Cool Earth

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Founded 2007
Founders Johan Eliasch and Frank Field
Type NGO
Focus Environmentalism, Conservation, Ecology
Area served
Peru, Brazil, Ecuador
Method Collaboration
Key people
Johan Eliasch, Frank Field, Mark Ellingham
Slogan Working alongside indigenous villages to halt rainforest destruction

Cool Earth is a UK-based international NGO that protects endangered rainforest in order to combat global warming, protect ecosystems and to provide employment for local people.[1][2]

The organisation receives its income through business partnerships, trust funds and individual contributions from over 50,000 sponsors in order to secure specific tracts of endangered rainforest.[3] Through the Cool Earth website, an individual can sponsor an acre or half-acre of rainforest or adopt a single tree.[4] Less than 10% of Cool Earth's supporter income is spent on administration.[5]

Cool Earth is supported by notable people and organisations including Professor James Lovelock, Vivienne Westwood,[6][7] Pamela Anderson, Ricky Gervais, David Attenborough, Lily Cole, Kate Moss, Sadie Frost, Stella Tennant, Ian Hislop, Professor Lord Stern, Tracy Chevalier, Jo Brand, Philip Pullman, Dr John Hemming and The Co-operative Bank.[8]


Cool Earth was founded in 2007 by entrepreneur Johan Eliasch and MP Frank Field out of their common interest in protecting the rainforest. They argued that it was unacceptable that the 20% of carbon emissions created by tropical deforestation[9] were ignored by the Kyoto protocol and that urgent, direct action was needed to put a stop to deforestation, lest it take up to twenty years to get an idea adopted by the political bureaucracy.[10]


Cool Earth's ethos is that the most effective custodians of rainforests are the people that have lived there for countless generations as they have the most to lose from its destruction. Their approach is to work with indigenous rainforest-based communities to secure threatened rainforest that, within 18 months or less, would otherwise be sold to loggers and ranchers. The charity provides local people with the support they need to get income from the forest without cutting it down so that the forest is worth more intact. This is done by concentrating on three key areas, these are:

  • Forest Protection
  • Income Generation
  • Partner Support

The provision of resources for these areas enables the building of sustainable livelihoods, better schools, better clinics and the empowerment of partner villages to monitor their forest and secure it from illegal logging. This simplistic model used by Cool Earth has been described as "simple but so intelligent" by the times journalist Deborah Ross.[11]

The charity is currently working alongside 113 rainforest villages in Peru and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and previously worked with communities in Brazil and Ecuador, so far helping to protect over 500,000 acres of forest.[12] The charity argues that to be selected each project must fulfill the following criteria:

  • They are located where rainforest is immediately threatened by human activities like logging and cattle ranching;
  • Their location or their conservation acts as a protective blockade for the forest beyond them, ensuring optimum protection of forests;
  • They are mature rainforests with high levels of biodiversity.[13]

In Peru the charity is working with two indigenous communities at the frontline of deforestation, the Ashaninka and the Awajún.

Cool Earth has been partnered with villages in the Ashaninka community since 2008,[14] after they contacted the charity desperate to be able to turn them away despite living below the poverty line. The project has expanded to 14 other Ashaninka villages and the support from Cool Earth has enabled the villages to carry out activities such as strengthen register community associations, demarcate their community borders, carry out voluntary patrols, enable emergency evacuations, establish a cacao and coffee producers association, provide mosquito nets for every villager, build medical outposts and improve primary schools.

The partnership with the Awajún villages in Northern Peru, near the Ecuadorian border is aiming to protect 56,000 acres of forest. The key activities being supported are the development of cacao production, fish farms and traditional jewellery. The jewellery producers use seeds harvested from the rainforest and their work has inspired Vivienne Westwood’s Gold Label Collection and featured in her Paris fashion show.[15]

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the charity has been working since 2014 with five indigenous villages in the remote province of Maniema. Here civil war has resulted in the people living in extreme poverty.[16] So far Cool Earth has helped improve the villages rights over their forest through training of local people in GPS mapping and plotting 600,000 acres of community forest.[17]


The Brazilian TV show Fantástico accused Cool Earth of buying up rainforest land.[18] The charity refutes this, clarifying that sponsoring rainforest is not the same as buying it and that money donated to the charity goes toward helping local communities to protect rainforest land.[19]

A column in the Guardian concluded that "The reality is that the organisation could not buy up the Amazon, even if it wanted to, since much of it is already in public hands."[20]

Importance of Rainforests[edit]

Rainforest destruction contributes to climate change. It accounts for more CO2 emissions than the entire transport sector.[21] In this way, rainforests play a fundamental role in keeping carbon locked away. Carbon stocks equivalent to more than a decade of global fossil fuel emissions are stored in the wood of the Amazon’s trees.[22] and it is estimated that the rise in CO2 in the past would have been 10% faster without the tropical forest carbon sink.[23]

Deforestation has a doubly-damaging effect on climate change: it not only releases into the atmosphere the carbon once contained in forest trees but also reduces the number of trees that can recover the carbon dioxide that humans produce.[24]

Rainforests provide essential functions beyond their carbon storage. They provide a home to 350 million people[25] and to two thirds of all living species on the planet. 90% of primates are found in tropical rainforest.[26] They also store water, generate rainfall and help to stabilize soil.[27]


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  10. ^ UngoedThomas, Jon (2006-10-08). "Log on to buy a bit of the Amazon". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
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  25. ^ World Bank (2004) Sustaining Forests: A development strategy, World Bank, Washington DC
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  27. ^ Andrew Mitchell, Katherine Secoy, Niki Mardas, Mandar Trivedi and Rachel Howard, Forests Now in the Fight against Climate change, Forest Foresight Report 1.v3, Global Canopy Programme, November 2008

External links[edit]