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 Mesoamerica. Within these areas, there is a special emphasis on projects that engage local communities and promote sustainable livelihoods.

Below are the Foundation’s 2015 grantees through its biodiversity portfolio.

Amazon Watch

Sacred Headwaters Campaign - $50,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)

The Sacred Headwaters Campaign seeks to create a No-Go Zone for extractive industries within the heart of Ecuador’s upper Amazon, where multiple indigenous peoples rely on the fragile balance of these ecosystems and where scientists have recorded some of the highest rates of biodiversity on Earth. The overarching vision of this campaign is for the rainforests of the Napo-Marañon to be protected as a globally significant eco-region. The goal is to gradually form a mosaic of mostly indigenous titled lands and protected areas that are off-limits to industrial scale resource extraction. The Sacred Headwaters campaign aims to support the formation of an indigenous alliance at the level of the Napo-Marañon watershed to strengthen indigenous peoples’ capacity to recuperate, legalize, govern and protect their sacred ancestral territories.


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

Earthworks 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

General Operating Support - $55,000

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a Washington D.C.-based independent campaigning organization committed to bringing out change that protects the natural world from environmental crime and abuse. EIA pioneered the use of undercover investigative techniques to expose environmental crime and other abuse against the natural world. The organization uses its unique evidence and advocacy expertise to campaign for solutions to illegal logging and associated wood trade, illegal wildlife trade, and other threats to the global environment such as climate change. Environmental Investigation Agency also identifies shortcomings in national and international laws, as well as in corporate natural resource sourcing and consumption habits, to develop dynamic strategies to successfully advocate new or improved policies, implementation and enforcement measures. In 2015, the organization’s objectives are to improve forest governance via tools such as the U.S. Lacey Act; support the Wildlife in Crisis efforts on stopping the illegal and unsustainable killing of, and trade in, threatened species including elephants, rhinos, and cetaceans; and to accelerate the phase-out of industrial global warming agents.

Fundación Cordillera Tropical

Threat Detection and Habitat Conservation in Ecuador's Sangay National Park - $35,000

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 2016, FCT will use spatial analysis to capture the evolution of land use change that threatens ecosystem integrity. Using this information, FCT will assist Sangay National park officials in the creation of a tangible action plan for patrol and enforcement. FCT will also create new or expanded incentives for conservation on highly-threatened private and communal lands, based on 10 years of expertise in the design & development of similar programs. Lastly, FCT will demarcate Sangay National Park boundaries in vulnerable areas surrounding hydroelectric development projects.

Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda I.A.P.

Strategies for replication to conserve the bio-capacity of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve - $25,000

Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda I.A.P., a Mexican-based grassroots conservation organization founded in 1987, works to protect biodiversity and support local communities. The organization worked to create the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve in 1997, and it remains the only federal reserve managed by civil society, operating a model of participatory conservation in one of Mexico’s most eco-diverse but poverty-stricken regions.

Grupo Sierra Gorda has achieved important social participation, innovative experiences, tools and
capacities, to scale up its impacts not only in the Sierra Gorda, but at a national level. All its lines of
action have been recognized nationally and internationally. Grupo Sierra Gorda is a certified Savory Hub (part of a network of training and implementation support programs for farmers and land managers) in the center of Mexico and coordinates a joint effort with other hubs in the north of the country in Sonora and Coahuila states.

Among other conservation activities, Grupo Sierra Gorda is promoting a mechanism for managing
carbon offsets, unique in Mexico. Through this effort the organization is supporting key conservation projects and supporting the local owners of the forests throughout the reserve.


Mongabay: Latin America - $75,000

California-based Mongabay was founded in 1999 to increase interest in wildlife and biodiversity conservation. With now over two million readers per month, Mongabay has become one of the world's most popular environmental news sources. It has expanded from a small website run by its founder, Rhett Butler, to a staffed project with a nonprofit arm, Mongabay.org, as well as an array of other programs including K-8 education, an environmental reporting prize, and non-English environmental news reporting and translation. In 2015, Mongabay continues to expand the global reach of its reporting initiatives, with a focus on telling stories of Latin American biodiversity conservation through the voices of native Spanish-speaking reporters.

