Our mission is to advocate protection for endangered forests worldwide and to raise funds to protect Paraguay’s San Rafael Reserve via an environmental bicycle tour through the Americas.
The San Rafael Reserve is protected by Paraguayan law, yet corrupt local people and foreign consumption continue to contribute to its destruction.
Bribed police officers allow logging trucks to illegally enter San Rafael and extract old-growth trees. This is an unsustainable, greedy practice that destroys the land and leaves little for future generations.
Ride for the Trees is a 10,000-mile environmentally-friendly solo bicycle tour through the Americas.
The ride officially began January 1st, 2009 and was supposed to last 10 months. Due to the infamous bee attack and theft which occurred in Argentina I now expect to finish in the middle of 2010.
The route begins in the San Rafael Reserve in Paraguay, continues west through Argentina, then northwest through Bolivia and Peru, then into Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States.
Because Ride for the Trees is a self-supported tour, all necessary supplies are carried on the bicycle including food, camping gear, tools and replacement parts.
San Rafael is part of the remaining 7% of Paraguay’s Upper Parana Atlantic Forest. It is home to 27 Mbya Guarani indigenous communities, more than 410 species of birds, and several endemic species of animals that exist only in San Rafael. They all rely on the remaining 172,973 acres (approx. 70,000 hectares) of this biologically rich, subtropical forest.
Meanwhile, deforestation continues on private land within San Rafael– and there are similar stories the world over.
Ride for the Trees is not only a fundraiser; environmental education is a primary component of the tour. Environmental presentations and media interviews will be conducted throughout South, Central and North America addressing local and global deforestation issues and solutions.
Now, after living in Paraguay as a Peace Corps Volunteer and working with organizations dedicated to protecting San Rafael I know fundraising will make a significant impact. We aim to raise $100,000, which will support two non-profit organizations in Paraguay’s Conservation Alliance: Guyra Paraguay and Procosara. Both organizations are currently fighting to protect the San Rafael Reserve with support from Bird Life International and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Samuel K. Hagler- Director/Cyclist, Ride for the Trees
Samuel was born in 1983 in Boise, Idaho, but he calls Arizona home.
His bicycle touring experience includes Across the U.S. for M.S. in 2001 and Bike & Build in 2004.
In 2005 Samuel participated in a NOLS backpacking course in the mountains of Washington state, a 30-day course in the incredible Cascades and Pasayten Wilderness.
Samuel graduated from Northern Arizona University (NAU) in 2006 with a B.S. in Parks and Recreation Management and a minor in Philosophy. During his time at NAU Samuel was certified as a Wilderness First Responder by Desert Mountain Medicine.
From 2006 to 2008 Hagler was a Peace Corps Volunteer in a Paraguayan village 12 kilometers from the San Rafael Reserve. It was there that he grew to love and respect Paraguay’s culture and the people who are caught in the midst of such an unfortunate environmental crisis. At San Rafael, Hagler had the pleasure to see not only endangered animals like toucans, parrots and monkeys, but also to meet the Mbya Guarani people who are sadly losing their habitat and culture. In Paraguay, Samuel participated in a variety of conservation projects with Procosara and Guyra Paraguay, the two organizations benefiting from the funds raised by Ride for the Trees.
David J. Gordon- Manager, Ride for the Trees
David was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1983 and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in Philosophy with a minor in Creative Writing.
Currently, David is an advertising student at the Miami Ad School’s San Francisco campus. But that is a little misleading, since he’s actually studying in London as part of an externship program with the school until late December.
As manager for the Ride For The Trees, David has been helping Sam prepare for this very important trip. He is honored that he is even attached to such a worthy cause.
Along with advertising, David likes to travel, read, and write in the third person.
The San Rafael Reserve is part of the Atlantic Forest, which is officially recognized as one of the 34 Biodiversity Hotspots in the world by Conservation International. The reserve itself was named the 2nd Important Bird Area (IBA) in South America and the 1st IBA in Paraguay by Bird Life International. The San Rafael Reserve in the Upper Parana Atlantic Forest is the specific section of the Atlantic Forest we are dedicated to protecting.