The Wyss Foundation in Washington, D.C., has announced a $1 billion commitment aimed at accelerating land and ocean conservation efforts around the world.
The goal of the Wyss Campaign for Nature is to encourage conservation of 30 percent of the planet in a natural state by 2030 through the creation and expansion of protected areas, the establishment of more ambitious protected area targets, stepped-up conservation action and investments, and investments in science.
"Plant and animal species are estimated to be disappearing at a rate a thousand times faster than they were before humans arrived on the scene," Hansjörg Wyss wrote in an op-ed published in the New York Times. "Climate change is upending natural systems across the planet. Forests, fisheries, and drinking water supplies are imperiled as extractive industries chew further into the wild."
To address the crisis, the campaign will pursue four strategies. The first is to provide support for locally led conservation projects, including grants totaling more than $48 million to the Nature Conservancy, Aves Argentinas, Fundación Flora y Fauna Argentina, the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust, and Fundatia Conservation Carpathia in support of efforts to protect approximately ten million acres of land and 17,000 square kilometers of ecologically rich ocean areas across thirteen countries. The Nature Conservancy will use its $6.9 million grant to expand its Blue Bonds for Conservation initiative in the Caribbean and, working with local partners, create a 200,000-acre sustainable agriculture zone and protected area in Australia's Murray-Darling Basin.
In addition, the campaign will support efforts to significantly raise the global targets for marine and terrestrial protection — which are slated to be updated at the 2020 meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in China — to 30 percent of the world's marine and land environments by 2030. It also will partner with the National Geographic Society to raise public awareness about the global conservation crisis by highlighting notable stories of conservation successes and challenges. And, through the Wyss Foundation, it will sponsor a pilot project led by the University of Bern aimed at ensuring that effective, economically beneficial, and innovative land conservation strategies are studied, widely shared, and implemented on a global scale.
"From the forests that supply our drinking water to the rugged backcountry that inspires the imagination of our children, everyone on Earth has a stake in conserving our planet's wild places before they are gone," said Wyss. "I believe that to confront the global conservation crisis, we need to do far more to support locally led initiatives that conserve lands in the public trust, so that everyone has a chance to experience and explore the wonders of the outdoors."
(Photo credit: Ronald Catpo, Amazon Conservation Association)