Continuing its campaign to save endangered ecosystems through a worldwide crowd-funding strategy, This is My Earth (TiME) has closed out 2017 with enough funds to purchase a 7,000 dunam track of wild jungle lands in the Peruvian Amazon. The lands are home to such remarkable species as the Spectacled Bear, White Fronted Monkey and Jaguars. These animals, along with several other species face high levels of vulnerability to extinction. With the purchase, the lands will become part of a local nature reserve that is being managed by the local communities.
“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” explains 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”.
This is MyEarth was founded three years ago by Professor Shanas from the University of Haifa and Oranim who was then joined by Tel Aviv University Professor, Alon Tal, as a new, international, conservation organization that is especially democratic: members of the general public worldwide are welcome to join TiME “according to their ability” – starting with a single dollar as a membership fee. Members all have an equal voice, regardless of their donation level, in selecting the critical habitat which is to be purchased from a list of three candidate parcels, nominated by communities around the world and approved by an international scientific board due to their ecological significance. The land selected is then purchased through by the organization’s volunteer affiliates, and transformed into a protected wildlife sanctuary area, overseen by local environmental groups or communities.
In 2016, the organization made its first habitat purchase in the Andean mountains of Peru, which is home to the world’s most critically endangered primate: the woolly monkey. This year, the site in the Amazon was selected over parcels in Belize and in Kenya, receiving well over 50% of the votes of TiME members. Besides the many exceptional mammal species living in this year’s site, are an astonishing array of birds, several of them also extremely rare, like the endangered Sun Royal Angel, a species which give rise to the area’s name.
The purchased lands will not only protect the local population of animals but also the adjacent communities, including the community of La Primavera.
As Professor Shanas explains, their remote village, a distance of a day and half walk away from the protected rea, is dependent on these forest areas that allows for the smooth passage and filtering of streams. “The streams provide a regular, potable water source as well as the local electricity via a small hydro-electric power plant that serves the village. Setting aside the new 7000 dunam parcel provides protection from logging and hunting activities that threaten the area.
Shanas describes the global context for TiME’s work: “As we declared when we established the organization, 2.3 percent of the plant are defined as “hot spots” – regions which are home to extremely rich biodiversity – but where the endemic wildlife and plants face extinction. That’s why protecting even a relatively small area can make an enormous contribution to numerous species protection. The fact that for our first two campaigns, we have succeeded in demonstrating that enough people across the world are willing to become engaged and make contributions for this truly important objective is extremely encouraging and is a source of tremendous optimism.”
But TiME’s is not just about protecting nature. Professor Shanas explains: “Last year, TiME began bringing its vision of ecological solidarity into educational institutions: from elementary schools to universities, in order to teach about the profound dangers associated with the rapid disappearance of forests across the planet and accelerated extinction of so many species. Beyond its immediate objective of preserving the endangered ecosystems around the world, TiME also seeks to provide school children and students with the tools for being more engaged – offering them the satisfaction of being involved in concrete activities to save the earth".