The Wyss Foundation has pledged $1 billion to buy and protect land and water sources to keep 30 percent of the planet’s landmass in a natural state by 2030.
The foundation – which is the creation of Swiss-born billionaire Hansjörg Wyss who is based in Wyoming – says it will support four primary strategies in its efforts to help rapidly expand the proportion of the Earth’s lands and oceans that are conserved so current and future generations can drink clean water, breathe clean air, and experience the wonders of the natural world.
Under the Wyss Campaign for Nature, the four primary strategies include supporting on-the-ground, locally led conservation projects, providing financial support to organizations that are working with indigenous communities, local leaders, and a wide range of stakeholders to establish, expand, or improve the management of parks and protected areas.
The Nature Conservancy, Aves Argentinas, Fundación Flora y Fauna Argentina, the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust, and Fundatia Conservation Carpathia are among the organisations receiving over $48 million in funding commitments for the first round of on-the-ground conservation projects that the Wyss Campaign for Nature is supporting. All together, these projects will help protect approximately 10 million acres of land and 17,000 square kilometres of large, ecologically rich ocean areas across 13 countries.
With $6.9 million in funding from the Wyss Campaign for Nature, The Nature Conservancy will expand its Blue Bonds for Conservation initiative in the Caribbean and will work with local partners to create a more than 200,000-acre sustainable agriculture zone and protected area in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin.
Other strategies include increasing international conservation targets and using science to maximise conservation gains. The Wyss Foundation is also aiming to inspire action, and has partnered with the National Geographic Society to raise public awareness about the global conservation crisis by highlighting notable stories of conservation successes and challenges.
The National Geographic Society will document why ambitious global conservation action is needed to help alleviate the worst impacts of climate change and address the problems associated with the declining health of the natural world. The collapse of fisheries, for example, is jeopardising livelihoods and food supplies around the globe. More than 800 million people do not have access to clean drinking water, and the degradation of rivers and waterways poses a grave risk to public health. By 2020, the planet will have lost two-thirds of its wildlife populations unless urgent action is taken now.
Hansjörg Wyss, a philanthropist who launched the Wyss Foundation in 1998, said: “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. 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.”
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea