Yasuní, Ecuador, May 20, 2024 -- The globally renowned Yasuní ecosystem in Ecuador will receive a significant boost in conservation efforts through a new agreement between the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Legacy Landscapes Fund (LLF), supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. 

Following LLF’s perpetual funding model, this agreement commits to providing an annual grant of $1 million for a minimum of 50 years to support the long-term preservation of Yasuní's biodiversity.  It will contribute to maintaining the integrity of Yasuní National Park and the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve.

Ecuador´s population has recently opted for conservation of the ecosystem and against further oil exploration in the National Park. LLF´s funding is an important positive signal in support for the integrity of the region and thus aligns with the people´s vote.

This commitment is instrumental for effectively managing the national park, as the core conservation area, as well as the overall landscape, enhancing participatory governance, ensuring biodiversity protection, and supporting local communities. To do this effectively, WCS will collaborate closely with Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition, as its primary strategic partner, throughout the program’s implementation.

The Yasuní Biosphere Reserve stands as a global treasure, known as one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth. Its intricate web of ecosystems is home to numerous plant and animal species, including iconic species such as jaguars, tapirs, and primates, making it a crucial sanctuary for global biodiversity. The region also holds high significance for plant diversity, with more than 4,000 estimated species per 10,000 km², ranking among the nine centers of global plant diversity. The avian and aquatic biodiversity are equally impressive, with at least 596 bird species documented, representing a third of the Amazon's native species, and an estimated 499 fish species.

Protecting the Yasuní also helps to safeguard vital ecosystem services that are essential for human well-being. Yasuní is home to Indigenous communities whose cultures and livelihoods are intricately linked to, and dependent on, its natural resources. The rainforest serves as a critical carbon sink, helping to mitigate climate change, and its rich biodiversity supports pollination, clean water provision, and potential medicinal discoveries. Therefore, its conservation has both local and global significance.

WCS has worked closely with Yasuní’s Indigenous communities for more than 20 years, supporting them in the establishment of community based natural resource management strategies, helping to secure their livelihoods, and protect their territories. LLF funding will support and scale-up community-based resource management, including productive initiatives, as well as strengthen governance, at the community and landscape scale.

Kelvin Andy, Leader of the Yaku Kawsay Environmental Interpretation Center, said:  "Our conservation efforts are important because without them, we face the risk of losing everything. Our community has firsthand experience with the extirpation of wildlife due to unsustainable fishing and hunting. Initiatives such as LLF Yasuni are essential because they promote activities like crafting wooden animals, training young individuals as tourism guides, and empowering women in poultry farming. These initiatives contribute to maintaining healthy wildlife populations, and animals stay closer to our community."

Stefanie Lang, Executive Director of the Legacy Landscape Fund said: “LLF is very proud to welcome Yasuní into our portfolio of globally supported areas. Effective conservation needs long-term funding security, and this is what LLF will provide. We look forward to working closely with WCS and all the partners in order to ensure that the unique value of Yasuní is kept for the benefit of all people in and around Yasuní and for the survival of species and biodiversity.” 

Said Joe Walston, Executive Vice President of WCS Global: “This agreement will enable us to delve deeper into our work in the Yasuní, strengthening collaboration with local communities, boosting their productive initiatives to enhance their household economy, and secure their livelihoods. The conservation of Yasuní will be stronger with the leadership of Indigenous peoples and nationalities.”

Avecita Chicchón, Program Director for the Andes-Amazon Initiative of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, said, “The Moore Foundation has supported Yasuni for two decades via WCS and now we are pleased to help strengthen the long-term protection of this critically important landscape in Ecuador through a joint commitment with Legacy Landscapes Fund. We are certain that this recognition and support for Yasuni will foster and sustain the crucial partnership of key stakeholders, including the government, local communities, Indigenous Peoples, and conservation organizations like WCS.” 

María Paliz, Yasuní National Park Administrator, said: "Implementing the LLF Yasuní Program will improve the management of the national park, facilitating the achievement of conservation goals, and promoting the sustainable use of biodiversity through a collaborative governance model that can be replicated country-wide."

LLF will contribute at least $30 million USD, including $10 million USD private match funding provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

About Legacy Landscapes Fund:
Legacy Landscapes Fund is a pioneering initiative committed to safeguarding the world's most critical landscapes and biodiversity hotspots. Established with a vision to protect and preserve natural environments for future generations, the fund provides financial support to long-term conservation programs aimed at addressing pressing environmental challenges. By collaborating with local communities, conservation organizations, and philanthropic partners, Legacy Landscapes Fund strives to promote sustainable stewardship of our planet's ecosystems, ensuring their resilience and vitality for years to come. LLF is funded by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and by several philanthropic foundations.

About the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation:
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to advancing environmental conservation, scientific research, patient care improvements, and preserving the unique character of the Bay Area. Founded by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and his wife Betty, the foundation supports transformative initiatives that address some of the world's most pressing challenges, striving to create positive, lasting impacts for current and future generations. Through strategic investments and partnerships, the foundation seeks to drive innovative solutions and catalyze change across various sectors to build a healthier, more sustainable world.