Israel NGO Buys Chunk Of Amazon Jungle To Protect Wildlife

By Yona Schnitzer/TPS

An Israeli NGO – This is My Earth (TiME) is set to purchase 7,000 square meters of wild jungle lands in the Peruvian Amazon, in order to protect local endangered wildlife.

Founded in 2014, TiME is an international environmental-conservation organization with a large emphasis on democratic involvement. TiME crowdfunds in order to purchase lands for conservation and the organization says that members of the worldwide general public can join “according to their ability” – starting with a dollar as a membership fee. All members have an equal voice, regardless of their donation level, in selecting the next critical habitat to be purchased.

The habitats are voted on out of a list of three final candidates, which are nominated by communities around the world and approved by an international scientific board according to their ecological significance, with an emphasis on biodiversity. The land selected is then purchased by TiME’s volunteer affiliates, and transformed into a protected wildlife sanctuary area which is overseen by local environmental groups or communities.

The organization’s first successful purchase of land for conservation occurred in 2016, following an Indiegogo campaign that raised $35,500 from over 2,000 donors around the world. The donors voted to purchase a parcel of land in the El Toro forest in the Andean mountains of Peru, which is home to the world’s most critically endangered primate – the Woolly Monkey. Following the purchase, TiME transferred the control of the land to a local NGO, Asociación Neotropical Primate Conservation Peru.

In late December, the NGO announced that it has acquired enough funds to purchase 7,000 square meters in a region of the Peruvian Amazon which is home to endangered species such as the White Fronted Monkey and the Spectacled Bear. Following the purchase, the lands will become part of a local nature reserve that is being managed by local communities.

The Amazonian site was selected over parcels of land in Belize and in Kenya, receiving well over 50% of the votes of TiME members

“The area that will now be bought will be a critical component in the protection of a region known as the Royal Sun Angles Gardens” explained Professor Uri Shanas, TiME founder and co-chair. “Beyond the significance of the forest as part of the Amazon watershed, it constitutes a habitat for a tremendous range of plants and wildlife that are threatened and in dire need of protection.”

Besides the many mammal species living in this year’s selected site, there also exists an astonishing array of birds, several of them also extremely rare – a prime example being the endangered Sun Royal Angel, the bird for which the area is named.

“The purchased lands will not only protect the wildlife population but the adjacent communities as well,” said Shanas. One example of this is the community of La Primavera – a remote village, located a day-and-a-half walk away from the protected area, which is dependent on these forest areas for the smooth passage and filtering of streams.

According to Shanas, the streams provide a regular, potable water source as well as the local electricity via a small hydroelectric power plant that serves the village. The purchase of the area will help protect those streams and fend off the threats of logging and hunting.

Though 7,000 Square meters may seem insignificant on a global scale, Shanas explained that 2.3 percent of the planet is defined as “hot spots”, namely regions that are home to extremely rich biodiversity and where native plants and wildlife face a very high risk of extinction. According to Shanas, protecting even a relatively small part of these hot spots can make an enormous contribution to the protection of numerous species.

Looking forward, the NGO isn’t looking to just preserve nature, but also to spread its vision of ecological solidarity via educational institutions, hoping to educate the public about the profound dangers associated with the rapid disappearance of forests across the planet, as well as the accelerated extinction of so many species.

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