The past and the future are connected through the decisions we make in the present.


We support rainforest communities in fulfilling their rights and sustaining their livelihoods.

Who We Are

, Co-Founder
Trudie Styler, Co-Founder, Deputy Chairperson
Franca Sciuto, Co-Founder, Chairperson
Athos Gontijo, Financial Director
Li Lu, Treasurer
John-Paul Davidson, Board Member
Mickey Sumner, Board Member
Jennifer Caplan, Program and Development Officer

What We Do

The Rainforest Fund supports programs that cover a range of issues from protection of civil and political rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, to the promotion and defense of their social, economic and cultural rights, including the protection of rights to their land and against the destructiveness of resource exploitation.

We support:

  • Community development
  • Natural resource management
  • Institutional strengthening
  • Legal defense
  • Public awareness
  • Policy activities
  • Climate change mitigation so that indigenous and tribal peoples may sustain a healthy livelihood.

Programs originate with Rainforest Foundation Norway, Rainforest Foundation UK, Rainforest Foundation US, Equipe de Conservção da Amazônia (ECAM, Brazil), Comunidad Viva (Bolivia), Ceibo Alliance (formerly ClearWater, Ecuador), Alliance Nationale d’Appui et de Promotion des Aires du Patrimoine Autochtone et Communautaire (ANAPAC, Democratic Republic of the Congo) and various indigenous organizations within rainforest countries. We assess each program based on stringent criteria, the most important being the empowerment and ownership of the beneficiaries. Planning and implementation measures must be conducted primarily by the beneficiaries as all programs and activities should strengthen the peoples themselves.

The funding cycle begins at the end of October each year.

Our History

Our Beginnings

Co-founded by Sting, Trudie Styler, and Dr. Franca Sciuto in 1989, the organizations jointly known as Rainforest Foundation focused on the Amazon region of Brazil. The organization began with a promise made by Sting to the Indigenous leader Raoni, of the Kayapó tribe, to help him and his people obtain legal rights to their traditional land.

This commitment was fulfilled in 1992, thanks to the generous contributions and support of people from all over the world. The physical demarcation of the Kayapó tribe’s land was undertaken with the Indigenous People themselves through the most modern technology.

In fulfilling this promise, the Rainforest Foundation became Rainforest Fund and broadened involvement in all of the world’s rainforests, supporting Indigenous Peoples and traditional populations of the rainforest in their efforts to conserve their land and defend their rights.

Since our beginning, programs have been developed throughout Brazil in multi-ethnic Indigenous territories. Beyond Brazil, we have since diversified our work by initiating new countries such as Belize, Kenya, Costa Rica, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bolivia, Myanmar, Ecuador, Mexico, Guyana, Honduras, Indonesia, Panama, The Philippines, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, and Peru. Our approach has always been one of supporting on the ground projects initiated and carried out by local non-governmental organizations and Indigenous groups, dealing with land rights, community organization, forest protection and resource inventories, as well as legal support, human rights protection, campaigning, and advocacy.

With the experience gained during years of work, the Rainforest Fund as a whole developed even more professional and consistent programs, expanding in Africa through the specialization of Rainforest Foundation United Kingdom, in Asia through the expertise of Rainforest Foundation Norway, and the Americas where Rainforest Foundation United States broadened its involvement. Additionally working with government and intergovernmental bodies including national and local governments, the World Bank, United Nations, and European Union.

In our almost 30 years of work, the Rainforest Fund has partnered with Indigenous communities on approximately 300 multi-year projects in over 20 countries, with a particular focus on human rights of Indigenous Peoples and their battles against the illegal loggers, settlers, mining, and oil interests.

Protect and support indigenous and traditional populations in their efforts to conserve their environments and fulfill their rights.


Our Mission: 

The Rainforest Fund is a charitable foundation dedicated to the support of Indigenous Peoples and traditional populations in their efforts to protect their environment and fulfill their rights.

We are convinced that the accepted environmental and human rights principles embody the right of everyone to a secure, healthy and ecologically sound environment, and that environmental degradation leads to human rights violations such as the right to life, health and culture.

The Rainforest Fund bears in mind the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights, and carries out its mission by:

Funding programs and projects aimed at supporting Indigenous Peoples and traditional populations of the rainforests to assert their rights, to promote a sustainable development of their communities and to challenge governmental practices that have a damaging effect on their environment.


