We are excited to announce our new collaboration with The Great Elephant Migration. From July this year, 100 life-sized elephant sculptures will migrate across the United States on a year-long journey. The migration will be an astonishing piece of activism, telling stories of coexistence and raising funds and awareness for wildlife conservation. All proceeds from the sale of elephant sculptures are donated to NGOs delivering human-wildlife coexistence projects; TENT is proud to be selected for our collaborative efforts to save Italy’s Marsican brown bear from extinction.

Most of us want to save wildlife, but with more than 7 billion humans on Earth, we have less and less space to do so. Habitat degradation along with climate change, our growth and ever-increasing consumption has inevitably put us into contact with wild animals. Human-wildlife conflict directly impacts animals and global conservation goals, as well as businesses and communities. When humans coexist with and avoid persecuting wildlife in our communities, we safeguard ecosystem health, agricultural stability, food security, and the creation of new sustainable economies such as eco-tourism. Coexistence with wildlife is essential for all life, humans and animals alike.

What is the Great Elephant Migration?

A global fundraising adventure to amplify indigenous knowledge and inspire the human race to share space with wildlife. Launching in summer 2024, this 1-year campaign will see 100 magnificent life-size Indian elephants migrate across the USA to share their story with the world. A collaboration between indigenous artisans, contemporary artists and cultural institutions, it will raise millions of dollars to power human-wildlife coexistence projects and protect migratory animals making spectacular journeys across land, rivers and oceans. 

The exhibit is being delivered by Elephant Family USA, a conservation charity whose mission is to harness the power of creativity and storytelling to inspire and enable human populations to share space with wildlife.

What is the impact?

Sustainable indigenous enterprise

The creation of the elephant sculptures provides financial stability, status and pride to 200 members of the Soliga, Bettakurumba, Kattunayakan and Paniya communities, who coexist with the real wild elephants the herd is based on.

Human-wildlife coexistence

Each elephant is twinned with a conservation NGO whose work directly benefits from its sale, to power coexistence projects. Every elephant that finds a permanent home will generate between $7,500 and $20,000 for wildlife conservation NGOs, while giving sustainable livelihoods to indigenous communities.

Invasive species removal

Each elephant is made from Lantana camara, one of the world’s top invasive weeds, which has entangled 40% of South India’s Protected Areas, and diminished food sources for herbivores. Invasive species pose a serious threat to global biodiversity and are a significant driver in 60% of plant and animal extinctions.

Carbon sequestration

The Great Elephant Migration is supporting a large-scale initiative to shred vast areas of invasive Lantana, the weed the elephants are made with, from India’s Protected Areas and convert it into biochar. By the end of 2025, the project will have sequestered 2625 tons of carbon and created more than 500 jobs for indigenous communities through this effort.

Coming soon to the United States!

Who makes the sculptures?

Each elephant in the 100-strong herd has been meticulously crafted by The Coexistence Collective, a community of 200 indigenous Indian artisans from the Bettakurumba, Paniya, Kattunayakan, and Soliga tribes. The Collective has spent the past five years bringing to life every elephant they live alongside in the Nilgiri Hills, in intricately detailed sculptural form. Like many indigenous cultures around the world, these communities have extensive knowledge of nature and wildlife based on generations of observation and experience.

What are they made from?

The elephants are made from lantana camara, one of the worldʼs top invasive weeds. This fast growing, noxious shrub has a stranglehold on 300,000sq. kilometres of Indiaʼs Protected Areas. Lantana pushes animals out of their forest homes into urban areas leading to an increase in human-wildlife conflict. The use of lantana to create the elephants and other quality products, helps remove the weed from protected areas, leaving wildlife more space to roam.

Supporting coexistence with Italy's bears

As a partner in the project, TENT has an elephant in the herd, called Amarena. She represents the story of Italy’s Marsican brown bear, of which just 60 remain. Amarena was a famous Italian bear, tragically killed by a hunter in September 2023.

During her journey, Amarena the elephant will help tell the story of Italy's critically endangered, endemic bear. Her story will be amplified at the exhibition, in the resulting press, and through the Elephant matriarchy – a collective of female leaders who together, broadcast the stories of human-wildlife coexistence. Proceeds from the sale of Amarena – which can be made to an edition of 10 sculptures – will be allocated to TENT to help save the bear from extinction in partnership with Salviamo l'Orso.

