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Reviving Rainforests: Your Help is Needed

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Protecting and restoring the world's rainforests is critical to preserve biodiversity. Tropical forests are teeming with life -- covering just about 6 percent of the earth's surface they are home to between half and three quarters of all plant and animal species in the world.

Last year, NRDC launched its Revive a Rainforest campaign to restore forests in Costa Rica -- known around the world for its impressive biodiversity. With the help and generosity of our many online supporters, the first stage of our Revive a Rainforest campaign was a true success. This past summer our partner, CATIE, finished planting 30,000 young trees on their land in Costa Rica's lush Central Valley. Following Peter Lehner's trip to plant the first trees, I also visited our new forest in June and -- despite some tropical rain -- was happy to see how the young trees are taking root.

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The trees are restoring degraded land that was used as cattle pastures and will help bring back some of Costa Rica's unique wildlife. During my visit I met one of CATIE's scientists, who explained how as the trees grow, we'll be able to see bird-life increase and change, until the site is once more a habitat for colorful forest species. Our members' forest will help connect other forested areas on CATIE's land and as the trees mature we hope that small cats like ocelots will also increase their habitats by passing through our forest.

Recently, NRDC identified yet another area in Costa Rica in need of protection and restoration. The Osa Peninsula, the most biodiverse region in the country, is home to half of Cost Rica's approximately 500,000 plant and animal species. Unfortunately, the Osa's incredible wildlife is under pressure from expanding development.

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In partnership with Friends of the Osa, another local group committed to preserving Costa Rica's natural resources, NRDC is moving forward with a new reforestation project. With the continued help of our members and online supporters we plan to plant 25,000 native trees to revive land in the Osa that was degraded as cattle pasture and exotic species plantations. The land is owned by our partners and forms a critical part of a conservation corridor and buffer zone connected to Corcovado's National Park. This new reforestation project will recreate habitat for the Osa's endangered wildlife, including howler monkeys, scarlett macaws and jaguars. The project will also help renew the water supply for downstream communities.

Like our first reforestation project with CATIE, this project will also help fight global warming by sequestering carbon emissions. Tropical forests play a key role in fighting global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide. NRDC has been working with Costa Rica to help it achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2021. The trees our supporters help us plant will play a role in reducing Costa Rica's overall emissions in a manner that also enhances biodiversity.

You can learn more about our new project on the NRDC site and about how you too can help Revive a Rainforest.

Photos by Jacob Scherr

This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.