Starting with one promise in Brazil, we have since expanded to promote projects in Africa, Asia and other parts of South and Central America.


There are over one million forest-dwelling Indians in South America, several hundred thousand Pygmies in African forests, and hundreds of different indigenous communities living in the forests of Papua New Guinea, Borneo, The Philippines, Malaysia, Burma and Thailand.

Only these peoples, after centuries of adaptation, have learned how to deal with their environment without destroying it.

For over two decades, the Rainforest Fund has been supporting these indigenous and tribal communities helping them to defend their rights and protect their environment and land.

As a matter of principle and good governance, the Rainforest Fund will grant only 80% of the total budget of the project. Projects shall preferably have one year duration, will be assessed year by year, and will not go beyond a third year in order to avoid dependency.

Projects are evaluated according to strict criteria and include the following
  • The activities should strengthen the target group, the measures taken ought to be planned and implemented primarily by the beneficiaries themselves and based on local knowledge and expertise.
  • Emphasis is placed on those activities that relate specifically to the rights of indigenous people, to ensure their lives and environments are protected.
  • Generally it will support local indigenous communities which show potential to play a key role at the local, regional and national level and will benefit from limited input to achieve their goals.

The Rainforest Fund will NOT consider requests for:

  • Conservation projects
  • General operating support of organizations' structures
  • International fundraising appeals or campaigns
  • Individuals
  • Academic research projects
  • Purely data gathering projects or expeditions
  • Projects that seek primarily to provide long-term services which are the responsibility of the state
  • Production costs for films, video, television or radio projects
  • General operating support for indigenous organization structures greater than 17%
Application Deadlines and Procedures:
  • Deadline for the receipt of proposals is October 31st, and represents the final deadline for consideration of proposals.
  • Applications for grants are considered annually by the Board of Directors in mid-December
  • Successful applicants will be notified by January 15th 



We strengthen and support local civil organizations and forest communities’ rights to their land, resources and ensure that justice systems return favorable jurisprudence.


Project to Support the Protection and Defense of the Territorial Rights of Indigenous Peoples in REDD + Pilot Projects and Protected Areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo - Alliance Nationale d’Appui et de Promotiondes Aires du Patrimoine Autochtone et Communautaire en République démocratique du Congo (ANAPAC) 

In our second year of partnership, ANAPAC has extended this project into North Kivu, with the goal of ensuring that the Pygmies’ land rights are respected by the governmental agencies in charge of the REDD+ projects. The program works through regular community education initiatives, case reporting to identify Indigenous rights violations in the REDD + pilot zones, and exchanges and advocacy meetings which enable REDD+ authorities to address concerns about Indigenous rights violations.


Securing Chepkitale Ogiek Community Lands, Indigenous Forests, Knowledge, and Livelihoods - Indigenous People Development Project

This is our first year partnering with the Chepkitale Indigenous People Development Project. This community project works to ensure the strengthening of governance structures ensuring that natural resources are sustainably managed. These structures are critical to ensure legal processes are followed when protecting Indigenous human and land rights. The community has also worked with government agencies to identify the necessity to register ancestral lands.


Community Rights and Conservation in the Congo Basin - Observatoire congolais des droits de l'Homme (OCDH) - Groupe d’Action pour Sauver l’Homme et son Environnement (GASHE)

This project focuses on promoting the rights of local and Indigenous communities through nature conservation programs and policies in the Congo Basin. It has made significant progress through monitoring of infringement on local communities’ rights to lands, human rights, protection of livelihoods, and representation through informed consent.



Our projects in Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Peru  support land protection and monitoring; right to water; and natural resource management.


Strengthening the Tembe Community of Pará State in the Brazilian Amazon by Improving their Institutional Capacity and Implementing their Vigilance and Management Plans - Equipe de Conservacao da Amazonia (ECAM)

Equipe de Conservacao de Amazonia (ECAM), the monitoring organization helped strengthen the Tembe community of the Pará State to implement their Vigilance and Management Plans in view of the REDD+ program. Last year, most of the work focused on implementing several components of the Tembe’s Life Plan with continued actions on vigilance and the expanded control of their territory. They are also collaborating with state and NGO partners to develop their Life Plan within the context of the needs presented by the community and the Brazilian Federal Policy on Environmental Management on Indigenous Lands (PNGATI). ECAM continues to help the Tembe in measuring the carbon and biomass content of their forests as part of the Tembe Carbon project, building upon the accomplishments of previous years through the support of the Rainforest Fund. 

