About Us

Mission and Strategy

Ceiba is dedicated to the conservation of tropical habitats and the promotion of sustainable livelihoods.  We protect rare and endangered plants and animals, and bolster the value that tropical ecosystems provide to rural communities.  Our strategy is to establish locally-operated nature reserves, promote public education, sponsor scientific research, promote and support community-based sustainability.  We emphasize projects which promote the empowerment of local landowners and communities, and encourage them to actively participate in the sustainable management of their land.  We work primarily in Ecuador, with an emphasis on the threatened coastal dry forests and the hyper-diverse cloud forests of the Andes.

Ceiba Tree Giant Buttress Roots

The Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation is a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1997.  We were awarded a five-star rating in 2019 by Great Nonprofits.  Our name is taken from the Ceiba tree (pronounced “SAY-ba”), a giant of tropical forests, which provides a home for animals and plants in its lofty, umbrella-like canopy.  Ceiba trees (Ceiba pentandra) are found throughout Central and South America, and are widely viewed as a symbol of intact forest and a revered as a protector of both humanity and nature (more).

Our Strengths

Ceiba maintains long-term commitment to our conservation and sustainability projects.  We establish locally-owned reserves that serve as models to inspire broader conservation among landowners and communities.  This approach breeds independence, and long-term appreciation for the value of nature, rather than dependence on the Foundation for support.  We rely on clear endpoints and outcomes to trigger transfer of project management to local owners, rather than adhering to fixed timelines.  This approach permits a flexibility that greatly increases long-term success.  Ceiba has operated in Ecuador for over 20 years, and has strong connections with the communities where we work, as well as federal and local governments.  The trust we have established makes Ceiba an ideal partner for rapid response programs, as demonstrated by our intensive recovery activities following the 2016 earthquake.

Our Projects

We offer a number of world-class study abroad programs, in partnership with the University of Wisconsin and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito.  In the communities around the reserves we’ve helped establish, we provide environmental education to local schools, and training to local teachers.

Ceiba has promoted habitat protection for more than two decades, beginning with establishment of the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve.  We rely primarily on conservation easements, a legal mechanism long-used for private lands protection in the U.S., and signed the first easement in South America between a private landowner and a conservation organization.

We are establishing a forested biological corridor on the north-central coast of Ecuador, through sponsorship of a Conservation and Sustainable Use Area (or ACUS in Spanish), to enhance connectivity and species migration within this highly seasonal  and critically threatened ecosystem.

We conduct scientific research to inform and guide mitigation strategies against a variety of threats facing tropical plants, animals, and habitats.

For years, we have invited young professionals to advance their training by working as interns and volunteers at our sites, and support our conservation and development programs.

Ceiba deeply respect the role that local people, communities, and institutions play in the protectionof their natural resources.  We work closely with community members, private landowners, and local governments to encourage long-term, locally driven advocacy for conservation and sustainability.

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