Mongabay Corporation
Founded 1999
Founder Rhett Ayers Butler
Type 501(c)(3)
Focus Conservation journalism
Area served
Key people
CEO Rhett Ayers Butler
Donations, grants, and advertising
36 (Dec 2017)
over 150 (Jul 2016)
Website is a web site that publishes news on environmental science, energy, and green design, and features extensive information on tropical rainforests, including pictures and deforestation statistics for countries of the world. It was founded in 1999 by economist Rhett Ayers Butler in order to increase "interest in and appreciation of wildlands and wildlife, while examining the impact of emerging local and global trends in technology, economics, and finance on conservation and development".[1] In recent years to complement its US-based team, Mongabay has opened bureaus in Indonesia, Latin America, and India, reporting daily in Bahasa, Spanish, and English respectively. Mongabay's reporting is available in nine languages.


In an interview with Conjour, Butler said his passion for rainforests drove him to start Mongabay: "I was intrigued by the complexity of these ecosystems and how every species seemed to play a part. As I became more passionate about rainforests, I grew more concerned about their fate, including the threats they face."[2]


Rhett Ayers Butler, the founder of the website, explains that "mongabay" originated from an anglicized spelling and pronunciation of Nosy Mangabe, an island off the coast of Madagascar. He goes on to note that it is best known as "a preserve for the Aye-aye, a rare and unusual lemur famous for its bizarre appearance".


In 2008 Mongabay was named one of the top fifteen environmental websites by Time.[3] It was also the winner of the 2018 Science Seeker Awards in the environment category.

Business model is independent and unaffiliated with any organization. The site has been used as an information source by CNN, CBS, the Discovery Channel, NBC, UPI, Yahoo!, and other such outlets.


All of's content is free thanks to the 1.3 million unique visitors per month (as of January 2008: that number was 2.5 million in 2018). In 2008 Butler said that the traffic brought the site $15,000 to $18,000 a month from AdSense.,[4] but the decline in advertising revenue across the environmental media sector after the financial crisis, sharply reduced the site's income.[5] In 2012, Butler launched, a 501(c)(3) organization, to support Mongabay's education program and non-English reporting initiatives as well as expand its environmental reporting initiatives, including grants for journalists.[6] Mongabay phased out advertising on its news content in 2017.[7]


Academic journals formerly published Tropical Conservation Science, a peer-reviewed, open-access academic journal on the conservation of tropical forests and of other tropical ecosystems.[8] Since its inception in 2008, it has four issues a year, in March, June, September, and December. It used to provide opportunities for scientists in developing countries to publish their research in their native languages, but as of September 2012, Tropical Conservation Science publishes papers only in English. It has been published by SAGE Publications since August 2016.[9]

Other websites

On May 19, 2012, launched an Indonesian language affiliate at In June 2016, Mongabay launched a Spanish-language news service in Latin America at Mongabay-Latam. And in January 2018, Mongabay-India was launched.


Mongabayorg Corporation ( is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization headquartered in Menlo Park, California that raises awareness about social and environmental issues relating to forests and other ecosystems.[10] Founded in 2012 by Rhett Ayers Butler, was established as the non-profit arm of, an environmental science and conservation news web site launched in 1999.[11] In 2014,'s news production was shifted under[12]

By November 2015, had three main program areas: environmental news production in English, Indonesian, and Spanish; Tropical Conservation Science (ISSN 1940-0829),[13] an open-access academic journal that was acquired by SAGE Publications in August 2016;[14][15] and K-8 education. The Bay Area Tropical Forest Network, a social network in the San Francisco Bay Area,[16] is an additional project under depends on grants and donations for nearly all of its revenue.[17] Advertising revenue provides a small source of additional income. is a member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network.[18]

History was founded in 2012 by conservation journalist Rhett Ayers Butler.[19] Butler established the non-profit due to his desire to expand the scope of Mongabay's environmental science and conservation news service.[20] By 2018, the site was receiving 2.5 million unique visitors a month at its news pages.

The first project under was Mongabay-Indonesia,[21] an Indonesian-language environmental news service run by a team of journalists in Indonesia.[22][23] Within a year of launch, Mongabay-Indonesia was the most widely read Indonesian-language environmental news service.[24] By 2015, the site was drawing more than 500,000 unique visitors per month and had correspondents in more than 30 cities and towns across the archipelago.

Butler applied the Mongabay-Indonesia model to Mongabay's global operation in 2014, launching a network-based approach to covering environmental stories in English. The pilot project focused on using data from Global Forest Watch to develop stories about what was happening on the ground the world's forests, including deforestation, conversion to plantations, and conservation.[25][26] After the nine-month pilot produced over 180 stories in more than 40 countries, including articles that generated significant interest in policy circles,[27] the project was expanded to a range of other topics.[28] The network of paid English-language correspondents reached 50 by mid-2015. also provides small grants to journalists to help with travel and reporting costs for stories published in high-profile third party media.[29]

Acknowledgements and awards

In 2008, Mongabay was named by Time magazine as one of the best "green websites".[30] In 2014, Founder Rhett Ayers Butler became the first journalist to win the Field Museum's Parker-Gentry Award for contributions "in the field of conservation biology whose efforts have had a significant impact on preserving the world's natural heritage and whose actions and approach can serve as a model to others".[31]

Finances relies primary on grants and donations to fund its activities.[32] Most grants come from philanthropic organizations like the Ford Foundation[33] and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.[34] Less than one percent of the organization's revenue comes from advertising.[35]'s network-based approach allows it to run a lean operation with a small staff relative to its volume of content production.

