Pledger Statement: Leslie Santos & Brett Byers
We had long been supporters of ecosystem conservation. But our interest increased very substantially in the last several years as we focused on the threat of global warming and the potential role of forest in combating it.
Within the coming centuries (or earlier), global warming could threaten nearly all life on earth. Even sooner, perhaps within decades, nearly all life in the earth’s oceans could be threatened by ocean acidification, caused by the same high carbon dioxide levels that are the primary cause of global warming. Ocean acid levels are already beginning to endanger plankton and other life upon which much of the ocean food chain depends and the threat could be grave within 50 years. While global warming may be relatively limited during our lifetimes, it may have a profound effect on the world during the lifetimes of our three children.
As described under the “Why make the pledge?” in the FAQ and at www.halfthesolution.com, prompt protection of threatened forest and recovery of degraded forests could together act as a key part of the solution to global warming in the coming few decades as the absolutely necessary conversion away from use of fossil fuels gradually builds.
We researched many options to save rainforest via donations to numerous charities. We traveled twice to the Amazon Basin, once with Nature and Culture International to Ecuador and once with Rainforest Trust to Peru, to observe conservation projects and become acquainted with local conservation leaders.
We have provided financial support for Conservation International Suriname’s work to continue to protect the 4 million acre Central Suriname Nature Reserve. Conservation International Suriname has several ongoing conservation projects in Suriname, including the 17.8 million acre South Suriname Conservation Corridor project, providing for conservation of an acre of tropical forest for as little as one dollar.
Through Nature and Culture International, we provided support for efforts to establish a number of municipal watershed preserves in Ecuador, including for Azogues, Gualaquiza and Perez de Castilla. Through our donations to Natural and Culture International, we have provided financial support relating to protection of over 200,000 acres which have successfully been placed under conservation.
Through Rainforest Trust, we provided support primarily to two projects in Peru, but have also supported projects throughout Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia. Based on our donations to Rainforest Trust, we have supported efforts to protect over 800,000 acres which have successfully been placed under conservation. In Peru, we supported work to title and protect numerous indigenous reserves in the Loreto region of Peru, involving the first ever overturning of a previously granted forestry concession in Peru. We also provided support to a project aiming to protect a total of nearly 6 million acres in Loreto and Ucayali regions of Peru via the creation of the Sierra del Divisor National Park (declared in 2015), a proposed White Sands National Preserve, and 57 proposed bordering indigenous and community territories.
Brett served as a member of the board of directors of Rainforest Trust for several years, advocating multi-million acre conservation projects, such as the Sierra del Divisor project, to help ensure continued sequestration of huge quantities of carbon while also protecting wildlife and indigenous people.