It’s no secret that our planet is in peril, but you may be surprised by what passionate people in communities as far flung as Massachusetts and Mariscal Ramon Castilla, Peru, are doing to stop the destruction. They’re investing in environmentally-friendly modes of transportation, finding new ways to save majestic trees in the Amazon, protecting endangered animals, and hundreds of other amazing things.
In honor of Earth Day on April 22, celebrate the ingenuity and tenacity of locally driven nonprofits, and learn more about six little-known GlobalGiving projects that need your support. There’s no better time than now to help:
1. Restore color to coral reefs.
It’s hard to get the image of once vibrant coral reefs, now ghostly white, out of your head. Photos from new aerial surveys show that about two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef is now bleached as a result of rising sea temperatures and acidity. The condition, if not reversed, could kill the corals and threaten the biodiversity of our oceans, and it’s not limited to the Great Barrier. The Coral Reef Alliance wants to stop the crisis, starting with the Mesoamerican Reef in the Caribbean, through an innovative conservation blueprint that incorporates cooperative, locally-based alliances and educational programs. Learn more.
2. Revive sacred forests in south India.
Tucked away in forests along one river in south India are some 150 temples. Known as forest temples, these beautiful structures and the rich flora and fauna that surround them are sacred to many Indians. Because of their remote locations, it’s hard to know how many forest temples exist in India, but those that are known are widely revered. That’s what makes temple forests ideal sites for protection and conservation education, according to ROSI Foundation. Located in Tamil Nadu, the foundation is raising money to identify existing plants and animals and plant new saplings at 50 forest temples. Learn more.
3. Save the Amazon (with tiny saws and beetles).
The disappearing Amazon rainforest has for decades concerned conservationists, but the tools that indigenous communities are using to reverse deforestation might surprise you. In the Ampiyacu River region of the Peruvian Amazon, it’s all about slender pruning saws and little beetles. For years, cutting and burning forests along the river was more profitable for families in poverty than conserving them, so illegal logging flourished. In partnership with residents, the Center for Amazon Community Ecology searched for money-making alternatives. They studied how weevils sparked the production of resin on trees, which can be used for incense, lighting, and boat repairing. Participants in the study then replicated the process manually, thus creating a new sustainable source of revenue for residents. The center is also planting Rosewood and Moana trees in the area, which produce fragrant oils that can be sold. And it also distributes pruning saws to artisans who want to harvest plants for handicrafts without destroying them. Learn more.
4. Invest in alternative transportation.
The good news in Massachusetts? The popularity of biking has increased 75 percent in just a few years, according to the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition. The bad news? Roadways across the state haven’t evolved quickly enough to meet the demand. The Bay State bicycle coalition is raising money to connect off-road bikes paths with main thoroughfares and reduce risks for bicyclists by training motorists and bus drivers to share the road. Think about how much greenhouse gas we could eliminate in the United States if two wheels were more common than four! Learn more.
5. Harness the power of the sun to brighten the lives of refugees.
Imagine living in a tent in a refugee camp with no electricity. It’s a reality for many refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq who are forced to live in makeshift camps in Greece. Kids are not able to read and learn at night, women do not feel safe to go to the bathroom in the dark, and people are unable to contact their families using charged cell phones, according to the nonprofit Movement on the Ground. It’s on a mission to harness the power of the sun to make nighttime conditions safer at the Kara Tepe camp in Lesvos, Greece. Movement on the Ground is installing solar panels across the camp. If it can be done there, it can be done anywhere! Learn more.
6. Offer respite to our closest living relatives.
Gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos are listed as endangered or critically endangered species, and unless human behaviors change, these close relatives of humans may become extinct in our lifetime. The Pan African Sanctuary refuses to let this happen. The nonprofit runs 22 sanctuaries in Africa where children and families can witness the majesty of primates firsthand. In addition to providing refuge for animals who have survived the meat and pet trade, the sanctuary helps set up native tree nurseries, women’s craft cooperatives, and clean-burning cookstoves in communities, which offer alternatives to livelihoods that hurt gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos or destroy their habitats. Learn more.
It is our hope that you are moved on Earth Day to support one of these unsung agents of change. Happy Earth Day from your friends at GlobalGiving!