This year, we shifted our efforts slightly and BAM now provides funding for Synchronicity Earth's More than Carbon Programme. This program supports impactful on the ground conservation action for three partners: Tesoro Escondido Reserve (Ecuador), Hutan (Malaysian Borneo), and Instituto Jurua (Brazil). In the coming months, it will also contribute to support two new partners: Mabuwaya Foundation (the Philippines), and Comissão Guarani Yvyrupa (Brazil).
BAM’s funding also allows Synchronicity Earth to further develop and expand the More than Carbon Programme, helping to bring more funders on board to channel greater resources towards protecting some of Earth's most precious but threatened regions and species. As well as, supporting local communities on the ground, and helping to tackle climate change by championing and developing nature-based carbon solutions.
Synchronicity Earth was founded 12 years ago by Adam and Jessica Sweidan. The aim of this small but impactful UK-based environmental charity is to protect and restore nature in wildlife-rich regions across the globe, developing core conservation programmes, and building long-term partnerships with community-led organizations on the ground. By combining the most up to date conservation science with local knowledge and expertise, Synchronicity Earth channels impactful funding and support to regions, ecosystems, and species that often fall under the radar of larger wildlife charities and NGOs.
With its links to the finance sector (Adam Sweidan is co-founder and Chief Investment Officer of Aurum Research Limited, a specialist investment manager), one strand of Synchronicity Earth’s work involves building strong partnerships with financial firms. These partnerships enable companies to fund work to protect and restore nature that goes beyond many, more traditional carbon offsetting schemes to address local environmental and social needs in addition to carbon storage.
Working with its network of scientific advisers and informed by experience with a wide range of conservation partners on the ground, the research team at Synchronicity Earth has identified key overlooked and underfunded conservation priorities, developing six core programmes to address these gaps:
Amphibians: The most threatened group of vertebrate species on Earth. 40% of amphibians are at risk of extinction, mostly due to habitat loss and disease. Declines in amphibian populations are often an indicator of wider declines in the terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems that support them.
Asian Species: Southeast Asia is a region of extraordinary but highly threatened biodiversity. Around 30% of mammals are listed as threatened in the region, which faces unusually high levels of threat compared with other regions of high biodiversity.
Congo Basin: Home to Earth's second largest rainforest, supporting the livelihoods of 40 million people, the Congo Basin is extremely vulnerable to unsustainable industrial exploitation and lacks conservation attention or support. Supporting Indigenous Peoples and local communities to protect their land and culture is key to protecting this precious ecosystem.
Freshwater: The world's conservation 'Cinderella issue'. Freshwater ecosystems, which we all depend on, are some of the most biodiverse and productive on Earth, yet they receive very little conservation funding and attention.
Flourishing Diversity: 80% of our planet's remaining biodiversity lies in lands owned or managed by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs). This programme supports and promotes a greater role for IPLCs in managing their territories, defending their cultures, and sharing their biocultural knowledge and practice.
High and Deep Seas: Marine conservation for the High and Deep Seas - the areas of the ocean that are out of sight and out of mind for many people - is often overlooked. Supporting work to tackle threats such as destructive and unsustainable overfishing and promoting local community managed marine protected areas is vital yet underfunded work.
Alongside these core conservation programmes, Synchronicity Earth’s More than Carbon Programme is specifically designed to appeal to businesses looking to have a more positive impact on nature. All the partners supported through this programme carry out projects which bring multiple benefits:
- For climate - protecting intact forest and other carbon-rich ecosystems reduces carbon emissions, while restoring nature increases natural carbon storage capacity;
- For nature - protecting species and their habitats where they are most at risk in some of the most wildlife-rich regions of our planet; and
- For people - creating positive benefits for local communities through economic and educational opportunities, gender empowerment, organisational development, and promoting and supporting civil society.
Partner Profile: Tesoro Escondido Reserve, the Chocó rainforest, northwest Ecuador
Work at the Tesoro Escondido Reserve focuses on protection, research, engagement, and reforestation in one of the few remaining areas of primary forest in northwest Ecuador.
Synchronicity Earth has supported this work since 2017, helping to establish a 2,000-hectare reserve in the Chocóan rainforest, a key habitat for the Critically Endangered brown-headed spider monkey. This reserve is now home to half the global population of this species (the most recent count is about 130 in the reserve).
It has been estimated that the above ground biomass in the Reserve contains around 153 tons of carbon per hectare, compared to the average for the average of 100 tons per hectare in that region, many of which have been partly depleted by logging.
The holistic approach of the team at Tesoro Escondido involves working closely with the communities living around the reserve. In 2018, a pilot programme was launched to establish an agroecological plot in one of the local villages. The aim of this work was to empower local communities - and particularly local women - to be able to produce their own food. This project was extremely well received, and the original plot now covers an area of 550 m2 and additional plots have been set up throughout the town. This is a project that Tesoro Escondido is keen to expand and develop further in the region.
The Tesoro Escondido team also works with local community members to restore key areas of degraded habitat. To date the team has planted over 13,000 seedlings, all from native species in the reserve, over 24 hectares of land, placing a special focus on planting tree species which are valuable for the threatened fauna in the reserve. The team is now seeking to expand their reforestation work to cover other degraded areas of the forest.