Land Purchase as a Tool for Conservation
The World Land Trust (WLT) was one of the first organisations in the world focusing specifically on the conservation of threatened habitats through land purchase. Surprisingly, there are still relatively few organisations approaching conservation through purchase although an increasing number of commercial companies are going down this route.
Unfortunately not many of the other organisations, and virtually none of the businesses involved in land purchase, follow the WLT model. The WLT is very careful about its selection of projects and works very closely indeed with local non-governmental organisations to ensure that there can be no question of Green Colonialism. The Trust does not own or manage any of the areas it helps save outside of the UK: The land is always purchased, protected and managed by local partner organisations.
While the Trust is not claiming that land purchase is a permanent solution to saving the world's rainforests, it is nevertheless a method of creating, relatively rapidly, protected reserves in areas under imminent threat of destruction.
Campaigning and lobbying governments to protect our dwindling wildlife heritage is important, and many other organisations do this very effectively, but the World Land Trust was set up to take direct action and has developed the expertise to work effectively with overseas project partners to protect wildlife habitats through land purchase.
When choosing a land purchase project WLT generally needs to be assured that the area in question has clear land rights, and an owner who is willing to sell the property. In places identified by WLT and their project partners to be of critical importance, but where land purchase is not an option, the WLT will work with local partners to protect habitat through a range of other means.
Land purchase and indigenous communities
An integral part of all WLT funded projects is the involvement of local communities, and the development of sustainable livelihoods. While most of our project areas do not have indigenous communities living in or near them, more recently we have started to work with our partners in areas where there are indigenous communities and even some isolated groups who are avoiding contact with the rest of the world.
Because of this, for any land purchase funded by the WLT, our partners involve the concerned population groups’ representatives in the decision-making processes and also seek advice with legal and anthropological institutions and specialists in order to ensure that in all such cases the aspirations and legal rights of the local communities will be respected. This is particularly important in cases where land purchase for conservation affects the traditional territories claimed by indigenous people.
See also “Why Land Purchase?” On our Frequently Asked Questions page.