Latin American Biodiversity Conservation

The Biodiversity Program of the Overbrook Foundation supports programs in Latin America, with a specific geography of Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and, in certain cases, other parts of Meso-America. Within those areas, there is a special emphasis on projects that engage local communities and promote sustainable livelihoods.

Below is a list of the Foundation’s 2014 grantees through its biodiversity portfolio.

Protecting Ecosystems and Communities from Dirty Mining - $35,000

Earthworks, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the impacts of irresponsible mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions. Earthworks fulfills its mission by working with communities and grassroots groups to reform government policies, improve corporate practices, influence investment decisions and encourage responsible materials sourcing and consumption. Earthworks exposes the health, environmental, economic, social and cultural impacts of mining and energy extraction through work informed by sound science. It continues to help steer the “Initiative for Responsible Mining” (IRMA).

Environmental Investigation Agency
Improving Biodiversity Conservation in Latin America - $55,000

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) uses pioneering undercover investigations to expose environmental crimes and campaigns for solutions to illegal logging and associated wood trade, illegal wildlife trade and other threats to our global environment, including climate change. The organization also identifies shortcomings in national and international laws, as well as in corporate natural resource sourcing and consumption habits, and promotes enforcement of the Lacey Act, as it did in 2013 with the investigation of the illegal timber trade in Russia, China, and the U.S. In 2014, it will help oversee the Obama Administration’s recent ban on the commercial sale of ivory in the U.S.

Fundacion Cordillera Tropical
Incentivizing private land conservation and restoration in Sangay National Park, Ecuador – $35,000

The Founded in 2000, Fundación Cordillera Tropical (FCT) is a legally recognized Ecuadorian non-profit dedicated to empowering local communities to protect and sustainably manage their natural resources in the Ecuadorian Andes. FCT combines extensive field research, grassroots participation techniques, and conservation biology expertise in the implementation of programs that promote private land conservation and land owner education and training. In 2014-2014, FCT will help implement a new conservation program that engages private landowners in forest conservation and pasture restoration in the buffer zone of Sangay National Park. The program will promote habitat corridors, protect watersheds, and sequester carbon.

Valuation of the Extractive Production, as an Instrument for Consolidating Protected Areas in the Region of Terra do Meio / Pará – $45,000 (second payment of a two-year grant)

The Institute of Forest Management and Certification & Agriculture (Imaflora) is a nonprofit civil association, founded in Piracicaba, São Paulo in 1995. Its mission is to encourage changes in the forestry and agriculture sectors, and was born under the premise that the best way to conserve tropical forests is to give them a sustainable economic value, coupled with responsible management practices. With its “Valuation of the Extractive Production, as an Instrument for Consolidating Protected Areas in the Region of Terra do Meio / Pará,” Imaflora aims to provide market support to local farmers for selling their sustainably sourced products in the “Terra do Meio ” region. The project began in 2009 as a partnership with ISA (Instituto Socioambiental), and focused on three reserves: Resex Riozinho do Anfrísio, Rio Xingu, and Iriri, which together comprise 1.2 million hectares and have a population of about 120 families.
Support for the Special Reporting Initiatives Program (SRI) and an SRI on “Innovative Models for Biodiversity Conservation” – $50,000

Founded in 1999, Mongabay is a leading environmental web site with a special focus on tropical forests. In 2012 Mongabay launched its non-profit arm,, to facilitate in-depth reporting on key issues affecting forests and the communities that depend on them.’s Special Reporting Initiatives Program on “Innovation in Biodiversity Conservation” will enable a professional journalist to do a series of articles on a particular issue. The resulting articles will published on under an open Creative Commons license that allows for re-publishing elsewhere. SRIs planned for 2014-2015 include exploring the effects of Brazil’s crack down on
deforestation in adjacent areas and answer the question: Is Brazil’s success displacing deforestation to other Amazon countries? These projects will also enhance the journalist’s understanding of the topic, turning him or her into an issue-area expert.

Rainforest Action Network
Rainforest Agribusiness Campaign – $40,000

Rainforest Action Network’s (RAN) mission is to campaign on behalf of forests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life. The organization transforms the global marketplace through grassroots organizing, education and non-violent direct action. RAN directs hard-hitting, long-term campaigns that create lasting solutions by inspiring corporations to embrace a deeper commitment to environmental and social justice. It also places great emphasis on building grassroots movements that advocate for more responsible corporate behavior and leadership. By convincing key industry leaders such as Home Depot, Kinko’s, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and others to adopt environmental policies, Rainforest Action Network builds into its strategy a strong potential for replication among the industries most significantly impacting the planet. This year, one of its goals is to convince Cargill and other companies to adopt sustainable palm oil policies.

Root Capital
General Operating Support for activities in Ecuador, Mexico, and Nicaragua – $75,000 (second payment of a two-year grant)

Root Capital is a social investment fund that uses the tools of finance – including access to capital and financial management training – to support community-based enterprises that promote grassroots economic development and environmental stewardship in the developing world. It serves small and growing businesses (SGBs) rooted in rural, low-income communities in Latin America and Africa. These SGBs bring together hundreds and often thousands of farmers, creating sustainable livelihoods for them and their families. Root Capital plays an important role in unlocking SGBs’ potential to facilitate small-scale producers’ adoption of climate-smart practices that improve rural livelihoods and conserve natural resources. In Q1 and Q2 2013, Root Capital has disbursed more than $19 million in credit to 106 businesses.

The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice
Environmental Sustainability Program – $15,000

Founded in 2003, the Vance Center is part of the New York City Bar Association, and mobilizes the global legal profession to promote social justice, human rights and the rule of law. The Vance Center established the Environmental Sustainability Program in 2011 to provide a range of legal resources in support of environmental protection in Latin America. The Working Group engages environmental lawyers from international firms in New York City and Latin America, in consultation with environmental organizations focusing on the region, to identify systemic, cross-border challenges, and design and implement multi-pronged strategies for addressing them. Regulatory reform, collaborative advocacy and private-public partnership are strategies that succeeded in the United States, and now can start in Latin America, to promote remediation, conservation and conscientious stewardship.

Wildlife Conservation Society
Improving Rural Livelihoods through Natural Resource Conservation in the Pantanal of Brazil and Yasuni National Park, Ecuador – $50,000 (second payment of a two-year grant)
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. It does so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. In the Brazilian Pantanal and Cerrado and Ecuadorian Yasuní National Park, WCS works to design and implement economically productive activities that are sustainable, as well as conservation oriented. In the Pantanal, WCS works with local landowners and farm workers to adopt ranching systems that increase cattle productivity while reducing deforestation and conversion of natural grasslands.

Grantees by Year: 2014 / 2013 / 2012 / 2011