Rainforests are some of the richest places for wildlife on Earth – but they are being felled without mercy.

Do you remember the first time you read, or heard someone say, "save the rainforests"?

For me, it was as a teenager, a few decades ago now. It was obvious then, as it is now, that chopping down the most vital wildlife habitat on land for short-term financial gain was a selfish and barbaric act. There were marches, and there were appeals, pamphlets and posters, distressing films of apes fleeing burning forests.
But did the destruction stop?

No. And it continues today. Every year around the world, 130,000 square kilometres of rainforest, home to 70% of land-based life, are lost to logging and agricultural expansion.

BUT, something has changed in the fight to save rainforests since I was a teenager, and I'm proud to say that I've played a role in bringing this about.

Harapan Rainforest, Sumatra.

photo of a Sumatran gibbon

The gibbons start singing at 5 am in Harapan Rainforest. A family of them lives right by the camp. They're a constant reminder of why we're here. They spend their lives in the canopy, but in large areas of the forest, the canopy is gone.

We need your help to support our tree nurseries. The next step for us in Harapan Rainforest is to restore 4,000 hectares of rainforest, creating a corridor of lush vegetation to link two of the healthiest areas of forest.

We work with local villagers and the indigenous Bathin Sembilan people to grow the trees from seedlings, right here at basecamp and in their villages – trees such as the belian, which can grow 50 metres high and live for more than a thousand years, and support a dazzling myriad of wildlife.

Gola Rainforest,
Sierra Leone

photo of Sierra Leone woman

Your £300 could help support community development projects.

This is Sierra Leone's most ambitious conservation programme ever. The work to protect the forest was brought to a halt for six years when a civil conflict engulfed the country, but since the war ended in 2002, the country has taken great steps forward. The Gola Rainforest has now become the country's first Rainforest National Park, home to forest elephants, chimpanzees, and charismatic birds such as rufous fishing owls and picathartes, found only in West African forests. We've been involved here with our BirdLife Partner, the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, and the Sierra Leone Forestry Division for 20 years, but there is still much to be done.

As with Echuya Forest, the way to save this forest is to work with the local communities, helping them understand the value of the forest and empowering them to become its custodians. As a pioneer, you could help support community development projects to rebuild schools and bridges, fix water supplies, build clinics and establish sustainable livelihoods in the forest.

Echuya Forest, Uganda

photo of echuya forest, uganda

Help local people find alternative livelihoods.
Your £300 could help the batwa people learn to live sustainably in echuya forest.

Echuya Forest in Uganda lies in the Albertine Rift valley, the most important endemic-rich region in Africa, but it is being destroyed by pressure from the rapidly increasing local population.

The local Bafumbira and Bachiga people, and the Batwa Pygmies – the original inhabitants of the forest, depend on it for survival: bushmeat for food, firewood for fuel and bamboo for construction. But the forest's value to wildlife is being eroded daily.

Working with our BirdLife Partner, NatureUganda, we are tackling the problem by working with the local people:

Getting the community involved in the conservation work. If they can see the benefits of the forest and its wildlife, they will take responsibility for it.

Helping set up sustainable businesses for them outside of the forest – tree nurseries, bamboo growing and bee keeping, for example.

Improving their livelihoods – teaching local people skills, such as growing passion fruit and avocados, which they can then sell for a healthy income.

The project is already underway, and beginning to enjoy success, but it cannot continue without support.

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Become a Rainforest Pioneer from £300

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Photo of an RSPB pioneer

Help plant trees to restore Harapan Rainforest.
Your £300 could buy 150 trees.