Strengthening of the Wai Wai People of the Trombetas Indigenous Lands Within the Context of the National Policy for Environmental Management on Indigenous Territories (PNGATI) - Equipe de Conservacao da Amazonia (ECAM)

Rainforest Fund and Equipe de Conservacao de Amazonia (ECAM) have been working to strengthen the Wai Wai people’s of the Trombetas Indigenous land rights, within the context of the Brazilian Federal Policy on Environmental Management on Indigenous Lands (PNGATI). Since, joint strategies have been developed to support park guards in the vigilance of their territory and the strengthening of their association to interface with their neighbors and governmental agents.


Defense of the Ancestral and Legal Rights of the Bribri People - The Bribri People and the Ditsö Iriria Council Ajkönuk Wakpa

This project aims to assist the Bribri Indigenous People of the Salitre forest, in recovering their legally recognized ancestral land. The Bribri are also strengthening their tribal government structures, creating awareness of their national and international human rights, and preserving their culture identity.


Ceibo Alliance – Alianza Ceibo (Ceibo Alliance)

The Ceibo Alliance (Ceibo) is an Indigenous-led non-profit organization comprised of members of the A’i Cofán, Siona, Siekopa’ai, and Waorani peoples. Their mission is to build an Indigenous-led movement for clean water, cultural survival, and rainforest protection in Ecuador’s northern Amazon.  With Ceibo, the Rainforest Fund has supported a comprehensive communication strategy, rainwater catchment systems, programs to support Indigenous rights defenders, alternative energy sources, environmental monitoring, territorial mapping, women’s empowerment programming, and cultural survival.
See the project video here: 


Strengthening Capacity for the Protection and Management of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve - Ejecutor del Contracto de Administración (ECA RCA)

This project focuses on strengthening the role of the Indigenous communities in the protection and management of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve.  The Reserve, located in the southern Amazon of Peru in the Madre de Dios region, was created for the Harakbut, Yine, and Machiguenga communities. The Reserve’s administration develops within the framework of co-management between the Peruvian State represented by the National Service of Protected Natural Areas (SERNANP) and the executing organization, Ejecutor del Contracto de Administración (ECA RCA), which is an association made up of 10 beneficiary native communities. Additional efforts of the program ensure the elevation of community members to leadership roles at the local and regional levels, and implementation of prevention activities in the towns within the Reserve’s buffer zone.

‘Forestlink’: Real-time Monitoring to Empower Indigenous Peoples to Protect the Amazon Rainforest - Federación Nativa del Río Madre de Dios y Afluentes (FENAMAD) - Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana (AIDESEP)

ForestLink is a real-time monitoring system developed to protect the forest from illegal logging and mining—and aims at consolidating the system in Peru’s Madre de Dios region with regional and national Indigenous partners. This tool has been an asset as communities are now informed quicker about the issues happening on their land, and are better equipped to address them in due time. A more recent focus has been to strengthen the community, not just on how to use the system, but also how to deal with the various situations they may face.  

Territorial Security and Access to Justice for the Asheninka Community of Alto Tamaya Saweto and the Abujao Tamaya Reserve on the Brazil Border Region - Native Community of Saweto Alto Tamaya

This project supports the Mosaico Tamaya Abujao community to develop a community safety plan. This plan is in response to identified illegal and violent activities in and around their recently demarcated land.  These activities are threatening Indigenous and local populations, affecting their fundamental civil and collective rights.

Emergency Funding for Extended Studies - Niños de la Amazonia

In 2011, the Rainforest Fund partnered with the Niños de la Amazonia program to support six Indigenous children in the Peruvian Amazon to follow their dreams of attending university, with the promise that they would return and contribute to their community as educated adults. Last year, the first of the ‘Niños’ graduated from university, and Rainforest Fund is supporting her with English classes to pursue a better job and have a greater impact.


Emergency Funding for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe – Oyate Sustainability Fund (OSF)

This year, Rainforest Fund provided emergency funding to the Oyate Sustainability Fund (OSF). OSF works to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who are fighting to protect their ancestral land and water sources from the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in the United States. The purpose of this funding was to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Resistance Camps during the harsh North Dakota winter and capacity building for a stronger and environmentally sustainable community.



We provide integral support to groups in Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines who fight for the recognition of their rights to exist, to control their land and to sustain their economies autonomously.


