ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images
The fires sweeping through Brazil’s rainforests are prompting an international outcry, with G-7 countries promising $20 million in aid and a nonprofit backed by actor Leonardo DiCaprio pledging another $5 million toward the cause.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced the G-7 aid package, saying that the Amazon represents the “lungs” of the planet, the Associated Press reported.
Satellites have recorded more than 41,000 fires in the Amazon region so far this year — with more than half of those coming this month alone, the AP said. Experts say most of the fires are set by farmers or ranchers clearing existing farmland, according to the AP.
After a record-breaking 2017, charitable giving by individual Americans fell last year to an estimated $292.09 billion, a 1.1% decline between 2017 and 2018, according to Giving USA, an annual report on philanthropy released in June.
However, fueled in part by media attention to climate change, giving to environmental causes was on the rise in 2018, with contributions to environmental and animal organizations increasing 3.6% between 2017 and 2018, to $12.70 billion, it added. In fact, contributions to environmental and animal organizations in 2018 totaled the highest inflation-adjusted value since the Giving USA report started in 1956.
Want to help too, but don’t know where to start? Charity experts recommend first doing some research to see which nonprofits are most effective. Here are five charities that have been deemed worth your dollar by the charity rating services CharityNavigator and CharityWatch.
Rainforest Action Network This San Francisco-based group is accepting donations for its “protect an acre” program, which has given money to local groups and activists in Brazil since 1993. RAN accepts donations of stock and cryptocurrency, and reminds donors to check whether their employers will match donations. RAN also recommends donating to another nonprofit , Amazon Watch.
Rainforest Trust Founded in 1988, this group buys land to save it from deforestation and development and to preserve habitat. Its previous campaigns have included raising $100,000 to buy 1,992 acres of rainforest to help protect the Southern Woolly Spider Monkey.
Amazon Conservation Association says its focuses on preventing fires by partnering with local landowners to implement sustainable forestry practices. “Continuous uncontrolled fires of this scale will bring the forest closer to an irreversible tipping point — a degree of deforestation at which the Amazon basin will no longer be able to generate its own rainfall and will become a fire-prone savanna,” ACA says on its website . “Some estimates place the level of deforestation needed to reach this tipping point at 20% to 25%. Current deforestation is at 17%.”
Rainforest Alliance This nonprofit works with local communities as well as companies, and certifies businesses that engage in sustainable practices. In just two days last week, this New York and Netherlands-based group raised $310,670 for five “Brazilian organizations on the front lines of the fight to protect the Amazon and the human rights of the Indigenous people who live there,” the group said on its Facebook /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB -0.88% page.
Rainforest Foundation U.S. This group is gladly accepting donations, but it points out that there are steps people can take to help the rainforest without donating money. They include avoiding products that contain palm oil. It’s commonly found in processed foods and harvesting it contributes to deforestation. Shoppers can also seek out products that have been certified as sustainable by rainforest conservation groups like the Rainforest Alliance .