In Italy’s wild heart, the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park, the critically endangered Marsican bear makes its home, mostly living peacefully in the beech forests of the Apennine mountains. Our project partners at Salviamo l’Orso – working in collaboration with municipalities, local Protected Areas, Rewilding Apennines, and the EU LIFE programme – are working to foster coexistence with the bears, while encouraging their dispersal through five key corridor areas, below.

buy an elephant, support conservation

If you would like to support conservation efforts, you are welcome to purchase an elephant sculpture. Amarena can be made to an edition of 10, with proceeds allocated to our work to save Italy's critically endangered Marsican bear from extinction.
buy an elephant

What is the matriarchy?

Elephant families are matriarchal; each herd is led by an older, experienced female. She is the wise decision maker, the fierce protector, the compassionate guide and caregiver. 

Every elephant in the herd is twinned with a matriarch: a diverse range of brilliant women including environmentalists, activists, writers, creatives and more. The twinning of a woman of power to each elephant will bring attention to the issue of human-wildlife coexistence, using their platforms to amplify the elephant's stories.

Meet some of the matriarchs

Dates & Locations

Wampanoag Territory | July & August 2024

Lenape Territory | September & October 2024

Tequesta, Calusa, Miccosukee and Seminole Territories | December 2024

Shoshone-Bannock, Apsaalooké (Crow), Eastern Shoshone, and Cheyenne May & June 2025

Tongva, Tataviam, Serrano, Kizh, and Chumash Territories July 2025

We believe education is a fundamental building block of conservation and consciousness. An integral part of this vision is the professionally managed five-day school residential programme at Alladale Wilderness Reserve, supported by The European Nature Trust. This initiative is run in partnership with Inverness-based outdoor charity Àban, and offers local children a chance to immerse in the wild, building new experiences, friendships and inspiration.

By Kate Heightman, Outreach Manager

For the past six weeks, more than 120 schoolchildren have enjoyed transformational experiences in the wilds of Scotland's pioneering rewilding project at Alladale Wilderness Reserve. TENT, in partnership with Àban, created a programme of activities and learning sessions designed to connect the links between the development of landscapes, ecosystems, and human exploitation of natural resources. Attending children learned how this has resulted in the current climate and biodiversity crises, and how nature recovery can restore equilibrium in the natural processes that our continued existence depends upon.

Students from Golspie Academy ascend along Glen Mor

During the five days of the course, we travelled by foot into remote parts of the Reserve, where children witnessed the open glens and hilltops that are the legacy of hundreds of years of deforestation, and explored the restored forests where nature is growing ever richer. In smaller groups, they took part in mountain bike expeditions to sites provoking discussion on everything from ecology to energy generation. Meanwhile, simultaneous sessions taught the children how to read the landscape from ordinance survey maps, orient themselves using compasses, and how to safely use sharp knives and kindle fires. One of the most popular activities involved dissecting owl pellets – regurgitated balls of fur and bone, to see if they could construct a complete skeleton from the prey of that nocturnal raptor.

Venison was on the menu (thanks to Ardgay Game) and we used this moment to discuss food security and sustainability; we required the children to practice water conservation and be more conscious of the waste they produce and its disposal; and we showed them Why Not Scotland – a documentary about projects to protect and reintroduce species across Europe, and what’s being done to reverse nature depletion in Scotland (thanks to SCOTLAND: the Big Picture).

Inner journeys are important too, and we facilitated reflection, meditation, and mindfulness; supported individuals to rise to challenges and experience personal achievement; and celebrated our own love for the outdoors, our passion to prevent the loss of any further species, and how our mental health is connected to, and benefits from, time in nature. There’s no WiFi or phone network out in the wilds, and yes, some children even said it was a relief to get a break from their phones. Their final night was spent in hammocks, lulled to sleep by the sway of ancient Caledonian pines in the breeze, and awakened by an orchestra of birds before they returned to their everyday lives.

Every child deserves to experience nature and understand they are part of it, to cherish it, and ensure they have a future of abundance in all things

"I loved learning new things like navigation, about animals, making better and stronger friendships and being outside"
- Pupil, Dornoch Academy

"I liked reaching the top of the mountain and seeing the view. It really is such a beautiful place."
- Pupil, Dingwall Academy

"There can come a time in your life when you feel like everything you’ve ever worked for has prepared you and led you to that point. Finally, it all clicks into place and becomes something more than the sum of the parts. That’s how I feel having just completed the delivery of six weeks of school residentials with Àban Adventure Leaning Community at Alladale Wilderness Reserve in the Highlands."

