reserve. Our sister organization on the ground in Bolivia has worked with this community since 2015 to protect critical water sources for local communities. This past month, Carlos De Ugarte, the Coordinator for Conservation Areas, presented a webinar with several highlights on the most recent phases of this incredible project, including the cultivation of 18,500 seedlings since 2016 and reforestation of over 3,000 trees.

Apolo has been highlighted by the Bolivian Ministry of Environment and local communities as a conservation priority due to the Paramarani mountain range located in its central region. Eight indigenous communities, including Apolo with its 6,000 inhabitants, depend on the Paramarani mountain range for their water supply, so protecting this area means preserving the environmental services this hydrological system provides. Thus, we implemented key conservation initiatives such as the reforestation of degraded areas, installation of protective fencing, training to combat forest fires, and the strengthening of local water committees.

To begin, local community partners and our team planted over 3,000 native plant species in the areas of concern, because reforestation helps increase the absorption of water to the ground which regenerates water sources and springs. Additionally, the presence of more plants reduces soil erosion as well as reduces contamination. Seedlings were cultivated in the Madidi National Park nursery, where we have raised nearly 18,500 seedlings since 2016. Between 2019 and 2020, over 1,000 species were planted around the Paramarani mountain range, and in 2021 over 2,000 were installed. This included reforestation with agave, which was carried out as a fire protection strategy because mature agave plants are notably tolerant to droughts.

Moreover, the team installed fences to protect water sources from pollution caused by humans and livestock and promote the natural regeneration of vegetation such as tree cover, shrubs, and grasslands. Protective fences were implemented around twelve water sources utilized by seven Paramarani communities, and around seven water sources used by six communities in the Altuncama mountain range. Organic farming was also promoted to protect water sources as the use of chemical products must be avoided as much as possible.

Lastly, our team assisted in governance strengthening initiatives, helping expand the Apolo Municipal Water Management Platform to ensure that this water management work is continued. In 2018, this coalition included eight out of the nine communities of Paramarani and the local government. In 2019, it expanded to include seven communities of Altuncama. The communities’ Statutes and Regulations of the Water Committees were also updated, and the team helped manage community requests made through the platform.

Efficient management of this protected area is extremely important to make sure critical water sources stay protected. This project has helped preserve an important hydrological system and its environmental services, supporting both the communities and wildlife that call the Paramarani mountain range home.



Ruthmery Pillco, Who Leads Our Andean Bear Conservation Project, Named Disney Conservation Hero

Ruthmery Pillco, who leads field activities for our Andean Bear Conservation Project, was recently announced as one of fifteen Disney Conservation Heroes, recognized for their efforts to protect the planet. She joins a diverse global community of indigenous conservationists protecting critically endangered and threatened species such as Grauer’s gorillas, golden lion tamarin monkeys, and leatherback sea turtles.

The Disney Conservation Fund awards grants annually to individuals and organizations working together to stabilize and increase the populations of at-risk species. Ruthmery’s work to protect the Andean bear in the Peruvian Amazon, which is categorized as vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, has earned her this distinction from Disney. During this project, she works with local communities to reforest areas for the Andean bear’s habitat and restore native plant species. She also leads a field team to identify and record information about the bears’ distribution and diet. Additionally in Costa Rica, her botanical expertise and project leadership enabled her team to help prevent the extinction of a rare and critically endangered plant species in the cinnamon family that has only been known to scientists since 1998. Her team carefully collected seeds from the only four mature plants found in the wild, propagated and planted them to grow the wild population of this species.

Ruthmery joins the latest cohort of 15 Disney Conservation Heroes across 13 countries who work with local communities to care for wildlife and their habitats, including those who protected their own land as nature reserves to individuals who found new ways to support wildlife while honoring cultural traditions.

“We know that behind each of these [conservation] efforts are dedicated individuals going above and beyond to ensure a world in balance,” writes Claire Martin on Disney’s blog, who helps manage the awards. “These Heroes have each taken risks, shown courage, and contributed to an inspiring global story of hope for the future.”

Read Disney’s full blog here.


International Women’s Day Highlight: Amy Rosenthal

This International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting a powerful woman who has helped advance the protection of the Amazon for many years within various roles at Amazon Conservation. Amy Rosenthal, who has worked directly with the organization and now helps guide the institutional vision as one of our board members, is a longtime environmental advocate and has experienced firsthand the changes and challenges within the field of environmental protection.

Amy’s interest in environmental conservation dates back to middle school, when she was doing science projects on the rainforest. She remembers showing her class, “old-school slides of pictures of the Amazon — the ones where you pop them into a round carousel.” Many years later, she finally had the opportunity to visit the Amazon in 2000. “To this day, I love the smell, the tastes, the colors, the element of surprise and wonder that’s with you everywhere in the Amazon. And I admire the people who know this place better than I ever will. They are the stewards and storytellers of the most magical place on our planet.”

During that trip, she remembers the majority of her mentors were men, as well as the researchers she worked with. “Things have changed a lot for women in fieldwork and conservation…As time went on, more of my colleagues were women, and I began to encounter more female mentors. Today, you’re more likely to run across women leaders in international fora and in our partner organizations and local community allies.” She believes that this change is due to a variety of drivers. “Early women leaders helped pave the way for others, as I found in my mentors; male mentors, like our founder, Adrian Forsyth, opened doors. More women were admitted to the sciences for their educational advancement, particularly in the fields of conservation science.”  Additionally, Amy commends how the work of conservation has changed, to becoming  deeply transdisciplinary, requiring project management and team-building, in addition to field biology. “All of these shifts seem to have brought in more women, which is wonderful to see and be a part of!”

Amy Rosenthal on a visit to our biological stations in 2007

Though there are more women now than ever working in the environmental field statistically, there is still progress to be made. In 2014, Dorceta E. Taylor published a report on the state of diversity in environmental organizations, finding that out of the 300 environmental institutions surveyed, men are still more likely than women to occupy the most powerful positions in environmental organizations. Additionally, there is still a low percentage of minorities on the boards of environmental organizations. Amy stresses the importance of diversity noting that, “Boards that have members from the same profession, socioeconomic background, or ethnicity are vulnerable to making poor decisions because they don’t reflect the diversity of thought, knowledge, and experience that the most important and difficult decisions require. An ideal board, which we’re working towards, would have members who can represent the worldviews, experiences, and local knowledge of the communities that Amazon Conservation works with. With that wisdom incorporated into our decision-making, we’ll be an even stronger board and the organization will have more meaningful, salient, and legitimate impact where we know the planet’s forests need it most.”

Photo by Amy Rosenthal

This all leads back to developing an efficient, effective, and holistic approach to strategically protecting the Amazon, which is a crucial wellspring for the world and for the local communities who live there. As one of the five great forests with significant biocultural diversity, there are still many species to discover that play a critical role in how ecosystems function. Amy notes that, “Fortunately, the world is more focused on protecting biodiversity and safeguarding our climate today than ever before…At the same time, there’s finally a recognition of the indispensable role Indigenous and local communities play in stewarding their lands, opening doors for direct support and nesting of traditional management and knowledge. And today’s technology gets us closer to real-time global biodiversity monitoring and conservation than ever before.” She concludes that, “Amazon Conservation is a pathbreaking leader in many of these spheres, informing policies, harnessing hi-tech solutions, and partnering with Indigenous organizations to ensure durable, holistic and equitable conservation of the Amazon. I am proud and honored to be a part of it!”