An indigenous Paiter Surui boy, Brazil Indigenous people are the most effective defenders of the rainforest Back to overview

Supporting rainforest defenders

Rainforests are in particularly good shape wherever Indigenous peoples live and local communities are committed to conservation. Protecting their rights and strengthening them is an important part of our work to defend the forests. Rainforest guardians use a variety of approaches depending on local conditions.


When Salim enters the forest, he takes off his shoes. He says he wants to feel the ground beneath the soles of his feet. Many of our partners are like him: They have grown up with the rainforest and its wildlife and live close to nature. The rainforest is their home.

Rainforest defenders work in an environment marked by a man-made ecological emergency and the impacts of the climate crisis. Many are willing to make personal sacrifices and some take their lives in their hands. To ensure their safety, we must protect their identities.

Rainforest defenders actively resist the advance of industrial agriculture and mining companies, and pursue illegal loggers and wildlife traffickers. They help establish formal land rights that provide crucial protection against land grabbing and clear-cutting. Their lawsuits can put a stop to the destructive plans of governments and corporations.

All of our partners have one thing in common: They are grateful for Rainforest Rescue’s support, and for the respect, solidarity and trust we show them.

Your donation to support the work of rainforest defenders enables these and other projects:

Matek surveying a forest

Mapping to defend the rights of Indigenous people

Environmentalist Matek Geram works tirelessly to defend Sarawak’s rainforests against palm oil companies and loggers. His work focuses on mapping the land of the Indigenous Iban people to secure their land rights, giving them the legal standing to sue companies that illegally encroach on their forests.

Papuan woman wearing a mask with the slogan “Protect the forest – the forest protects us”

Saving the rainforest in Papua and strengthening forest rights

The rainforests of Papua are suffering an onslaught of logging, palm oil and mining companies. Land grabbing and clear cutting are increasing alarmingly. The livelihoods of local communities are being destroyed along with the forest. The environmental and human rights organization PUSAKA is fighting back.

Batwa people near Kahuzi-Biega National Park

Congo-Kinshasa: The Batwa people and the gorillas

The Kahuzi-Biega National Park region is home to the Indigenous Batwa people and habitat of critically endangered gorillas. The Batwa once lived in and with the forests, but were displaced by ‘fortress conservation’ measures. CAMV is an organization that has been working for many years to reconcile Indigenous rights and rainforest conservation, because the preservation of nature cannot succeed without the support of local communities.

Spirituality in Guinea-Bissau

Preserving Guinea-Bissau’s forest with ancient rites

According to the people who call them home, the forests of Guinea-Bissau are teeming with ghosts and demons. But the eerie ones are a force for good, as the spirituality of local communities is a driver of nature conservation – in tandem with the worldly power of radio. Villagers report crimes against nature so that the authorities can intervene.

Your donation for the rainforest

An indigenous Paiter Surui boy, Brazil

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