Kate Heightman, TENT Outreach Manager

Funding and delivery of the Alladale Wilderness Experience is provided by The European Nature Trust, and held in partnership with Àban.

discover more and enquire

If you'd like to learn more about Alladale Wilderness Experience, and how your school can join next year's programme, contact Kate, TENT's Outreach Manager – kate@theeuropeannaturetrust.com
Discover more on the AWE programme

TENT is a member of the Scottish Rewilding Alliance – a collective of organisations working to build support for Scotland to become the first ‘Rewilding Nation’. On 20th June, we’re hosting the London Premiere of a new documentary, Why Not Scotland? 100% of proceeds will be allocated to rewilding projects. This is your opportunity to join a movement, meet new connections in the rewilding world and beyond, and positively contribute to the recovery of nature.

More than 2% of Scotland’s land is now rewilding according to new figures from the Scottish Rewilding Alliance, as it launches a Rewilding Nation Charter calling for Scotland to declare itself the world’s first rewilding nation. A certain celebrity, Leonardo DiCaprio, described it on Instagram.

Despite growing praise for its rewilding progress, Scotland remains one of the most nature-depleted countries on Earth. The new Charter says rewilding offers hope for restoring habitats and saving wildlife, with major benefits for people, but much more needs to be done.

The Alliance is urging people from all walks of life to sign the Rewilding Nation Charter which calls on the Scottish Government to commit to nature recovery across 30% of land and sea.

The campaign includes a new feature-length film called Why Not Scotland?, which explores how rewilding could happen on a bigger scale in the country. TENT has co-funded the production, and will be hosting the London Premiere on 20th June at the Marylebone Theatre – with all proceeds allocated to rewilding projects through SCOTLAND: The Big Picture. Tickets include admission, food, alcoholic and soft drinks – your opportunity to connect with those in the rewilding movement and beyond, while directly supporting nature recovery.

Why rewilding? “Climate breakdown and nature loss mean we face an unprecedented threat to our way of life and our children’s future. But it’s not too late. Scotland can lead the way as a Rewilding Nation to benefit nature, climate and people,” said Steve Micklewright, Scottish Rewilding Alliance Convenor and Chief Executive of Trees for Life.

Scotland is ranked 212 out of 240 countries and territories for the state of its nature, and 11% of its species face extinction. Intensive agriculture and climate breakdown are having the biggest impacts on biodiversity, according to the authoritative State of Nature 2023 report, with other threats including non-native forestry, pollution, and introduced species.

This is undermining access to food, fresh water and clean air. It is hampering efforts to lock away carbon, and harming people’s health and wellbeing, says the Scottish Rewilding Alliance.

But growing numbers of communities, charities, farmers and landowners are taking action to turn Scotland’s nature crisis around – helping society cope with climate breakdown’s floods, wildlife die-offs, droughts and crop failures, while creating jobs and economic opportunities. See Alladale Wilderness Reserve, north of Inverness; Highlands Rewilding on the shores of Loch Ness; WildLand in the Northern Highlands; the Northwoods Rewilding Network; Trees for Life at Dundreggan; and the ambitious Cairngorms Connect project.

In the first-ever such figures released, the Scottish Rewilding Alliance calculates 2.1% of Scotland’s land is now rewilding, with more than 150 projects covering at least 160,000 hectares, from community woodlands to landscape-scale partnerships. This includes members of Rewilding Britain’s UK-wide Rewilding Network, and the Scotland-wide Northwoods Rewilding Network, led by SCOTLAND: The Big Picture.

Rewilding 30% of Scotland can be achieved by restoring wild habitats including peatlands, native woodlands, wetlands, rivers and seas, with no loss of productive farmland. Rewilding goes hand-in-hand with nature-led farming, fishing and forestry, the Alliance says.

Produced by SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, the Why Not Scotland? film explores the Scottish landscape through the eyes of Flo Blackbourn, a young Scot from Glasgow, who sets out on a personal journey to find inspiring examples of major nature recovery around Europe.

