Cloud Forest Institute encourages bio-regional endeavors to re-establish balance within ecological systems by way of environmental education, forest reciprocity and resilient community development.
Cloud Forest Institute was originally founded to develop an educational exchange between Ecuador and the US. Ecuador has “the highest biodiversity per hectare of any South American Country”. What makes it vital to protect is “at the current rate of deforestation, 2.3% per year, it will be nearly denuded by 2025”. This small country is the home of at least 10 distinct existing indigenous groups. These habitats and cultures are in danger of being lost to the encroachment of western civilization and the environmentally destructive practices of transnational corporations.
Research about online distance education learning communities began in 1996 when Patrick Burnstad aka Sumo, co- founder of CFI, became affiliated with the Globewide Network Academy (GNA). GNA originated in 1993 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Within the following year Sumo helped co-found the Internet Biologists. The first course that CFI presented was “Doing Biology on the Internet” and was held in a virtual reality MOO created by Diversity University.
In 2004 CFI began partnering with ALLPA and Fundacion Cambugan to protect the Cambugan Watershed. The Cambugán River is located in the western Andean mountain range, about 50 km north of Quito, just 15 km north of the equator. The area belongs to the parish of San José de Minas in the region of Quito, in the province of Pichincha. The Cambugán Watershed is approximately 5 km wide and 12 km long at an elevation of 1300m to 3200m.
In 2006 CFI co-founded the Amazon Myco Renewal Project now known as Co-Renewal. Myco-remediation experiments to test how oyster mushroom mycelium work with the final phase of oil spill clean up began soon after in Lago Agrio.
Cloud Forest Institute sponsors public benefit projects globally as well as locally in the Mendocino County, California community. CFI supports organizations and community groups whose work is compatible with our mission by providing 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsorship to environmental and scientific education projects.
1996 - Obtain federally designated 501 (c)(3) educational and scientific non-profit corporate status
1997 - Affiliate with the Globewide Network Academy
1998 - Co-found the Internet Biologists
2000 - CSUMB Real Life Learning: Ecuador Pilot Program
2001 - Real Life Learning Ecuador Program Year 2
2001 – Affiliate with CIBT to be recognized as Instituto Bosque Nublado, an Ecuadorian NGO
2001 - Collaborate with Salem in Mindo, Ecuador hosting volunteers, interns, and students
2002 - Activist Support for Resistors of Mindo segment of OCP Oil Pipeline Project
2003 - Office headquarters at River Oaks Compu-Farm in Potter Valley, CA