Forests play a critical role in addressing climate change because they soak up carbon dioxide. Forests also provide habitats for millions of animal species, including many of the most threatened and endangered animals. Forest also provide food, water and other benefits to hundreds of millions of people around the world.
For all these reasons, deforestation is a significant threat to the health of the environment.
In the second episode of Years of Living Dangerously, a documentary series on climate change, focuses on stories of deforestation, particularly in Indonesia. The support for Years of Living Dangerously being provided by Vulcan Productions as well as Paul G. Allen and Jody Allen is another example of their efforts to mitigate deforestation around the world.
In 2011, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation gave a $350,000 grant to the Amazon Conservation Association which they used to purchase and preserve over 476,000 acres of the Amazonian forest.
Manu National Park in Peru spreads for over 4 million acres (roughly the size of Massachusetts) from the Andean foothills into lush Amazonian lowlands. The park is home to a large variety of plant and animal species and is often noted as the most biologically diverse national park on Earth. Research shows that more than 1,000 species of birds reside in the park (more than 10% of Earth’s total bird population) with new species still being found. More than 200 mammal species are present, at least 13 of which are endangered, including ocelot, black caiman, and giant otter.
Grant funding enabled the Amazon Conservation Association to help protect the biodiversity of Manu by connecting ecologically very sensitive, yet discontinuous tracts of land bordering the park. The grant project will expand the buffer region surrounding this fragile ecosystem and reduce the number and extent of threats to the park. The greatest threat stems from illegal wildlife poaching and logging. In addition, fires set by communities who use the highland areas for cattle pasture have caused severe damage to the interior of the Park. The park’s annual protection budget of $150,000 is greatly inadequate to meet these threats.
In North America, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has provided tens of millions of dollars through more than 50 grants to preserve forests, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. One of the key goals has been to preserve and maintain forest areas that serve as wildlife habitat corridors. These grants started more than 20 years ago and have kept the Cascade mountains from being broken into separate ecosystems.