Australian Rainforest Foundation, which has purchased and protected 36 Australian rainforest properties, has announced its merger with long established US-based charity, Rainforest Trust.
The new entity, Rainforest Trust Australia, will act as the Australian arm of the organisation, and Mullumbimby man Kelvin Davies has been appointed as the group’s inaugural CEO.
Kelvin comes to the role with a long history in rainforest conservation, including serving as CEO and Founding Director of Rainforest Rescue for 15 years and working collaboratively with Blank founder and editor Samantha Morris on conservation projects for the past three years.
He said the merger between Australian Rainforest Foundation and Rainforest Trust will see significant gains in rainforest conservation across the globe, as well as a focus on northern NSW activities.
“In collaboration with a local conservation partner, Rainforest Trust recently celebrated the landmark creation of the immense 3.3 million acre Sierra del Divisor National Park in Peru’s Amazon rainforest,” Kelvin said.
The new national park is the final link in a 67 million acre Andes-Amazon Conservation Corridor that protects both wildlife and indigenous communities.
A little closer to home, the US organisation also successfully protected 168,032 acres of rainforest in Borneo from logging and oil palm companies. The land is essential habitat for endangered wildlife such as Bornean Orangutans, Bornean Pygmy Elephants and Clouded Leopards and includes some of the most critical stretches of lowland rainforest in Borneo.
“That’s just two examples of what is being achieved at the global scale,” Kelvin said.
“Since 1988, Rainforest Trust has purchased and protected 11.5 million acres with a goal of saving 50 million acres of rainforests and tropical habitat for endangered species around the world by 2020. What’s really exciting is that Australia’s rainforests are now on the radar as part of that bigger picture.”
“Australian donors can now make tax deductible donations to support Rainforest Trust’s global land conservation projects, but more significantly, donors from all over the world can help protect rainforests here,” Kelvin said.
Through the merger, Rainforest Trust Australia gains board expertise from the USA, including renowned ornithologist and conservationist Paul Salaman, who has personally discovered five new bird species.
“Locally, we are engaging the Madhima Gulgan Bush Regeneration Team to restore the Big Scrub Rainforest,” Kelvin said. “Through this program, we create employment for Aboriginal people working on Country.”
Rainforest Trust-Australia will extend this model to other parts of Australia. They’re also about to launch their Daintree Rewilding project which includes the purchase of properties in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest, which will then be gifted back to the Queensland Government for inclusion into Queensland’s national park estate.
“Donors are often looking for organisations that can guarantee the maximum amount of money hitting the ground,” Kelvin said.
“Through this merger, we eliminate duplication of efforts, increase organisational efficiency and ensure the best possible outcome for rainforests.”
More information is available at rainforesttrust.org.
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Samantha Morris currently consults to Rainforest Trust Australia.