LATIN AMERICAN BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION
The Overbrook Foundation recognizes the value of protecting endangered biodiversity and the vital environmental and social benefits it provides. The Biodiversity Conservation program area supports programs in Latin America, with a specific focus on Mesoamerica, where globally important species and ecosystems face a wide range of threats. The Foundation seeks out projects that create practical solutions to these threats, particularly those that promote sustainable livelihoods and engage local communities in conservation efforts.
Below are the Foundation’s 2018 grantees through its Biodiversity Conservation portfolio.
General Operating Support - $30,000 (first payment in a three-year grant)
The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting South American rainforests through the empowerment of indigenous peoples and other local communities. Through its work in Colombia, Suriname and Brazil, ACT hopes to create an Amazon region of thriving biological and cultural diversity, conserved in perpetuity by local peoples able to utilize the best of traditional and western knowledge to protect their ancestral lands.
Promoting the Development of an Innovative Community Forest Model for Biodiversity Conservation of the Mayan, Biosphere Reserve, Guatemala - $40,000
The Association of Forest Communities of Petén (ACOFOP) was founded in 1995 to conserve biodiversity and prevent deforestation in the Mayan Biosphere, Guatemala by promoting sustainable livelihoods. The Mayan Biosphere Reserve is Mesoamerica’s largest protected area and located within the heart of the tri-national “Maya Forest” shared with Belize and Mexico. To date, ACOFOP represents 24 community organizations and nine community forest concessions, representing about 14,000 individuals overall.
Protecting the Sacred Headwaters of the Amazon Basin - $50,000 (second payment in a two-year grant)
For more than two decades, Amazon Watch has worked with indigenous organizations in Ecuador and Peru to increase the capacity of indigenous peoples to protect their ancestral rainforest territories and traditional livelihoods. The organization’s work centers around three priorities: stop Amazon destruction, advance indigenous-led solutions, and support climate justice. Crosscutting these priorities, the Sacred Headwaters Campaign is an ambitious plan to create “No-Go Zones” for extractive industries within the heart of Ecuador’s upper Amazon, one of the most biodiversity-rich places on Earth.
Environmental Defenders Collaborative — $85,000 (first payment in a two-year grant)
The Biodiversity Funders Group is a coalition of grantmakers working together to conserve and restore biodiversity. The Group seeks to achieve on-the-ground outcomes by fostering cooperative and collaborative grantmaking in specific issue areas. One such effort is the Environmental Defenders Collaborative, which brings together funders to support strategic actions to defend of environmental activists under threat around the world. The collaborative fund is guided by the framework “Protect, Prevent, Reveal, Redress” and supports groups that keep defenders safe, prevent the space for activists from shrinking further, shine a light on shadow states, and obtain justice for victims.
General Operating Support — $25,000
Located in the heart of Mexico, the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve is a natural protected area that covers a third of Querétaro state, one of the poorest regions of the country. Sierra Gorda is the seventh largest Reserve in Mexico and the most diverse in terms of ecosystems. In 1997, as the area was suffering from rapid deforestation, Groupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG) was established to protect the reserve. Over time, this grassroots initiative grew into a robust organization, recognized nationally and internationally. The Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda is constantly innovating and now manages a variety of conservation programs, ranging from a unique carbon registry to educational programs.
Cabo Pulmo – East Cape Collaborative Conservation Project - $40,000
Legacy Philanthropy Works (LPW) is a small California-based nonprofit organization that works to cultivate, collaborate, mobilize resources, and advance conservation and community initiatives. In Cabo Pulmo National Park, LPW is working to expand the national park and secure additional protected zones. Expanding the park and securing a protected zone around it is an imperative to protecting this unique coastal/marine region from increasing development pressures.
Mongabay: Latin America – Mongabay Latam - $75,000 (first payment in a three-year grant)
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 and has firmly established itself as a go-to site for broad and deep coverage of under-reported conservation issues in Latin America.
Mongabay has launched Mongabay-Latam to support the production of impactful Spanish language conservation news reporting focused on Central and South American forests, including their land use management, the transparency of commodity supply chain, and innovations in conservation technology.
Conserving Biodiveristy-Rich Landscapes in the Maya Biosphere Reserve by Strengthening the Social and Business Sustainability of Community Forestry -- $70,000 (first payment in a two-year grant)
Founded in 1987, the Rainforest Alliance (RA) works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behavior. At the heart of the organization’s approach is the understanding that the health of the land is inextricably connected to the wellbeing of those who depend on it for their livelihoods. In Guatemala, the Rainforest Alliance works with community-based groups, local partners, and government entities to reduce deforestation trends in the Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR). The MBR is a globally important biodiversity and cultural heritage site and the largest protected area in Central America. Over the years, the Rainforest Alliance has worked in the MBR to develop and grow businesses that support communities and reduce the incentives for deforestation.
Helping Smallholder Farmers Adapt to Climate Change - $50,000 (first payment in a two-year grant)
Root Capital, based in Massachusetts, is a nonprofit social investment fund that grows rural prosperity in poor, environmentally vulnerable places by lending capital, delivering financial training, and strengthening market connections for small and growing businesses. The project that Overbrook supports will promote the resilience of over 12,000 smallholder coffee families by providing loans and management training to 15 farmer cooperatives in the Guatemalan Highlands.
Toledo Institute for Development and Environment
Enhancing Community Engagement in the Sustainable Management of Marine Resources that they Depend on for their Livelihoods in the Payne’s Creek National Park, Belize Central America - $35,000
The Toledo Institute of Development and Environment (TIDE) is a leading conservation organization with 18 employees in the Toledo District of Southern Belize. TIDE manages a portfolio of national and private protected areas and aims to manage these natural resources sustainably. TIDE works in three program areas: natural resource management, environmental education and sustainable development, and financial sustainability. This project focuses on natural resource management, environmental education, and communications and has the ultimate goal of conserving biodiversity in Port Honduras and Payne’s Creek National Park.
Proactively Addressing Emerging Threats to Mesoamerica’s Forests and Wildlife -- $100,000 (first payment in a two-year grant)
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has a deep history of working in Central America and, specifically, with communities in the biodiversity-rich and endangered Maya Biosphere reserve. The WCS team focuses its efforts on trying to restore and resolve thorny issues with community members living in the San Miguel forest concession in Guatemala. WCS staff recognize both the difficulty and importance of working with communities as a last chance effort to conserve this area. The organization is using Conservation Agreements, a form of payment to landowners in exchange for not cutting their trees, as one of several methodologies to help get this once pristine area back on a conservation track.
Strengthening Protected Areas Management through Innovative Technology and Community Participation for Long-Term Conservation within the Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve, Belize - $40,000
Ya’axché Conservation Trust is a Belizean conservation organization whose mission is to maintain a healthy environment and empowered communities. Ya’axché works to foster sustainable livelihoods, protected area management, biodiversity conservation, and environmental education within the Maya Golden Landscape in southern Belize.
Ya'axché's Protected Area Management program focuses on ensuring effective and efficient management of three protected areas by utilizing high quality scientific data to increase organizational, local, and national cooperation.