About AFI




Since 1989, Ancient Forest International (AFI) has been instrumental in the protection of primary forests around the world. With the help of its international ancient forest network, AFI develops opportunities for wildlands philanthropists and communities to work together to acquire and protect strategic and invaluable forestlands. AFI has helped coordinate the purchase of nearly a million acres of ecologically critical forested land, primarily along the Pacific coast of North and South America.

Ten years ago, several pioneering and well-publicized expeditions were made to southern Chile in search of the remote and elusive alerce cypress. These expeditions brought international attention to one of the world's greatest remaining intact temperate rainforests and involved hundreds of forest activists, photographers, journalists, and scientists. Chile's Valdivian forest had been practically unknown and undefended and is now hailed as among the most biodiverse ecosystems in the temperate world. AFI and many Chilean organizations were born from those expeditions, and the publicity contributed greatly to increased awareness of native forest issues in Chile.

The acquisitions coordinated by AFI include the Santuario Cañi (Chile's first private park and its premier forest education project) and the Los Cedros Biological Reserve (Ecuador's largest private park). In December 1999, AFI partnered with several organizations to purchase land in the Ecuadorian Amazon—a trategic in-holding within the Pañacocha Bosque Protector (protected forest). In North Coastal California's Gilham Butte area, AFI spearheaded the coalition that acquired land and created the Redwoods to Sea initiative, dramatically strengthening habitat connectivity among 140,000 acres of protected lands.

AFI also participated in the acquisition of Chile's Parque Pumalín: at 670,000 acres, this is the world's most extensive private park. Pumalín is a wild area 200 square miles larger than Rhode Island, featuring snowy Andean peaks, dense virgin forest, and pristine fjords. In coordination with Chilean nonprofits, AFI helped an American wildlands philanthropist purchase this land—which contains as much as 35% of all remaining alerce (see “Forest Types”). This area is now open to the public, with facilities such as hiking trails and visitor centers.

AFI was instrumental in creating and directing Fundación Lahuen, Chile's first native forest NGO, which now manages the Santuario Cañi and received the country's first public lands concession for conservation, Magdalena Island. In 1995, AFI helped coordinate an immediately successful ecotourism project in Chile—Hostería ¡école!—which brings adventure clients to visit the nearby Santuario Cañi and also supports nonprofit forest conservation initiatives through tourism revenue. AFI aided the indigenous Pehuenche community in Chile's Quinquen Valley in permanently acquiring its araucaria forest homeland. AFI also has served as a fiscal sponsor and donor liaison for other preservation projects in Chile and Ecuador, as well as in Tasmania and Argentina.

AFI Expedition in Chile's fjordal region

AFI produced a book about Chile's extensive and pristine bioregions—Chile's Native Forests: A Conservation Legacy (1996)—and is working on the Spanish edition. This book describes the history and current status of Chile's native forests—and their extraordinary importance for those dedicated to preserving global biodiversity. AFI also produced a documentary film, Expedition Alerce: The Lost Forest of the Andes, and a short film on Gilham Butte. AFI will be featured in an upcoming documentary about the Chilean temperate forests for the Discovery Channel.