How the Trust evaluates conservation projects
The majority of World Land Trust projects involve the acquisition or protection of land. When selecting projects, a number of specific criteria are used to ensure that the project falls within WLT’s mission, and also looks at practical considerations, to ensure that the project is likely to succeed in its aims.
1. Conservation Value
Conservation value is first and foremost, the most important aspect of all World Land Trust (WLT) projects. Conservation value takes into account biodiversity within the project area (the number and variety of different species) and the level of threat of individual species. Also considered is the size of the reserve and the impact it will have on the surrounding land. Of particular importance here is whether the land connects with other wildlife reserves, to create a greater network of protected areas. The possible effects of climate change must also be considered. Lastly, consequential impacts, such as training for local people and sustainability programmes are considered, which will contribute to the long-term protection of the reserve.
The selection of a project is not restricted by its location, as long as all other criteria are met. However, WLT would not normally consider projects within developed countries.
3. Feasibility Criteria (to assess likelihood of success)
This includes the practical aspects of the project selection, such as the actual availability of land that can be purchased, whether the project is within WLT’s financial capability, and whether the cost of the project reflects its overall conservation value within its location.
It is always essential that WLT carries out its projects in partnership with a local organisation, with similar objectives to the Trust, and with the skills and capacity to manage the project. Commitment to the partnership is given through a non-legally binding agreement (a Memorandum of Understanding) that outlines the expectations and responsibilities of both partners.
Lastly, the criteria address the exit options available for the project. The aim of each project is for WLT to provide support for the local organisation to carry out project objectives, but with the ideal outcome for the project to continue, independent of WLT. To do this, project objectives must consider opportunities for sustainability for the long-term future.
4. Absence of adequate funding from other sources
As a small organisation, WLT is conscious that donations from supporters are spent in the most valuable way possible. Something that the Trust is keen to avoid is the duplication of efforts or funding in a particular project area, when there are many worthy project sites worldwide that require support. As a result, WLT will only support projects knowing that support is not available from other sources.
5. Feedback in support of the Trust's further activities
This considers the publicity value of the project, and the potential for fundraising. Often, supporters write to the Trust voicing support for a particular location or species, suggestions that are taken into consideration when choosing projects. The potential for future land acquisition and/or research projects is also taken into consideration.