Northern Ecuador’s Cofán people struggle to protect the rainforest, organize an innovative park ranger program

Jul 19, 2011 | 0 comments

The Fundación para la Sobrevivencia del Pueblo Cofán (FSC) and its US-based branch The Cofan Survival Fund have launched a new fundraising campaign, "The Campaign for 5000" to support the one-of-a-kind Cofán Ranger Park Guard program. The Cofan Ranger Park Guard Program, created and managed by the indigenous Cofán people of Northern Ecuador, has been responsible for the successful protection of over one million acres of some of the most biodiverse forests in the world.

The Cofans have lived in northern Ecuador for thousands of years. Within the past 100 years, they have seen most of their lands taken by settlers, oil companies and the Ecuadorian government.

The impressively varied Cofán Ancestral Territories, ranging in altitude from 300 to over 14,000 feet above sea level, are the frequent targets of poaching, illegal logging, mining, and large-scale oil extraction, all of which threaten the integrity of these globally-important ecosystems as well as the Cofán culture itself. In response, FSC established the Cofán Ranger Park Guard Program in 2002. This program currently consists of over 60 Cofán men and women who patrol and maintain hundreds of miles of trails within their territories. Their duties also include monitoring and recording the presence of important and endangered animal species such as tapir, jaguar and the Andean mountain bear, to keep tabs on ecosystem health and integrity.

Satellite imagery of the Northern Ecuador region over the last decade clearly demonstrates how the rainforests under Cofán protection have remained wholly intact while the surrounding forests have undergone rapid destruction.

The Cofán Ranger Park Guard Program is responsible for halting deforestation in this critical region of high biodiversity. Maintaining intact forests also prevents the release of CO2 emissions that lead to global warming. A recent study sponsored by The Nature Conservancy estimates that by preventing deforestation, the Cofán Ranger Park Guard Program keeps over 90,000 metric tons of carbon from being released to the atmosphere each year, thus making a significant contribution towards mitigating global climate change.

The Cofán people are using this new information to support their new fundraising strategy, "The Campaign for 5000." This new model of grassroots conservation seeks to create a partnership of a minimum of 5,000 members worldwide who will contribute $10 or more per month to the Cofán Ranger Park Guard Program. This small, monthly, U.S. tax-deductible donation will make an enormous contribution towards sustaining the vital conservation work of the Cofán Ranger Park Guard Program by covering ranger salaries, food, transportation, training & capacity building and field equipment. And in doing so, each $10/month collaborator will offset approximately 60% of their annual carbon emissions that result from their transportation, food production, and manufacturing of personal possessions. Perhaps even more impressive, each $10/month donation is responsible for preserving over 2,000 acres of some of the high biodiversity forests in the world.

"Not only does the Cofán Ranger Park Guard Program benefit the global community by reducing harmful greenhouse gas production through its prevention of deforestation, but it also serves other critical functions such as rainforest species protection and the preservation of the Cofán culture, both of which are currently at a high risk of extinction," states Randy Borman, a Cofán leader and executive director of FSC and the Cofán Survival Fund.

"It is with great pleasure that my wife and I have chosen to support the Campaign for 5000. A few years ago, a stay at the Cofán community of Zabalo convinced us that contributing financially to the Cofan Survival Fund would be one of the most worthwhile ways of targeting our charitable donations… The Campaign for 5000 provides needed resources for work that is vitally important not only to the Cofán, but also to Ecuador, and the global community. We encourage the support of this program," offered Ted Pidduck, a recent donor from Richmond, VA.

To learn more about the Cofán culture, the Cofan Ranger Park Guard Program, and the Campaign for 5000, visit:

Founded in 1999, the Fundación para la Sobrevivencia del Pueblo Cofan (Cofan Survival Fund) is a non-profit organization with Cofán leadership dedicated to the survival of the Cofán indigenous culture and its Amazonian rainforest environment (

The Fundación para la Sobrevivencia del Pueblo Cofan (FSC) is committed to biodiversity conservation and research, protecting Cofan ancestral territory and its natural resources, developing environmentally sound income alternatives, and educating the youngest Cofan generation.

The Cofan Survival Fund (CSF) is the US branch of the FSC, an incorporated 501(c)(3) non-profit organization set up to receive and administrate all donations made from abroad. The administrative costs for the both the FSC and the CSF are extremely low, and every effort is made to channel all funding received directly into our projects, whether that be tuition fees for a young Cofan studying in Quito or the buying food for our Park Guard Ranger program.

The Founder and Executive Director of the FSC is Randy Borman. Randy was born in the Cofan village of Dureno and grew up hunting, fishing, speaking Cofan and living as any young Cofan does, while simultaneously learning English and "western" values from his American missionary parents. His education has been a mix of ancient Cofan knowledge of the forest and jungle life with a western academic education. Randy is considered one of the Cofan Nation's most important and respected leaders by the Cofan themselves. He is also a recognized leader of Ecuadorian environmental and conservation related issues, and continues to work closely with various national and international non-governmental organizations.

For more information contact:
Randy Borman
coordinationfsc at gmail dot com
(593-2) 247-4763 (Ecuador)
(352) 505-2426 (U.S.)

Credit: San Francisco Chronicle,


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