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Rainforest Alliance Builds on Decade of Development Work in Nicaragua with New $3.6M Grant from USAID

New York, New York, Oct. 27 - /EWire/ -- The Rainforest Alliance has received a $3.6 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to build on a decade of sustainable development work the organization has coordinated in forestry, agriculture and tourism in Nicaragua. Over the next three years, the Rainforest Alliance will use the grant to work with coffee and banana farmers, indigenous community foresters, and owners of hotels and lodges, promoting environmentally and socially responsible practices and helping them work toward internationally recognized certification standards. "We have made big strides in the past few years promoting sustainable economic growth in Nicaragua through trade and business development while protecting the country's ecological wealth and improving livelihoods," said Jaime Guillen, head of forestry in the Rainforest Alliance's Nicaragua office. "This grant will allow us to step up our development work in a country facing great challenges but even greater opportunities." Forestry The Rainforest Alliance's TREES program has been working in Nicaragua with indigenous communities on sustainable forest management. This work is critical in a country where illegal logging is commonplace and deforestation is on the rise. In fact, the exploitation of forestlands is such a grave problem that the government passed a law in June that bans practically all logging for the next 10 years. The law prohibits the logging of six wood species and the exportation of unfinished lumber, but allows for other species to be exported if they are sent as finished wood products. Supporters say the law is needed to stop the hemorrhaging of forestlands caused by illegal logging and fueled by corruption, weak enforcement and legal loopholes. But some indigenous leaders, whose communities rely on forestlands for their livelihoods, have criticized the ban. They say the law hurts them while benefiting big companies that have the resources and machinery to create finished wood products for exportation. The Rainforest Alliance advocates responsible forest management to conserve the country's rich biodiversity while allowing communities to use their resources sustainably. We promote Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, which requires compliance with a rigorous set of environmental and social standards. The grant will give us a greater capacity to continue our work on education and outreach with community-based forest enterprises. Agriculture In Latin America, the Rainforest Alliance has certified more than 500,000 acres of farmland where coffee, bananas, cocoa, citrus, ferns and cut flowers are produced. Certified farms meet a set of environmental and social standards, including agro-chemical reduction, ecosystem conservation, and worker health and safety. In Nicaragua, we completed our first coffee farm certification on the Finca Selva Negra in 1997. Since then, we have certified 14 coffee farms and 8 banana farms on nearly 20,000 acres of land. The grant will allow us to promote the conservation of biological diversity while improving the competitiveness of small and medium-sized businesses. We plan to help 225 farmers reach certification, create a network for farmers to share their knowledge and innovations, and establish model farms and cooperatives for training. Tourism The Rainforest Alliance launched its sustainable tourism program in 1999. We provide owners of small hotels and lodges with training and help them develop skills and knowledge to use more sustainable practices. We also connect them to a third-party certification program and help them reach key markets and travelers around the world who want to make responsible travel choices. Using the grant, we plan to work with 500 tourism entrepreneurs in Nicaragua, providing training and technical assistance to help them be more sustainable and competitive. Within three years, we hope to have 50 small hotels and lodges using more sustainable practices. Contact Info: Gretchen Ruethling Tel : 646-452-1939 E-mail : Website : the Rainforest Alliance

For more information:

Gretchen Ruethling Tel : 646-452-1939 E-mail :


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