We are the Iracambi Rainforest Conservation and Research Center, located in one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots – Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. For the past twenty years we’ve been working with the local community in a remote rural area on the interface between conservation and sustainability. Everything we do is directed towards fulfilling our core mission: Saving Forests, Changing Lives, and our programs focus on ecological restoration, information sharing and public policy.

With the help of students, interns and volunteers from Brazil and across the world we plant trees on local family farms, (Forests4Water,) bring local school children out of the classroom and into the forest (Young EcoLeaders,) model a system of regenerative agriculture, and catalogue native medicinal plants and their traditional uses (Living Pharmacy.) Our policy work includes participating at local, regional and state level in environmental licensing, setting up protected areas, and community organizing and advocacy in the face of a potential bauxite mining operation in the conservation areas.

Every day we are encouraged and inspired by the example of the hummingbird. The story, which can be heard throughout the Americas, goes like this. Once upon a time, there was a fire in the forest and all the animals were fleeing. All except the hummingbird. She was flying towards the fire with a drop of water in her beak. “Silly little bird,” shouted the eagle, soaring above her, “Don’t you realize you’ll never put out the fire all by yourself?” The hummingbird flew onto towards the fire and dropped the water. Then she looked up at the eagle. “You’re right,” she said, “I’ll never do it by myself. But I’m doing my part.”

We’d like to be part of the Conservation Network of Optimists Worldwide so we can learn from and encourage one another, wherever in the world we may be. Because we are #strongertogether, #ConservationOptimism. All we need are enough hummingbirds!