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

Sting, Founder
Trudie Styler, Founder, Deputy Chairperson
Franca Sciuto, Co-Founder, Chairperson
Athos Gontijo, Financial Director
Li Lu, Treasurer
Madeleine Lesser, 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 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), Etnobotanica (Bolivia), Frente de Defensa de Amazonia (Ecuador), ClearWater 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

The start:

A promise.

In the first years of work, the Rainforest Foundation focused on the Amazon region of Brazil, per the 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 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 the promise, the Rainforest Foundation became Rainforest Fund and broadened involvement in all of the world’s rainforests.

The organizations jointly known as Rainforest Foundation, founded by Sting and Trudie Styler in 1989, have been supporting indigenous peoples and traditional populations of the rainforest in their efforts to conserve their land and defend their rights. In its first years of work, the Rainforest Foundation focused on the Amazon region of Brazil, as the very first action was 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. The promise was fulfilled in 1992. Since our beginning, programs have been developed throughout Brazil in multi-ethnic indigenous territories and then diversified by initiating new countries such as Belize, Cameroon, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexico, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. 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 Foundation as a whole developed even more professional and consistent programs, expanding in Africa through the specialization of RF UK, in Asia through the expertise of RF Norway, and the Americas where RF US broadened its involvement and expertise. In 2014, our work continues with many of the multi-year projects mentioned above, with a particular focus on extractive industries.


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 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 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 RFUND 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.

The RFUND will NOT consider requests for:

  • conservation projects
  • general operating support of organizations structures
  • international fundraising appeals or campaign
  • 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 November 1st 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 protection from harmful effects from palm oil extraction.


Brainforest – In its third year of funding, the Community Legal Fieldworkers project will continue only in Gabon as we have suspended activities in CAR due to the internal conflict that has been occurring since spring 2013.  This year in Gabon, the main project’s focus is heightening the training and the securitization of CLFWs within indigenous communities. Last year, 2013, 40 paralegals were trained throughout Gabon and CAR, over 2000 people participated in community meetings with 1500 either training or trained; and, 15 birth certificates for children in Gabon have been acquired.


Brainforest and Forum Pour la Gouvernance et des Droits de L’homme (FGDH) – This project is in its second year of funding and aims to mitigate the negative impacts from palm oil development on rainforest communities by seeking greater transparency and awareness amongst decision makers.  The main goal this year is to strengthen the advocacy and communication strategies of our partner organizations to curtail the negative effects of palm oil expansion while protecting indigenous communities from planned activities.


Envrionment, Ressources Naturelles et Development (ERND) – This is a new project that seeks to rescue the Batwa indigenous people who are in the middle of a legal case regarding their rights to their lands and resources.  It is anticipated that the indigenous peoples’ rights will be sidelined so this project seeks to prepare themselves to present their complaint to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights. 



We provide integral support to groups in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia who fight for the recognition of their rights to exist and to control their land.


The Bismarck Ramu Group – In its fourth year of funding, this project aims to continue to advance community development though networking, training and media based on PNG’s five constitutional principles: Integral human development; Equality and participation; National sovereignty and self-reliance; Natural resources and environment; and, Papua New Guinean Ways.  This project is being supported this year, in part, by funds raised at the Ormeley Dinner in London.


Paradisea – This project focuses on establishing “green corridors” within the Bird Head Peninsula of New Guinea in order to prevent deforestation that has occurred throughout Indonesia but has yet to reach this particular location.  The green corridors would be established between nature reserves where indigenous communities seek to secure their rights to manage the forest sustainably.  



In Brazil, Panama, Peru, Boliva and Ecuador our projects support land protection and monitoring; right to water; natural resource management; and indigenous children education.


Equipe de Conservção da Amazônia (ECAM) – This year, ECAM will work with the Tembe indigenous peoples in the state of Para to establish and implement a Life Plan according to their needs as expressed by them.  The project will utilize methods similar to those enacted with the Surui Tribe in past years that were so successful; including the development of a vigilance plan, cultural map, ethno-environmental diagnostic survey and ethno-zoning process.


CGTCEW and CNPW – This project is in its fourth year of funding and seeks to title 4 Embera and Wounaan collective lands, corresponding to more than one million acres, and to implement participatory land management plans in order to consolidate rights and establish a solid base for sustainable development.


Quechua Federation of the Upper Pastaza (FEDIQUEP) and Solsticio – In its third year of funding this project seeks to continue to enhance the organizational strengthening of the Quechua federation so that better monitoring of their territory is possible. 

AIDESEP – Emergency funding supports the legal cases of indigenous leaders and people arrested during the Bagua Riots in 2009.  So far, local lawyers have been successful in releasing from prison over 100 indigenous people and are currently working to ensure that the remaining individuals are freed.

EJECUTOR DEL CONTRACTO DE ADMINISTRACION (ECA RCA) – This project focuses on strengthening traditional governance, assessing environmental risks to the Amarakaeri communal reserve through a participatory diagnostic and implementing a community monitoring program


WATER PROJECT In Sucumbíos and Orellana, we continue our commitment to bringing clean and potable water to mestizos and indigenous communities who have been affected by oil pollution for decades. We are expanding the work with our partners Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia and ClearWater to install 800 more rainwater purification and storage systems.  This year, the projects will build over 500 rainwater tanks!


COMMUNIDAD VIVA – We have supported this organization since its inception and this project aims at increasing the growth of the Garabata plant which is used by a group of women artisans to make handicrafts that support and sustain the communities’ livelihoods.  This group of women, the Cooperative Cheque Otiede, has grown in experience but has also been presented with new challenges, such as the need to increase the quantity of raw materials in order to increase production and sales of the handicrafts.  In the words of project leader, "The cultivation of Bromelia hieronymi (garabata), the sustainable harvesting practice by the artisans in Puesto Paz, and the international market allowed these women to maintain their identity and culture despite the strong influence of the modern way of life.”


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
  • The Rainforests
  • Land rights
  • Economic rights
  • Social rights
  • Water access
  • International organizations
  • UN conventions
  • The environment
Bloggers are urged to be creative!


Please submit to Madeleine (, the following:
  • 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
648 Broadway, Room 1004
New York, NY 10012
(T) 212-677-6045
(F) 212-460-5609