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Environment / Sustainability

Students launch crowdfunding initiative to combat deforestation in the Amazon

May 8, 2014

The Amazon rainforest faces mounting threats from deforestation as the region's timber and mineral resources continue to be depleted.

Students for Amazonian ConservationTo help save the rainforest, a team of graduate students at Colorado State University has launched a new crowdfunding campaign that will support research and outreach aimed at empowering Peruvian communities to combat deforestation and protect local livelihoods.

Students for Amazonian Conservation has set a goal to raise $6,000, with 28 percent raised so far. The team leaves for a six-month trip to Puerto Maldonado in the Peruvian Amazon at the end of May. Donations to the campaign, which can be made starting at $10, will support research materials, community outreach, and facilitation of conservation workshops and partnership for local communities.

The jaguar, like this one captured in a motion camera in the Peruvian Amazon, is one of the top predators in the Amazon forest ecosystem and is the largest cat in the Americas. Photo by the Smithsonian National ZooSustainable development

The team will be partnering with a local Peruvian conservation and community organization called AIDER, whose work includes co-managing the Tambopata Reserve by working with local and indigenous communities on initiatives to integrate conservation with sustainable community development.

The six-member student team is part of CSU’s Conservation Leadership Through Learning master’s program in the Warner College of Natural Resources. The master’s program includes a year of on-campus learning with intensive conservation immersion experiences around the globe. Students Diana Butler, Audrey Ek-Psomas, Kevin Pierce, Ryan Roberts, Hannah Smith, and Kellie Stump are conducting their project work in collaborative conservation and innovative funding mechanisms for conservation in the Peruvian Amazon beginning in June.

Benefiting people and the planet

The Amazon rainforest“We are very excited to see our students take the initiative to explore innovative ways to fund conservation and sustainable development work,” says Ryan Finchum, field director and co-founder of the CLTL master’s program. “This is the type of work that keeps our program at the cutting-edge of developing community-based solutions to conservation issues that benefit both people and the planet.”

In April, Colorado State University launched CHARGE!, one of the first university-based crowdfunding platforms in the country. Recently, crowdfunding has become a popular and powerful tool for building for individuals, businesses, and nonprofits all across the world. CSU’s CHARGE! provides easy opportunities for people to engage in and fund the projects and programs at CSU that inspire and connect individual donors to the university and the world. Every dollar counts, because it’s one more dollar to go to conservation of the Amazon.

“We jumped at the opportunity to raise funds for the exciting work we will be doing with our Peruvian partner, the Association for Research and Integrated Development,” said Smith. “This innovative university platform allows all donations to be tax deductible. Funding conservation of the most biodiverse area in the world is now in the hands of anyone with $10 to contribute.”

To learn more, visit the crowdfunding website or contact project leader Hannah Smith by email at hannahlorene@gmail.com or phone (208) 890-4646.

About CHARGE!

CHARGE! is the Colorado State University crowdfunding platform. Launched in April 2014, CHARGE! offers donors an opportunity to support projects and programs at CSU and gives CSU a new way to communicate the impact of gifts at CSU. All monies raised through CHARGE! will be directed to a gift fund held by the Colorado State University Foundation, a 501(c)(3), which benefits the respective program or project you support. For more information visit the website or call (970) 491-0252.

About Conservation Leadership Through Learning

The Conservation Leadership Through Learning (CLTL) program is motivated by the need to train a new generation of generalist practitioners capable of responding to linked conservation and development challenges across the globe. CLTL resides in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department in the Warner College of Natural Resources at CSU. The integrated coursework draws from three core disciplines including: natural and physical sciences, social sciences, and management and leadership. Recognizing that leadership qualities are heightened by exposure to diverse contexts, CLTL partners classroom learning with intensive field experiences in the United States and around the globe. To learn more visit the website or call (970) 491-7776.