Nature & Culture International

Expanding Ecuador’s Ecosystem Service Payment Program within Ecuador and to Neighboring Countries - $40,000

Nature and Culture International (NCI) is an international nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1997 with the mission of conserving biologically diverse ecosystems, in concert with local peoples in Latin America. NCI has played the central role in the concrete protection of 13 million acres of rainforest and other imperiled tropical forest ecosystems by assisting local and indigenous communities, and national and regional governments, in establishing parks and reserves in order to achieve their ecosystem conservation goals. NCI- Ecuador signed an agreement with the Ecuadorian government last year to help expand the Socio Bosque program over the coming years to conserve up to a million additional acres of critical forest land in Ecuador. In 2015, NCI-Ecuador proposes to identify an additional 200,000 acres of land in the Amazon and Andes under this same agreement with Ecuador’s government.

Pronatura Noroeste A.C.

Installation of a Nature Center for the Cabo Pulmo National Park - $50,000

Pronatura Noroeste A.C., founded in 1991, works to conserve flora, fauna, and endangered ecosystems in northwest Mexico. Pronatura Noroeste manages eleven regional programs that cover most of the priority sites in northwest Mexico, including Cabo Pulmo (CP).

Cabo Pulmo is located in the southeast corner of the Baja California Peninsula, and was designated as a National Park in June 1995. The whole region, which includes the world-class Los Cabos tourist
destination, is subject to intense coastal development, representing a serious threat to the coral reef, the surrounding terrestrial ecosystem, and the local community economic activities, which are based mostly on ecotourism. To address this situation, a coalition of non-governmental organizations has joined efforts to implement diverse activities aimed to preserve this unique marine environment. As part of that strategy, for the past for years Pronatura Noroeste has worked to strengthen and expand the opportunities for conservation and sustainable development of this region, by improving public
conservation policies and increasing the capacity of the Cabo Pulmo National Park and the local
community to protect the regional biodiversity. Continuing these efforts, Pronatura Noroeste’s 2016 work plan’s prime objective is to complete the installation of the basic nature interpretation center designed in 2014 for the Cabo Pulmo community and national park.

Rainforest Action Network

General Operating Support - $40,000

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is an environmental and human rights organization that believes individuals and communities can confront corporate power together. RAN challenges corporations to stop destructive operations, protect human rights, and adopt comprehensive policies to reduce their contributions to climate change. RAN’s Tropical Forests and Climate & Energy Programs work together to fundamentally change the relationship between the global marketplace and the natural world. It takes leadership from and builds good faith working partnerships with grassroots and indigenous movements and is currently developing an organization-wide racial justice lens.

Root Capital

General Operating Support for activities in Ecuador, Mexico, and Nicaragua - $55,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)

Root Capital, a Boston-based nonprofit social investment fund, grows rural prosperity in poor, environmentally vulnerable places in Africa and Latin America by lending capital, delivering financial training and strengthening market connections for small and growing businesses. Root Capital clients include associations and private businesses that help create sustainable livelihoods by aggregating the products of hundreds, and often, thousands of farmers. As of third quarter 2014, Root Capital has disbursed more than $743 million in credit to 533 businesses. These loans have helped Root Capital clients improve incomes for more than 850,000 individuals and sustainably manage 1.5 million hectares of land.

Sustainable Agriculture Network

General Operating Support - $60,000

The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) is a coalition of conservation organizations founded in 1997 that promotes productive agriculture, biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods by creating and helping farmers implement social and environmental best practice standards. These standards are applicable to agricultural farms in over 100 tropical crops. Farms that comply with the standards are able to use the Rainforest Alliance™ seal on their products and benefit from the market advantages associated with the seal. The overarching goal of SAN is to strengthen its member organizations so that they are better able to support farmers in the implementation of sustainable agriculture best practices.

Wildlife Conservation Society

Addressing Wildlife Trafficking at Multiple Scales: Ecuador and the Latin America Region - $50,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is a U.S. nonprofit organization established in 1895 that saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. The WCS Latin America and Caribbean Program has been working for over two decades to address wildlife trafficking in the region through on-the-ground monitoring programs, adoption and implementation of new technologies, and local advocacy campaigns. To address wildlife trafficking both through informed future governance and conservation science, WCS will continue to implement and expand important conservation actions in Yasuní National Park in Ecuador to protect Amazon river turtles while developing a more long-term and visionary conservation strategy for the species whose numbers have been declining at an alarming rate due to demand for turtle eggs resulting from human consumption.

Grantees by Year:   2015  |  2014  |  2013