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Wanda Culp (Tlingit, WECAN Tongass Regional Coordinator), and Osprey Orielle Lake (WECAN Executive Director) - together in the forests of the Tongass, Alaska - Photo via Emily Arasim/WECAN International

The WECAN International ‘Women for Forests'  program aims to support a diverse constituency of international women as they rise up to protect forests, and prevent and shut down extractive industries threatening the Earth’s critical living systems and our global communities.

The ‘Women for Forests’ program currently has three primary regions of focus: 1) the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador and Brazil, 2) the Itombwe Rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and 3) in North America, the Tongass Rainforest of Alaska and California Redwoods. Over the organizations history, we have also worked in supportive efforts to protect the Canadian Boreal forests from tar sands extraction.

In these regions and beyond - WECAN International advocates, partners, and collaborates with local organizations, and rural and Indigenous women working on the ground to defend and protect  forests, and resist threats from fossil fuel leasing and development, mining, and mega dams.

In some regions, we partner with local communities to create reforestation programs to regenerate damaged lands, thereby protecting the web of life, our global climate, and the lives and rights of Indigenous peoples and all future generations.

Another key component of WECAN International’s ‘Women For Forests’ work centers on supporting frontline and Indigenous women leaders in their outreach and advocacy at international forums, with elected officials, and at the United Nations and other institutions, in order to create further international pressure and visibility to protect their forest homelands. We also organize delegations of women forest defenders for advocacy engagements with financial institutions complicit in deforestation and extraction.

The entire world depends on front-line women defenders of the forests.

Please click on the boxes below to learn more about our regional Women for Forests programming and campaigns.

Why ‘Women For Forests’?

  • From 2000-2013, global forests were reduced by 70,000 square kilometers per year (a yearly loss about the size of Costa Rica).

  • Upwards of 15% of annual greenhouse gas emissions are caused by deforestation.

  • When left standing, a single tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, sequestering one ton of carbon dioxide over 40 years. This same single tree can provide a lifetime of oxygen for two people.

  • Living forests create and maintain the cycles of air, water and soil that sustain the Earth and our communities.

  • Forests are home to more than 80% of the world’s plant, animal, bacteria and fungi diversity.

  • More than 1.6 billion people rely directly on forests for food, fresh water, clothing, traditional medicine, and shelter.

  • 80-85% of the Earth’s remaining biodiversity is located in Indigenous Territories. Standing with, learning from, and honoring Indigenous peoples who act as the natural custodians of the forests must be a top priority – there will be no climate justice without respect for Indigenous rights, knowledge, and leadership.

  • Given dominant gender-ascribed responsibility for meeting household food, water, medicine, and energy needs - forest degradation sharply increases burdens on women and girls. At the same time, women’s intimate knowledge of the forests provides hope for genuine and just solutions and forest protection.

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