In May 2009 the Rainforest Foundation will celebrate 20 years of protecting the Tropics. Founded by artist couple Sting and Trudie Styler, the organization has become a popular cause célèbre for well-known singers and actors. In October the environmental group Oceana honored rocker Sting and movie producer Styler for sustaining such a long-term commitment to the earth. The recognition, Styler says, “is a reminder that no one environmental issue can be considered separately from any other.”

The foundation ( is perhaps best known for helping indigenous people pursue formal legal title to regional lands they have long inhabited. Typically, once title is granted, the locals have the right to try to end any clear-cutting or other forms of destruction. Among numerous projects, the foundation has helped Shuar communities in Ecuador establish ownership of more than 100,000 acres of rain forest in the Kutuku Amazonian mountain range, set up a legal framework for securing land rights in Suriname, and found ways for the Achuar people of Peru to force oil-drilling firms to clean up pollution the industry causes. “We are now supporting the fight against deforestation in 23 countries,” Styler says. “And as we protect the rain forest, we help to sustain the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of its people.”