“My journey to see how rewilding can help nature and people thrive together was life-changing and such a source of hope. Like many young people, I’m worried about the uncertain future we all face with climate breakdown and nature loss – but life can bounce back if we give it a chance, and work with nature instead of against it,” said Flo (age 27).

Your chance to directly support rewilding

By attending the London premiere of Why Not Scotland? on 20th June, you can directly contribute to rewilding projects, with 100% of ticket sales allocated to SCOTLAND: The Big Picture. Enjoy a cinematic evening, meet new connections, and enjoy a Scottish-themed evening of food, drinks and entertainment.
book your tickets

The Why Not Scotland? London Premiere is hosted by TENT, in support of SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, raising awareness, support and funding for rewilding in Scotland.

The Scottish Rewilding Alliance is a collaboration between like-minded organisations who share a mission to enable rewilding at a scale new to Scotland.

The approach embraces working in partnership with landowners, communities, interest groups and government to achieve a shared agenda that shapes the landscape.

Today, TENT has agreed its support of the NGO Fundación Oso Pardo for 2024. Together, we are financially supporting the conservation of the bears; our partnership will help support corridors of habitat enrichment to take place in the provinces of Asturias, Castilla y Leon, and Cantabria, while contributing to critical coexistence projects in communities living alongside bears.

A recovering bear population

Once widespread across the whole of Spain, the Cantabrian brown bear was hunted to a low of just 50–60 individuals in the early 1990s. Bear populations were eradicated in the south, and became restricted to the regions of Asturias, Cantabria and Castilla y León. 

However, as the conservation movement has grown in Spain, the bear was awarded protected status in 1973. Today, a network of protected natural parks has been established throughout the Cantabrian mountains, preserving key bear habitats. In the mid-1990s the Cantabrian bear population began a period of recovery that continues today, thanks to the tireless collaborations between NGOs – including Fundacion Oso Pardo and regional authorities – and now numbers an estimated 370 individuals.

Image: FOP, Asturias

Ecotourism opportunities allow international visitors the chance to see brown bears in their natural habitat; a phenomenon that has transformed the local municipalities and diversified income opportunities. The larger population today is formed of two subpopulations, the western and the eastern; until the beginning of the 21st century, the bears of both nuclei were almost completely isolated and there was no genetic exchange, but as the number of specimens has increased, connectivity has been re-established. Today, however, climate change is threatening the bears’ natural behaviors and habitats, while, coexistence between humans and bears presents an ongoing focus for conservation.

TENT is committed to supporting ‘living landscapes’ in Europe, where wild species perform their natural functions in ecosystems; where ecotourism provides a route to sustainable rural development; and where people and climate benefit from wild, healthy nature.

About Fundación Oso Pardo

FOP, a local conservation foundation, is dedicated to the conservation and scientific study of the brown bear. Since the population reached its nadir in the 1990s, FOP have helped the species to recover, and are now working to naturally expand the population.

TENT has a long standing relationship with FOP, and we continue to support as the bear population recovers more of its natural, historic range. To improve genetic exchange between the western and eastern populations, FOP's team is restoring critical habitat corridors with plantations of cherry, apple, alder, whitebeam and buckthorn. Volunteer-led recovery programs are improving social participation in conservation, and 'bear houses' and museums are providing centres for education and heritage. Led by science, FOP ecologists monitor bear movement and promote expansion of the species into more of their historic range. To improve coexistence, the organisation works with local communities to increase social acceptance of the brown bear as an ambassador for wild Spain.

LIFE projects

LIFE is the main financial instrument of the European Union to support community policies on the environment and biodiversity conservation. Without LIFE support, it would be difficult to rescue the brown bear from the critical danger of extinction it was in 30 years ago. However, the support of private foundations, businesses and individuals is a critical enabler of conservation, while allowing more ‘match funding’ to be drawn into the LIFE programmes. FOP has coordinated or participated in 11 LIFE projects to date, and currently coordinates the LIFE Bears with Future and LIFE Human Bears COEX projects.

LIFE Bears With Future

Climate prediction models foresee a 15% decrease in rainfall and an up to 4°C increase in temperature in the Cantabrian mountains by the end of the century. Similarly, regional climate change scenarios for Spain predict that by around 2040, winter temperatures in the high mountain areas will have risen by about 2°C. The scientific literature indicates that brown bears will become more active in winter, presenting changes to their natural behaviors.

