Crowdsourcing nature reserves to save the yellow-tailed woolly monkey

peru nature reserve crowdsource

We did this when I was a kid at high-school: raise hotdog money or donations to buy rainforest in the Amazon. Researchers from Israel are now crowdsourcing the idea and turning Peruvian jungle into a nature reserve. Great ideas like this may save our planet. We reported on this initiative it in 2015, and now it’s happened, with questions answered.

The Israeli-founded organization called Time, has crowdsourced funds to purchase the first area of land to become a nature reserve. The goal is to preserve biodiversity and save endangered species around the world. But this first plot, 80 hectares in size, contains over 300 species of animals, many on the brink of extinction.

“Within less than a year, we’ve managed to show that it’s possible to save species and protect the earth through crowdsourcing, thanks to lots of caring people,” says Time founder Prof. Uri Shanas from the University of Haifa.

Related: save seeds and preserve food diversity with Eddy

TIME which stands for This is My Eart) was established by Shanas and the renowned environmentalist and lawyer Alon Tal of Tel Aviv University, about 18 months ago. Any person that donates to the organization, whether a dollar or a million has equal voting rights.

Once a year members choose at least three threatened habitats from different parts of the world selected by the organization’s scientific committee. Each of the habitats is home to a diverse range of endangered species. The selected habitat is then bought by TIME and becomes a nature reserve. The sale is undertaken through local organizations responsible for managing the new nature reserve following its purchase.

The first habitat chosen is in the Peruvian Andes is home to over 300 species of birds, lizards, and mammals, many of which appear on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, such as the yellow-tailed woolly monkey and the long-whiskered owlet.

The owner of the site placed it on the market and TiME will buy the land for $30,000. Of this sum, $25,000 was raised by crowdsourcing while $5,000 was donated by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which supports environmental protection projects, among other areas.

“According to Peruvian law, the land can only be sold to locals and accordingly, the land will be purchased in the community’s name by a local conservation organization, Neotropical Primate Conservation, managed by the researcher couple Sam and Noga Shani.

“The Shanis have lived in the area for years, working to help save species in danger of extinction. They will manage the site together with the local community, and in the spirit of TIME, research and educational activities will be integrated in the purchased area,” said Tal.

“The rate of deforestation in the rainforest is among the highest in the world,” Prof. Shanas concludes. “This specific site serves as an important corridor between two existing reserves. Breaking the chain of forests in this area could dissect the region, leaving small animal populations unable to survive.

“Although this is a small area of land, we have been motivated by this success. We really hope that this proof of concept will help us recruit more supporters and members over the coming year.”



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