Since 1993, RAN’s Protect-an-Acre program (PAA) has distributed more than one million dollars in grants to more than 150 frontline communities, Indigenous-led organizations, and allies, helping their efforts to secure protection for millions of acres of traditional territory in forests around the world.

Bayu Planting
Indonesia's Friends of the National Parks Foundation staff teach community members how to plant trees on the edge of Tanjung Puting National Park on Borneo. Photo credit: FNPF

Rainforest Action Network believes that Indigenous peoples are the best stewards of the world’s rainforests and that frontline communities organizing against the extraction and burning of dirty fossil fuels deserve the strongest support we can offer. RAN established the Protect-an-Acre program to protect the world’s forests and the rights of their inhabitants by providing financial aid to traditionally under-funded organizations and communities in forest regions.

Indigenous and frontline communities suffer disproportionate impacts to their health, livelihood and culture from extractive industry mega-projects and the effects of global climate change. That’s why Protect-an-Acre provides small grants to community-based organizations, Indigenous federations and small NGOs that are fighting to protect millions of acres of forest and keep millions of tons of CO2 in the ground.

Our grants support organizations and communities that are working to regain control of and sustainably manage their traditional territories through land title initiatives, community education, development of sustainable economic alternatives, and grassroots resistance to destructive industrial activities.

Bayu Teaching
Indonesia's Friends of the National Parks Foundation staff educate children about interacting with wildlife around Tanjung Puting National Park on Borneo. Photo credit: FNPF

PAA is an alternative to “buy-an-acre” programs that seek to provide rainforest protection by buying tracts of land, but which often fail to address the needs or rights of local Indigenous peoples. Uninhabited forest areas often go unprotected, even if purchased through a buy-an-acre program. It is not uncommon for loggers, oil and gas companies, cattle ranchers, and miners to illegally extract resources from so-called “protected” areas.

Traditional forest communities are often the best stewards of the land because their way of life depends upon the health of their environment. A number of recent studies add to the growing body of evidence that Indigenous peoples are better protectors of their forests than governments or industry.

Based on the success of Protect-an-Acre, RAN launched The Climate Action Fund (CAF) in 2009 as a way to direct further resources and support to frontline communities and Indigenous peoples challenging the fossil fuel industry.

Additionally, RAN has been a Global Advisor to Global Greengrants Fund (GGF) since 1995, identifying recipients for small grants to mobilize resources for global environmental sustainability and social justice using the same priority and criteria as we use for PAA and CAF.

Through these three programs each year we support grassroots projects that result in at least:

  • 10,000 acres of forest, held in customary ownership by Indigenous groups, is entered into the process of securing official land title recognition, providing communities with legal grounds to protect their traditional territories.
  • 10,000 trees planted, often as buffer zones around protected areas and/or as part of income and resource-generating permaculture projects that help stop land degradation.