I Bought a Rainforest

Jacob Andrén and Helena Nygren created an interesting documentary this year based on a simple question. Jacob’s class had raised money back in the 80’s to save a part of the rainforest and he wanted to know what was happening with their plot in Costa Rica over 20 years later. A good question that many of us have asked. We donate money for far flung projects and who knows what happens with it. Jacob did his best to find out.
But first I will disclose my own feelings about buying those acres. At my most cynical I could say this is the developed world using its money to try to preserve forest in the developing world because we’ve learned, through our own experience, that cutting down entire forests is wrong. We now know that this practise has real and serious environmental consequences but, I feel, we are trying to atone for our past foresticidal sins. This may be true but it hasn’t stopped me from buying plots of my own.
OK. Back to Jacob. A lot of these types of development projects are run by volunteers and so the paper trail can easily become cold after decades but Jacob didn’t give up. He traveled to Central America and pursued whatever contacts he could. Telling you if he was successful or not would be giving away the ending and I don’t want to do that. The point of the film was to show some of the realistic issues behind this issue. We are introduced to environmental heroes out there fighting their own government and poachers to preserve forest.
It would be easy to become cynical and discouraged but Jacob doesn’t. This isn’t a documentary that shies from the facts but it manages to keep its spirits up, like Jacob, and have an uplifting and hopeful end.  I would recommend it very much for anyone.
Bill Barrett, a local activist and cofounder of the Plant An Old Growth Forest project here in Guelph spoke after the film and lead an informed discussion about the issues. His hope was that the grassroots organizations that began these campaigns long ago would be reborn because, he’s convinced, they do a great deal of good.  After seeing this film I would agree.


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