In 2013, reported total revenue of $528,128,[36] a five-fold increase from its 2012 revenue of $92,319. Overhead costs amounted to 2.9 percent in 2013, while fundraising costs came in at 2.2 percent.[37] Revenue in 2014 reached $910,569, while in 2015 it hit $1.3 million.[38] In 2017, total revenue eclipsed $2 million.

Leadership is governed by its Board of Directors, which consists of several members. Anthropologist Brodie David Ferguson is Chairman of the Board. Mongabay founder Rhett Ayers Butler is a member of the board.[39] also has a non-governing Advisory Board, which includes biologist Peter H. Raven, primatologist Jane Goodall, and William F. Laurance.

Operationally, is run by Butler, who serves as CEO and Executive Director. Butler started, an environmental science and conservation news web site[40] that today serves as the distribution platform for content produced under, out of his passion for nature[41][42]


  1. About Who is
  2. "How to get robbed and save rainforests - an interview with Rhett Butler of Mongabay",, Joel Howland 2018.
  3. Roston, Eric (17 April 2008). "Green Website: Mongabay". Time.
  4. Spors, Kelly K. (15 January 2008). "New Services Help Bloggers Bring in Ad Revenue". Wall Street Journal.
  5. Butler, Rhett. "The Business of Conservation Journalism", Haas School of Business, Berkeley, CA, 13 October 2014.
  6. Butler, Rhett K. (27 December 2012). "".
  7. Wood, Barbara (8 November 2017). "How a curious kid from Atherton started and grew a global environmental news site". Almanac News.
  8. Butler, Rhett. "". Editorial Affiliates. Environmental News Network.
  9. "About Tropical Conservation Science". Tropical Conservation Science.
  10. Guidestar "MONGABAYORG CORPORATION-GuideStar Nonprofit Profile Charting Impact Report", 17 November 2013. Retrieved on 17 November 2015
  11. Guynn, Jessica. "A site of inspiration", San Francisco Chronicle, 5 July 2006. Retrieved on 17 November 2015.
  12. Butler, Rhett. "Shifting to a non-profit model for environmental news reporting",, 29 October 2013. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  13. Tropical Conservation Science. "Tropical Conservation Science", Tropical Conservation Science, 11 November 2015. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  14. "Tropical Conservation Science". Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  15. "Tropical Conservation Science". SAGE Publications Australia. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  16. Bay Area Tropical Forest Network. "Bay Area Tropical Forest Network", BATFN, 11 November 2015. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  17. " Annual Report 2013",, 2014. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  18. Global Investigative Journalism Network "GIJN:", 2015. Retrieved on 17 November 2015
  19. "About",, 11 November 2015. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  20. Butler, Rhett. "Shifting to a non-profit model for environmental news reporting",, 29 October 2013. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  21. "Situs Berita dan Informasi Lingkungan", "Mongabay-Indonesia, 11 November 2015. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  22. Sagita, Dessy. "Environmental portal launches in Indonesia", Jakarta Globe, 22 May 2012. Retrieved on 17 November 2015.
  23. Schonhardt, Sara. "New Satellites to Help Save Indonesian Forests", Voice of America, 12 June 2012. Retrieved on 17 November 2015.
  24. "Mongabay-Indonesia",, 11 November 2015. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  25. Tempo Magazine. "Map the World", Tempo (Indonesian magazine), 16 May 2014. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  26. "Telling the tales behind the data",, 11 November 2015. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  27. Payne, Octavia Aris and Mann, Sarah Alix. "Zooming In: “Sustainable” Cocoa Producer Destroys Pristine Forest in Peru", World Resources Institute, 9 June 2015. Retrieved on 17 November 2015.
  28. " opportunities",, 11 November 2015. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  29. "Supporting mainstream media coverage of environmental concerns",, 2015. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  30. Roston, Eric. "The Environment: Green Websites", Field Museum, 2008 April 17. Retrieved on 17 November 2015.
  31. Field Museum. "Parker-Gentry Prize 2014 Rhett Butler", Field Museum, 2014. Retrieved on 17 November 2015.
  32. " Annual Report 2013",, 2014. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  33. Ford Foundation. "Ford Foundation Grants Database", Ford Foundation, 2015. Retrieved on 17 November 2015.
  34. MacArthur Foundation. "GRANTEE PROFILE:", MacArthur Foundation, 2014. Retrieved on 17 November 2015.
  35. " Annual Report 2014",, 2015. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  36. "Guidestar: MONGABAYORG CORPORATION", Guidestar, 11 November 2015. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  37. " Annual Report 2013",, 2014. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  38. "Guidestar: MONGABAYORG CORPORATION", Guidestar, 26 August 2017. Retrieved on 26 August 2017.
  39. " board",, 11 November 2015. Retrieved on 11 November 2015.
  40. Treehugger. "The TH Interview: Rhett Butler of", TreeHugger, 24 August 2006. Retrieved on 17 November 2015.
  41. Guynn, Jessica. "A site of inspiration", San Francisco Chronicle, 5 July 2006. Retrieved on 17 November 2015.
  42. Meehan, Emily. "Not Letting Success Get to Your Head", The Wall Street Journal, 8 September 2006. Retrieved on 17 November 2015.
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