New $20 million grant from Arcadia will accelerate urgent efforts to save the planet’s critical strongholds on land and at sea
WCS seeks to catalyze the conservation of at least 50 percent of the world’s intact marine and terrestrial wilderness by 2030
A major new $20 million, four-year grant from Arcadia—a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin—will powerfully advance the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) efforts to save Earth’s most biodiverse protected but vulnerable wilderness areas.
Arcadia’s gift will also help catalyze crucial international efforts to conserve at least 50 percent of the world’s last intact wild places by 2030.
This leading investment arrives at a critical moment for wildlife and wild places. WCS research has revealed that humans have significantly altered more than three-quarters of the world’s land area and two-thirds of its marine realm. A 2019 United Nations report confirmed that as many as 1 million species are now threatened with extinction, a prospect that threatens human survival.
“Our planet’s last natural strongholds urgently need our protection and conserving these intact places presents a significant opportunity to make huge conservation gains,” said Cristián Samper, WCS President and CEO. “We are grateful that Arcadia shares our vision and has partnered with us to scale up field efforts and amplify international commitments to this cause.”
“We are delighted to support the Wildlife Conservation Society in its efforts to conserve nature’s last remaining strongholds, said Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, founders, Arcadia Fund.
“WCS’s work is an outstanding example of scientifically-sound and evidence-driven biodiversity conservation, preserving complexity, rarity and beauty.”
Protected areas—which currently cover almost 14% of the planet’s land and 6% of the ocean—are the single most effective mechanism for ensuring the survival of species and ecosystems when properly managed and supported by partners on the ground.
Successful conservation depends on working at a landscape scale by incorporating protected, conserved, and managed areas that can collectively deliver results for wildlife—and in some cases, by improving connectivity through restoration and rewilding of adjacent habitats. These larger landscape-level units are nature strongholds, which are defined as large protected areas or mosaics of conserved and managed areas embedded in natural landscapes and seascapes. Arcadia’s new funding will help scale up WCS’s efforts to fortify Earth’s most important strongholds and equip them to withstand escalating pressures.
· WCS will intensify efforts in a priority group of nature strongholds using a data-driven approach to select sites across Latin America, Africa, and Asia that represent the planet’s most intact, biodiverse regions and show political leadership and community support for conservation.
· WCS will help create, expand, and manage protected areas—assisting governments and other partners to establish and execute bold commitments to expansive, effective wilderness conservation. WCS will make key data on biodiversity and nature strongholds publicly available and promote open access to this important environmental information.
· WCS will further strengthen and broaden conservation initiatives in its global stronghold portfolio by bolstering site protections, improving protected area management, increasing indigenous and community engagement, building next generation capacity, and rolling out a comprehensive monitoring initiative.
Since 1895, WCS has helped create more than 265 terrestrial and marine protected areas, including Kruger and Serengeti, and it is currently involved in managing and monitoring more than 370. WCS builds staff and capacity in protected areas, develops management plans and helps implement them, invests in infrastructure, secures communities’ rights to manage and benefit from their traditional lands and waters, and promotes sustainable use of natural resources that both conserves biodiversity and contributes to livelihood security of communities in and around protected landscapes and seascapes. WCS also monitors the impact of interventions on wildlife populations, provides that information to management authorities, and promotes adaptive management to improve effectiveness and impact over time.
Arcadia is a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. It supports charities and scholarly institutions that preserve cultural heritage and the environment. Arcadia also supports projects that promote open access and all of its awards are granted on the condition that any materials produced are made available for free online. Since 2002, Arcadia has awarded more than $663 million to projects around the world.