Forest Fund

Our mission is to keep forest standing. Forest Fund is an online philanthropic platform that allows individuals and organizations to select a legally deforestable hectare and conserve it with an opportunity-cost payment to the landowner, much like paying them rent. Conservation buyers on our platform will receive monthly updated satellite images of "their" hectare(s) to confirm that the landowner is holding up their side of the deal. Rural producers will only receive their opportunity cost payment after proving that no forest has been cleared on their property. If any deforestation is detected, Forest Fund will report the landowner to environmental authorities and cease payments immediately.

Three factors now make this possible: the internet's ability to connect people and places around the world, advances in satellite imagery, and the georeferencing of all rural properties in Brazil. Crowdfunding continues to grow as a powerful agent of change. We are creating a channel for forest conservation that gives that kind of agency to a growing base of planet-conscientious individuals and organizations.

Our project begins in Juina, Brazil, a small municipality at the forefront of deforestation. Read more at:

What we do

OUR MISSION is to support protection of tropical biodiversity where preservation and conservation of natural ecosystems are critical to sustaining life on earth.  We address the needs of people and all inhabitants of tropical ecosystems through our work in economic sustainability, education, healthcare, social justice and scientific research. Great Wilderness is a California-based, international, non-profit, conservation organization.

  biodiversityCONSERVATION OF BIODIVERSITY: Six biological reserves protect 7500 ha of native forest in Ecuador (Galapagos Islands, Tropical Andes, Coast, Amazon) and Venezuela (the Llanos of Venezuela). (Read more)

susdevSUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The Fonmsoeam Center for Sustainable Development and Conservationis is an initiative to support small scale cacao farmers organizations by promoting sustainable farming practices, increasing revenues of farmers, and contributing to conservation of the natural resources in the Mache Chindul Ecological Reserve (REMACH). (read more)


masaguaral educationEDUCATION OUTREACH: The Natural History Courses in ecology and conservation basics cover primary and high schools to university level classes for adults of all ages.   (read more) 


healthHEALTH: The Community Health Project in rurals and indigenous communities seeks to promote health through community action, Reorienting Regional Health Services and Integrating and Sustaining Traditional Knowledge Systems. (Read more)


karlRESEARCH: Research in the temperate zones shows birds are reacting in different ways to climate change. Rising temperatures predict earlier egg laying, while farther south day length is the seasonal cue. Little is known about climate change and breeding cues in tropical birds…. (Read more...)




Interchanging Communities- Tour Itinerary


Interchanging Communities Project


roco macheteGreat Wilderness parrtmers with “Interchanging Communities (Intercambio Comunitario)”, a project  created in 2011 by Rocio Fernandez while she was conducting an internship on Great Wilderness’ behalf at Fonmsoeam, a community-based federation of cocoa farmers located in the Esmeraldas province of Ecuador. IC’s  major mission is to organize and bring together young people, Ecuadorian and international, to be leaders and volunteers, form interlinked youth groups, and take charge of doing community development projects around the world.

IC is an unbelievable way to ingnite community projects and create leaders from a mixture of local Ecuadorian youth. Rocio’s initiative  brought  together the ideas stories and inspirations from a mixture of youth from six little villages (pueblitos) in the province of Esmeraldas, Great Britain, Oregon, New Yoirk, Maine, Wisconsin and Massachusetts.

IC’s activities are usually geared toward harboring relationships within local groups and initiating small, sustainable projects in the community. For example, this past Minga, a group of Ecuadorian and foreigner youths from IC worked together for three whole days aiding artisans from  Estero Community in the construction of a community hostal. The group not only  found, cut, carried and built the only town’s trash can out of bamboo, but also braided and weaved friendships bracelets. Additionally, they painted a colorful welcome sign for this poor but very beautiful beach side community.

The majority of he funding derived from:

1. The selling of Organic Cacao (chocolate) from cocoa farmers located in the rainforest.

2. Zumba fundraisers back in the US

3. Multiple private donations

 For more information, please contact:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


To promote youth leadership and volunteerism in communities InterCambio Comunitario fuels intercommunity relations amongst youth groups. The program is led by Ecuadorian and foreign youth who are dedicated to volunteering in a joint effort to better their community, country, and people. It forms a basis for organizing and preparing youth who seek to be leaders and volunteers in their own communities, assists in coordinating exchanges amongst peoples throughout Ecuador and abroad, and encourages a sustainable form of homestay-style community tourism.