In addition, bears’ diets are likely to shift. Some plant species particularly susceptible to climate change, such as the bilberry, have lost their significance in the Cantabrian brown bear diet, possibly due to the growing irregularity in their fruiting patterns, while others, including cherry and alder buckthorn, appear to have increased in importance. 

The general objective of the LIFE Bears with a Future project is to improve the adaptability of the brown bear to climate change in the Cantabrian Mountains. The project takes an ecosystem-based approach to enable resilience and favorable conservation status of Spain’s bears into the long-term. Key actions include: reforestation in bear habitat areas; plantation of fruit trees to support bear trophic availability; land purchase to develop conservation programmes to replenish chestnut and other key species in bear diets; restoration of abandoned forests; information dissemination and awareness building in communities; and more.

LIFE Human Bear COEX

As the bear population has increased, so too have negative interactions between bears and humans. Therefore, one of the most important challenges to promote coexistence is to foster the social conditions for coexistence, while avoiding the presence of bears, within, or very close to human settlements and their habituation to the presence of people.

Favourable coexistence between bears and humans in the municipalities with the highest density of bears in the Cantabrian Mountains, alongside training and reinforcing the role of local actors, is the primary focus of the LIFE Human Bear COEX project, co-ordinated by FOP. The involvement of local communities is at the heart of the project, as the 9 municipalities where it will be developed act as Partners: an uncommon level of local participation in a LIFE project.

Key actions include: Creation and training of local conflict prevention teams; optimising the planting of fruit trees away from human settlements; creating routes of information around bear presence to local communities; protection of domestic animals; pilot testing of bear-proof waste bins; radio tracking of ‘problem bears’; and more.

Connect with nature

The wild beating heart of northern Spain is home to a population of 350 bears, which live in harmony with the beech forests, rugged mountains, contributing to a rural economy for municipalities through ecotourism. If you are interested in sustainably exploring Asturias to watch bears in their natural environment, TENT's partnership with Steppes Travel offers a curated journey.

TENT is working with Scottish landowners on a pilot river catchment restoration project, seeking to create a template investment model to deliver native tree planting and peatland restoration.

We aim to work with landowners in the Scottish Highlands to design a river catchment restoration project, linking native woodland with peatland restoration in an ecosystem approach to river health. The experimental project will help create a financial and ecological blueprint for river catchment restoration, helping landowners overcome financial barriers to launching nature recovery projects.

Scotland has lost 97% native woodland cover, which has impacted the health and connectivity of our native habitats. Driven by anthropogenic warming and woodland cover loss, average river temperature is rising significantly, exposing Atlantic salmon populations to thermal stress. Over a temperature threshold of 23 degrees, salmon’s normal biological processes like reproduction, development and metabolism begin to break down. Today, Scotland is facing a real possibility of local extinction of the Atlantic salmon: catches in the Scottish Highlands reached an all-time low in 2022, representing just 75% of the five-year average. Scottish salmon were recently declared ‘Endangered’ under the IUCN Red List. With problems at sea, the scientific community is understanding the problems faced by salmon upstream, with salmon now returning on their annual migrations to habitats with diminished riparian woodland cover with an altered hydrology due to the surrounding landscape-use.

Salmon are an indicator species for the declining health of the broader freshwater ecosystems they inhabit. Moreover, they are a pillar of Highland culture and local employment, and their local extinction threatens the region’s cultural heritage and employment landscape.

Restoring woodland and peatland is a nature-based solution that benefits freshwater and terrestrial biodiversity, local people, and climate resilience. However, financial barriers often prevent many landowners from launching or permitting such projects to take place. Successful private investment, through the sale of ecosystem services like carbon sequestration and biodiversity gain, is essential to fill funding gaps associated with current governmental and philanthropic funding sources. In fact, the Global Finance Institutes estimates a finance gap of £20 billion to meet Scottish Government’s nature recovery targets in the next decade. Without proven models for private financing of nature with local community benefit and involvement built in, there is a far lower chance of meeting Scotland’s ambition.

Our project seeks to establish a novel financial mechanism for delivering scalable riparian woodland creation schemes with peatland restoration as part of a ‘river catchment restoration pilot’.

The restoration of woodland on riverbanks is a proven method to restore the ecosystems of our rivers. Trees provide critical nursery grounds for young salmon; the tree cover will shade and cool the water; while the revegetation of the riverbanks restores natural hydrological flows and stores carbon, as well as providing habitat and ecological corridors for invertebrates, birds and mammals. The naturalisation of river channels can also significantly improve the instream habitat conditions for spawning salmon, invertebrates, and wading birds.

