The Tropical Andes represent less than one percent of the world's land area yet contain over 15% of all plant life and are home to 664 species of amphibians. High on the Andean peaks are paramo and cloud forest ecosystems notable for their water and fog-trapping plants. These ecosystems encompass 123 sites that contain species dependant on that single site for survival. Continued degradation of these ecosystems not only impacts rare species but also threatens a critical source of fresh water.
Rare's "Pride campaigns" in the Andes are encouraging communities to establish reciprocal agreements for water (ARAs) that allow downstream fresh water users to pay into a fund that incentivizes upstream landowners to protect their forests. Throughout these campaigns, Rare Conservation Fellows build community awareness, teach sustainable farming techniques, and work with local governments and water facilities to establish and promote ARAs.
By encouraging community-based sustainable practices, Rare is protecting critical habitats that support the long-term integrity of the region, the species living there, and the livelihoods of local communities. A recent Rare Conservation Fellow alumni survey revealed that 73% of Rare partners sustained their campaigns after the formal two-year partnership.