When we visit special natural spaces like parks, beaches, or rainforests, we’re told to “take only pictures, leave only footprints.” We’re told not to make a permanent mark on these places.

But there are ways to make a lasting, powerful, and positive footprint on places like the Amazon rainforest. We’ve created an opportunity for you to leave something meaningful and impactful in the rainforest– your name, your impact, your legacy.

This year, with travel on hold, excitement hard to come by, and giving more important than ever, these end of year gift giving opportunities will allow you to build a direct, concrete, meaningful connection to the Amazon rainforest and to Rainforest Partnership’s partner community, Sani Isla. 

These rainforest gifts will be more than an exciting surprise for a loved one; it will be a gift of stability for the Sani Isla community, protection for the Amazon, and commitment to forest and future.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought Sani Isla’s income to zero. And in the rainforest, sustainable livelihoods and rainforest protection are two sides of the same coin. 

The story of our partnership with Sani Isla

At Rainforest Partnership, we are proud that our relationships with our partners are strong, meaningful, and long term. We build connections that last.

One of Rainforest Partnership’s longest partnerships is with Sani Isla, an indigenous Kichwa community along the Rio Napo in the Ecuadorian Amazon. When we first visited Sani Isla in 2009, we built strong relationships with the community and began to work together to generate sustainable livelihoods and reliable incomes for the people there. 

By working with their community-owned and run ecolodge, Sani Lodge, and by organizing some of the community’s women into an organization, Sani Warmi, to produce and sell artisan crafts, RP and Sani Isla were able to create pathways for economic stability in the community. And that stability enables them to continue their work protecting the rainforest around them. 

The Lodge creates income for the whole community by rotating workers; by cycling people in and out, many families benefit rather than just a few. The Lodge, which is the only ecolodge in Ecuador that is 100% owned, operated  and managed by an indigenous community, has been a major source of income, stability, and support for the entire community over the years.

Here in 2020, over ten years since we began our partnership, we’re still working together to build sustainable livelihoods for the community, support the community’s women, and protect the forest.

And now you can be a part of this ongoing story. 

What is happening in Sani Isla?

The COVID-19 pandemic is particularly threatening to communities like Sani Isla. Many indigenous communities in the region don’t have reliable access to health care, education, government support, or internet. But at the same time, these communities protect vast areas of rainforest.

Because of the pandemic, Sani Isla has lost its  main source of income, which was from ecotourism at Sani Lodge. Now, workers at Sani Lodge have to volunteer their time, with no income and very few alternatives to make a living. The community’s school doesn’t have the funding to get internet, laptops, books, or basic school supplies for its students.

These economic effects of the pandemic not only make life difficult for the community, but they pose threats to the rainforest as well. Without economic resilience and resources, the community is more vulnerable to the pressures of extractive industries, which can lead to deforestation and biodiversity loss. 

How you can directly help the Sani Isla Community this holiday season

Finding accessible, trustworthy, and impactful ways to make a difference can be tricky. 

That’s why we’ve created three campaigns for you to send your support directly to the Sani Isla community to help supplement their lost income during the pandemic. 

By choosing one of these rainforest themed holiday gifts for a loved one, you will also be giving to the workers at Sani Lodge and their families, the community’s women, and all the families and community members involved in these projects. Your gift will help them generate a sustainable, reliable income for them during this difficult time. You’ll be giving a gift back to the rainforest and its incredible biodiversity by enabling the Sani Isla community to protect their forests and support themselves. 

1. Sponsor a Tree

In a specially selected area of the rainforest surrounding Sani Isla, your tree will stand proudly in a cohort of one hundred others. Each tree will have a personalized plaque and you will receive certificates, sponsor packets, updates, and more. 

Each tree will generate income for the Lodge, Sani Warmi, and the community. Your tree will represent your generosity and connection to the rainforest, no matter where you are in the world. 

2. Virtual Tours

We’ve created an exciting, unique, and intimate Virtual Tour of the Sani Isla community so you can experience its beauty firsthand. In this time of remote travel and quarantine, taking a virtual trip down the Rio Napo in the Ecuadorian Amazon is a meaningful, energizing, and beautiful experience. 

3. Adopt a Turtle

By adopting a turtle, you will help conserve an endangered species, support women during the pandemic when their income has disappeared, restore biodiversity, and protect the Amazon! 

The women of Sani Isla raise baby charapas, an endangered species of river turtle, until they are ready to be released into Sani Isla’s Chaullacocha lagoon. These charapa turtles are threatened by habitat destruction and overhunting from illegal trade. 

The women are now collecting eggs to be nurtured and released. By signing up for our Adopt a Turtle updates, you can be the first to hear when the eggs hatch, to watch the baby turtles grow, and see them released safely back into the lagoon.

The women of Sani Isla make only around $500 a year– by sponsoring a turtle’s entire life cycle, you not only protect and nurture your turtle, but you will also make a tangible, significant impact for the women in the community. 

Sign up to join our Adopt a Turtle community, adopt an egg and reserve your own unique, endangered, (and adorable) baby turtle. Give it a name, receive certificates, information, pictures, and updates when your turtle is released. Perfect for a holiday gift or a classroom pet!

Whichever way you choose to give, your money will make a tangible difference in the daily lives of the community members by providing funds for education, maintaining Sani Lodge, and protecting critical rainforest and wildlife. You can make a serious impact by helping this community directly and by showing them that there are people, even far away, who support them, their livelihoods, their wellbeing, and their commitment to ecological stewardship.