If successful, our lighthouse project will provide an open-source blueprint for financing and execution, to be shared and adopted by landowners and managers across the Kyle of Sutherland catchment area (incorporating the Carron, Shin, Evelix, Cassley and Oykel rivers and the whole of the North Ross Deer Management Group). 

In creating a viable financial model, our project aims to demonstrate the shared benefits of nature recovery projects for those living in rural environments, in the form of improved ecosystem service provisioning, knowledge building, nature-based skills enhancement, community impact, and the generation of local employment for a just transition. 

The implementation phase will generate employment for third party contractors engaged in tree planting and peatland restoration work. In the long-term, employment will be generated through biodiversity and carbon monitoring as part of our commitment to the Woodland Carbon Code and Peatland Code standards. Through our community outreach programmes we will facilitate local ecological knowledge building and improve literacy and engagement with nature restoration projects. 

With financial support from The European Nature Trust, a new tree nursery is to be built in Ardgay to provide local provenance saplings for local tree planting projects.  Initially there will be a role for a nursery manager and as this venture grows there will be the potential to expand, employing more assistants. It will also employ local volunteers as part of the project delivery, providing meaningful engagement in nature recovery projects.

In the long-term, our project aims to improve freshwater and terrestrial biodiversity, increase carbon sequestration, restore natural hydrologic flows and boost natural flood defences, while improving key salmon habitats. Ultimately, this project will help to overcome financial barriers associated with current governmental and philanthropic financing streams, and thus scale up nature recovery for the benefit of all.

With gratitude

For the design phase of this project, TENT is supported by a development grant from the Facility for Investment Ready Nature Solutions (FIRNS) programme, run by Nature Scot and the National Heritage Lottery Fund. 

Belize is the exception to our European focus. And it’s for good reason: as the world rallies to bring forth a vision for the protection and restoration of biodiversity, a global mindset is required. Belize is creating a blueprint as a conservation leader in the Global South, with critical learnings for the international community.

A nation of just over 400,000 citizens, Belize has been protecting its ecosystems long before the UN’s commitment to protect 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030. With 40% of Belize’s lands and 28% of its waters already under legal protection, Belize is a little-known conservation powerhouse. Today, Belize is one of the world’s last strongholds of global biodiversity, with over 500 bird species, 150 mammals, 150 amphibians and reptiles, over 550 fish and more than 5,000 plant species. The nation’s commitment to this natural wealth is historical, threading ancient Mayan cultures, through to its independence from the British in 1981. The nation’s network of NGOs and government divisions are pioneering novel approaches to conservation, underpinned by a deep cultural connection to the nature that sustains all life on our planet.

Some 61% of Belize remains forested, and 43% are carbon-rich ‘primary forests’. For comparison, in the same region as Belize, Costa Rica – a nation internationally famed for its biodiversity and conservation ethos – has 46% forest cover. El Salvador has just 2% primary forest remaining, while Honduras has 13%. Moreover, through its network of protected areas, Belize has preserved connectivity between its forest regions, whereas globally, just 10% of protected areas are connected.

Images, Kevin Quischan: left, Deep River Reserve; right, Moho Caye.

In January 2024, TENT facilitated an immersive journey for 8 of the world’s best environmental writers to the heart of Belizean conservation.

The trip began in a critical block of forest in the country’s north. Located within a 30-million-acre tropical forest block called the Selva Maya, 236,000 acres of tropical forest have recently been protected here – a deal brokered with the support of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), now known as the Belize Maya Forest (BMF). Protecting the BMF alone will avoid more than an estimated 10 million tons of CO2 equivalent. The Nature Conservancy now has an agreement with the government of Belize to develop a carbon project in the BMF that will offer carbon credits on the international carbon market to businesses and other organizations to offset their emissions, allowing the forest to be protected in perpetuity. Journalists met Michael Bowen, Belizean entrepreneur and owner of the Gallon Jug Estate and Chan Chich Lodge; conservation powerhouse, Elma Kay, now Managing Director of the Belize Maya Forest Trust, guided journalists through the forest, to understand the importance of its preservation for the country’s future. 

