Words by Andrew Millham
Reserva: The Youth Land Trust (@ReservaYLT) is a global youth-oriented conservation organisation. In partnership with Rainforest Trust and Ecuadorian NGO Fundación EcoMinga, Reserva aims to empower young people to change our planet for the better through projects in three impact areas—conservation, education, and storytelling. We are a group of young naturalists, lead by founder Callie Broaddus, who believe that young people not only have a powerful voice, but the financial means to make real environmental change happen. Currently, Reserva is composed of more than 50 Youth Council members from over 15 countries, all working together for a more sustainable future. I have met some amazing young people through my role as Media Officer! Our flagship project is to create the world’s first entirely youth-funded nature reserve in the Ecuadorian Chocó Rainforest: a biodiversity hotspot with many endemic species and a beautiful example of one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems. About a quarter of all plant species found there are endemic, and the region has the highest concentration of endemic birds in the world!
In September 2019, Callie, Lucy Houliston and Carter Ries joined a research expedition led by our partner, Fundación EcoMinga, to the site of our proposed nature reserve. The photographs that they took showcase the immense biodiversity present in Ecuadorian cloud forests. These forests are home to iconic species like howler monkeys and Andean [spectacled] bears –- both listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, a comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. These under- explored forests have even revealed several new species of frog, orchid and rodent. Who knows what other new species we could find? You can read more about the expedition on the ‘Field Notes’ section of the Reserva website. Some youth council members are on expedition in Ecuador right now!
To give more young people a voice, Reserva: The Youth Land Trust has also launched the ‘1 Million Letters Campaign’ (#1MillionLetters). We want young people (26 and under) to write us a letter about why they love nature and why we should protect our wild places. These letters can be emailed to us as a photograph (firstname.lastname@example.org) or mailed to P.O. Box 57277, Washington, D.C., 20037. There is a letter template available on our website (https://reservaylt.org/1-million-letters). Rainforest Trust matches every letter that we receive with $3 towards our youth-funded reserve project. We are planning to bring all of the letters to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s upcoming summit COP15, to let world leaders hear what young people have to say.
We fundraise through our website and social media presence. Last, we held our first ever Concert for Conservation, an idea that came from Youth Council member James Miller. This virtual event, hosted by conservationist and TV presenter Lizzie Daly, brought musicians and conservationists together for a fantastic evening of entertainment, raising over $1000 towards our reserve project! There is a recording available on Rainforest Trust’s Instagram. Similarly, we are about to launch our second Run for the Rainforest, a virtual 5k and 1-mile dash where you can get fit and protect the rainforest at the same time! There will be more info about this on our website later this month.
Every dollar that we raise is matched by Rainforest Trust and, in total, we have already raised over $100,000 towards our final goal! Just $3 is enough to purchase a classroom-sized area of rainforest.
Those that donate to this project can print out an awesome certificate, which is available on our
We are passionate about preserving our Earth’s wilderness areas for future generations to enjoy. We are proof that young people can make a measurable difference and that, regardless of age, you can too. Please consider donating to, or fundraising for, Reserva: The Youth Land Trust. Facebook fundraisers are a brilliant way to raise money for the environment; to create one for Reserva, choose Rainforest Trust as the charity and include ‘Reserva’ somewhere in the bio. If you are over 26, you can still make a difference by setting up a fundraiser or donating on behalf of a young person. When we work towards a common goal, the tangible positive impacts that we can have on the environment are incredible. Real change does not happen overnight, but through individuals taking small steps in unison towards a better future. Picking up litter, taking public transport, donating to Reserva…it all helps. Together, we can secure our planet a green future.