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Our Strategies: How We Do It

We believe that the survival of the forest depends on the fate of its guardians. We protect both.

For a forest to survive and thrive, it needs biological diversity, clean and abundant water, and large stretches of connected lands. For the guardians to be healthy, they need not only basic things such as food, water, and medicine, but also security and stability. Self-determination and strong traditional cultures allow forest people to flourish and protect their lands.

Our efforts begin in the field. We ask our partners what they want, what they need, and what they envision for their future. They identify which lands are most important to them, and they tell us what they need to protect them. From these discussions, we develop strategic courses of action - what we call initiatives - that lead us together towards our goals.



Livelihoods: Sustain the Lives of Local People

Livelihoods Initiatives

Our Livelihoods initiatives focus on the economic stability of our partner communities, to help them remain on their lands. This is especially important in areas where conflict or deforestation have left people unable to acquire basic necessities from their territories. Financial security is critical to families, as are clean water, good nutrition, medicines, and energy. We develop non-destructive methods of forest harvesting and subsistence agriculture. We create income-generating projects that are sustainable and gentle on the environment.

Livelihoods: The Generous Forest

As western consumer goods infiltrate even the most remote forests, communities that once thrived without money now need ways to pay for their conveniences. Jobs in gold mining or other destructive industries lure young men away from their villages. In many cases, women must fend alone for their families.

Our new strategy of Livelihoods was developed in part to find sustainable sources of cash income that will strengthen local economies and protect the forest. Together with our partners, we are exploring the crafting and marketing of new forest products in a variety of pilot projects.


  • Colombia:

    members of communities along the Caquetá River cultivate cacay trees that produce high-value oils for the international cosmetics market.

  • Suriname:

    indigenous and Matawai communities make handicrafts, and grow and market unique ground peppers, herbal teas, and wild honeys for sale in the city.

  • Brazil:

    the women of Ulupuene process farinha, a staple starch in the Amazon, for sale in local markets.