We ventured onto the Rio Bravo Conservation Area, managed by Programme for Belize, which in 2001, pioneered one of the earliest ‘debt-for-nature’ swaps in partnership with the Belizean government and TNC. In the surrounding areas of Blue Creek, journalists got a glimpse of the industrial agriculture that threatens the continued protection of Belize’s forests.

Onwards to Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, a globally important wetland protected by the Belize Audubon Society. Guided by Amanda Acosta, Executive Director of Belize Audubon Society, journalists learned about Crooked Tree’s history and its global importance for bird migrations, water security and climate resilience.

Belize’s coastlines boast some of the most well-preserved mangrove, seagrass and coral reef ecosystems. Led by Executive Director Valdemar Andrade, Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association conducts day-and-night patrols of the largest atoll in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. In 2012, it was officially designated a Marine Reserve, and since then, TASA have been tightly regulating fishing pressure, empowering traditional fishermen as custodians of Belize’s marine biomes, while building diversified approaches to sustainable livelihoods.

Back on land, the group explored a critical thread of forest known as the Maya Forest Corridor, which connects the southern forests of the Maya Mountain Massif to those in the north, preserving connectivity with the trinational Selva Maya. We understood how organisations such as the Belize Zoo, Re:Wild, Wildlife Conservation Society and others are collaborating under a shared vision to preserve this thread of forest, saving it from agricultural clearances that are rapidly advancing in the region.

Further South at Silk Grass Farms, journalists saw a novel approach to nature preservation, ‘capitalism as if nature mattered’, as entrepreneurs Mandy Cabot and Peter Kjellerup describe it. In 2020, they endowed Silk Grass Wildlife Preserve — a 24,700-acre rainforest adjacent to Silk Grass Farm — with 30% shares of Silk Grass Farms & Enterprises, making the Preserve a key stakeholder in the performance of the farm and business and protecting the Preserve in perpetuity. 

Images: Kevin Quischan.

Down at the coastal village of Placencia, journalists spent time at Moho Caye with Lisa Carne and her team from Fragments of Hope, an organisation restoring coral reef and seabed ecosystems. An excursion with Marisa Tellez, Executive Director and co-founder of the Crocodile Research Coalition, helped journalists understand the challenges facing both the freshwater Morelet’s crocodile and the American saltwater crocodile.

At Red Bank, journalists were joined by Director of Friends for Conservation and Development, Rafael Manzanero, to understand the importance of forest health and connectivity for Belize’s most spectacular bird, the scarlet macaw. Later, the group ventured into the Toledo District to visit Jacob Marlin of the NGO BFREE, an NGO working to conserve the critically endangered Central American ‘hickatee’ river turtle. Here, heirloom cacao agroforestry is providing a sustainable crop, while maintaining forest health. 

All conservation in Belize is rooted in indigenous Mayan culture. In the Mayan Golden Landscape in the South, journalists spent time with Whitley-award winning Ya’axche Conservation Trust, learning how communities are being empowered as custodians of forests and savannas. At Payne’s Creek with TIDE, journalists understood how traditional practices of land management are helping to conserve a critical biological corridor that threads broadleaf forests and tropical savannas, out to coastal mangroves and seagrass ecosystems. 

By the end of the trip, a vision of hope for global biodiversity had formed. By visiting a network of protected areas, participating in conservation and learning first-hand from communities and NGOs, media guests left inspired to raise international awareness of the pivotal work Belize is carrying out on behalf of the planet.

With thanks to all the NGOs, businesses and communities that helped journalists experience and understand Belizean conservation.

Attending media and articles

The Guardian

Globe & Mail


Your chance to visit Belize and support NGOs

21st February – 1st March, 2025

Next year, in partnership with Journeys With Purpose, TENT is offering a conservation journey to discover Belize's secrets of conservation success. This journey is an immersion into the vast ecological wealth of Belize’s three biomes, where environmental leaders have long been marrying biodiversity protection with social impact, to experience the ambitious conservation projects contributing to Belize’s outstanding biodiversity.

This journey incorporates a 20% donation to four Belizean NGOs, enabling you to visit Belize consciously, with impact.

Discover More About Belize

TENT is working to connect people to this wonderful country, and efforts underway to protect it. If you would like to discover more, keep an eye out for the philanthropic production, Unknown Belize, which will soon be available on streaming services internationally.

Discover unknown Belize

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