By John Burton, WLT Founder CEO
At the end of this week, I am off to Brazil for a meeting with the directors of most of our project partner organisations. Together with the IUCN-NL (IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands) we have organised a symposium so that our partners can get together and discuss issues of common interest.
This year’s theme is Payments for Ecological Services and Strengthening Memberships and one of our Brazilian partners, the O Boticario Foundation is hosting the symposium, on one of their reserves, so that we are surrounded by the wildlife we all aim to conserve. Foremost among the topics for discussion will undoubtedly be fundraising and sustainable incomes. The world’s economic problems have hit conservation bodies as much as any other, but never has the need for conservation of the decreasing number of wild places been greater. And another paradox is that land prices have started to increase. As the quote goes (roughly): buy land, god ain’t making it any more. In fact in some parts of the world it has gone up around 10 fold in the last couple of years.
The WLT model has been developed over the past 20 years, and is now recognised as a success. By empowering local conservation organisations, by helping them acquire reserves, a network of NGOs is being created that will be able to protect these places way into the future. Now is the time to support the WLT. A donation now, a living legacy, corporate support, and any other form of support, will help save the ever diminishing resource that is wilderness.
As a single example, the Gran Chaco of Paraguay, has been destroyed (albeit apparently ‘legally’) at an average rate of over 2000 acres a day throughout 2009. There is still a lot left, but we need to ensure huge areas of this unique habitat survive, if the wildlife (and the people that live in it) are to have a future.