 General Information

Volunteer groups of 4+ interested in participating in the InterCambio Comunitario program for a few days or weeks should email us for more information (no Spanish fluency is required). Internships of at 2+ months, for fluent individuals, are also available.

 Watch Video:

Center for Sustainable Development - Fonmsoeam


Although in the past several development projects have addressed sustainability from separate socio-economics, gender, research, and conservation perspectives, few attempts have been made to link these concepts under one umbrella. Fewer still have fostered the ability of local communities to carry that umbrella.

The small scale cacao farmers association "FONMSOEAM", stands for "Federation of Black, Mestizos Organization of small scale cacao farmers from  the South Western Esmeraldas, Atacames y Muisne). The FONMSOEAM community-based Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Conservation of Natural Resources will help cement an interdisciplinary partnership between small farmers, grass-roots conservation organizations, community-based financial institution, government officials, and the manufacturing and retail sectors of lucrative, high end chocolate products and chocolate byproducts. (See map)


This project targets farmers in the Esmeraldas province, one of the most economically depressed region of Ecuador. Per capita GNP is 48% below the national average, and most lack access to clean water, education and healthcare. The farmers’ way of life helps protect and paradoxically threatens one of the last intact forest ecosystems in the Mache Chindul Ecological Reserve and surrounding areas, part of the Choco Bioregion considered a global priority for biodiversity conservation.  

Of crops produced, cacao is the “greenest” and has considerable untapped market potential.  However, farmers are unorganized, uninformed and commercialize unilaterally in an increasingly oligopolistic market. Cooperative agreements, infrastructure, technology and education are crucial steps to access better prices.



The FONMSOEAM Center for Sustainable Development and Conservation of Natural Resources is an initiative to organize small cacao farmers and integrate them with local conservation organizations  towards the common goal of increasing revenues and awareness of a sustainable and environmentally healthy crop. 


Specific objectives include community based monitoring of biodiversity in agroforestry systems, exploitation of sub-products currently discarded; local financial autonomy through the woman’s bank; collective distribution of raw cacao to receive better prices; and creation of an international market image for environmentally friendly cacao and chocolate products.


Project activities include strengthening of farmers organizations (currently ongoing); forge a collaborative agreement with a local conservation organization,  partner with national and international NGO’s willing to assist with the project (ongoing),  computer and software training to members of the farmer's association (ongoing), GIS-based inventory of cacao plantations and biodiversity estimates (6 months); construction of Sustainable Development Center (SDC) including office with internet connectivity (10 months); expansion of SDC to include facilities for juice extraction, fermentation and drying of cacao (6 months); experiment with processing of byproducts for livestock feed (2 months); planting of a 1 hectare model cacao farm integrated with native timber trees (6mon); training workshops in post-harvest processing, use of personal computers and internet, accounting systems and cacao marketing and distribution strategies (6mon).

Welcome, Everyone


 Greetings! - Great Wilderness continues to work on biodiversity preservation in both Ecuador and Venezuela. We are succeeding in our mission to "Help People Help Nature."

 Please consider donating to Great Wilderness. It is easy to go to our website and donate. Thanks in advance for any help you can give to our organization.

 Volunteer and Internship Program

Our goal is to support, strengthen and enhance our partners conservation program by sending individuals interested in working and supporting the protection of Ecuador and Venezuela native forest and ecosystems. (Read more)


The Parrotlet Project


Do Parrots Name Their Babies?

While studying Green-rumplet Parrolets in Venezuela, National Geographic Explorer and Great Wilderness Board member, Dr. Karl Berg, discovered an incredibly rare behavior.

The Parrolet Project (Video)

read more


Forest Fund

Dear Family and Friends,


Earth Day 2018 marks the celebration of a two-year partnership with Forest Fund. Forest Fund supports conservation of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil with the help of Great Wilderness and donors worldwide. Together we are turning landowners into forest protectors by providing opportunity cost payments to the landowner to keep the forest standing in one of the most ecologically important and threatened areas of the world. Read more     



Please consider supporting our efforts.