Territorial Security and Access to Justice for the Indigenous Bahau Dayak peoples of the Upper Mahakam – Perkumpulan Nurani Perempuan (PNP)

This is our first year working with the Indonesia Indigenous women’s organization, Perkumpulan Nurani Perempuan (PNP). The project works to secure land titles for two Bahau Dayak communities’ villages, one in Long Isun and the other in Long Hubung. Here, the people are fighting logging and palm oil concessions on their ancestral lands, without their consent. The project provides capacity-building, land, and community rights workshops; an environmental monitoring program; facilitates participatory mapping of ancestral lands; and provides para-legal support for land titling.

Strengthen the Participation of the Mentawai People in the Design and Implementation of Public Policies and in the Management of their Natural Resources in a Fair and Sustainable Way  - Yayasan Citra Mandiri Mentawai (YCMM)

This project has continued to strengthen and protect the rights of the Mentawai Indigenous People through the design and implementation of public policies, and in the management of their natural resources in a fair and sustainable way.  The Mentawai Islands are threatened by many corporate plans (logging, carbon traders, industrial plantations, and development projects) which are a danger to the forest and the Indigenous Peoples who rely on it. YCMM recently mobilized a successful campaign against a new threat of timber plantations on Siberut. This campaign, and YCMM’s other successes, have been accomplished by the Mentawai people, leading the project entirely from its conception to the project implementation.  YCMM also established three “jungle schools”, which are now operational and legally providing education services to the Mentawai children.


Strengthening Indigenous People for Community Driven Natural Resources Management in Tanintharyi Region
 – Tenasserim River & Indigenous Peoples’ Networks (TRIP NET)

This project is our first ever project in Myanmar. The TRIP NET project works to protect the forest and secure land rights in the Tenasserim river basin of southern Myanmar. The project aims to utilize Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge and cultural practices to protect the environment and improve their standard of living. This local-knowledge based research has assisted with the analysis, critique, collaboration, and development and implementation of sustainable natural resource management plans.


Supporting Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in Palawan (the Philippines) Through the Implementation of Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plans (ADSDPPs) 
- Group Coalition against Land Grabbing (CALG)

The objective of this project is to secure land, forest, and natural resources of the Indigenous communities in the Roxas, Quezon, Rizal, and Bataraza municipalities; in order to counter massive land grabbing, and thus ensure a healthy environment and a culturally viable livelihood. It works with Indigenous communities on capacity strengthening of conflict resolution techniques, assisting them in designing environmental protection measures, and fostering opportunities for Indigenous representatives.



Call For Bloggers

A Call For Bloggers

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." – John Muir

Some of the problems: 

Every day, extractive industries and illegal loggers threaten the livelihoods of indigenous and tribal populations living within the rainforests. Despite international agreement that calls for the consultation and consent of indigenous peoples regarding decisions that affect their lands, they continue to be left out of those critical conversations. Every time the forest is cut down or oil is spilled or land is overtaken, it is not just the earth, the animals and the people who live there that are affected – the global community is, as well. 

How you can help:

Rainforest Fund believes that the power of positive, collective discourse is essential in protecting the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples. We look to you – artists, students, photographers, environmentalists, advocates, academics, filmmakers, economists, professionals, the impassioned – to come together with your writing, photos, videos and illustrations to generate a most dynamic conversation.  

Volunteer bloggers are asked to contribute a piece of writing, a photo accompanied by a description or a video that reflects relevant RFUND issues including, but not limited to:
  • Indigenous & tribal populations
  • Human rights
  • Empowerment
  • Sustainability and Climate Change
  • Rainforests
  • Land rights
  • Economic rights
  • Social rights
  • Water access
  • International organizations
  • UN conventions
  • The environment
Bloggers are urged to be creative!


Please submit the following to Jennifer (
  • Letter that includes your experiences, backgrounds, fields of interest/study/work that influence your desire to participate
  • Brief writing sample – can be an excerpt from a longer work (no longer than 750 words)
  • List of other blogs in which you participate(d) (if applicable)
  • Relevant photos/illustrations/media (if applicable)
Each June and January (starting in 2014), recognition for the most inspirational post will be awarded and select postings will be featured in our annual report. 

We look forward to hearing from you!


Rainforest Fund
420 Lexington Avenue, Suite 1710
New York, NY 10170
(T) 212-677-6045
(F) 212-460-5609