Five years, 2.5 million acres: Steve Backshall introduces WLT’s ambitious new Strategic Plan SEARCH NEWS


The genesis of World Land Trust (WLT) was a single, simple premise, as true today as it was in 1989: saving land saves species. In the 30+ years since our foundation, WLT partners and supporters have achieved incredible things for conservation, but there is much work still to be done.

What we do now, together, at this critical juncture, will be truly pivotal for the planet. That’s why we’re launching a new WLT Strategic Plan to bring a further 2,500,000 acres (1,000,000 ha) under protection by 2025 – doubling the amount of land we’ve saved during our entire history up to this point. Scaling up our impact is the only way to meet the challenges that the natural world now faces.

Our new targets (scroll to the bottom of this story to read them in full) are ambitious but doable, if you join us. By supporting us individually or through your business, or committing to regular support as a WLT Friend, you can join everyone who is part of the WLT movement – the donors, the fundraisers, the corporate supporters – as we embark on this five-year journey that will transform the fortunes of wildlife, habitats and communities across the globe.

This, in the words of WLT Patron Steve Backshall, is what we could accomplish together:


“I know we can succeed”: Steve Backshall on why he supports WLT’s new Strategic Plan

For those of us who care about the planet, we have our work cut out in this crucial decade. Scientists tell us we only have until 2030 to prevent the worst of climate change. By the same year, world leaders have to make good on their pledges to end deforestation and cut greenhouse gas emissions, as well as fulfilling their promises to protect Life on Land, support Climate Action and many others under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

WLT, the organisation I have been a Patron of since 2016, is a living example of what this action for the planet looks like in practice. For decades, they have followed a simple approach – save land alongside local partners who own it, and everything else follows – to incredible effect, funding the direct protection of 2,222,247 acres of habitats (an area the size of Cyprus) as of the end of 2020 and connecting, through corridors and others, 20,000,000+ acres (an area the size of Scotland) in Africa, Asia, the Americas and beyond.

Steve is pictured here at One Wild Night, a fundraising event for our 2018 ‘Jungles for Jaguars’ appeal. Credit: David Bebber

With Catherine Barnard as CEO since 2019, WLT’s impact is building year on year. They are doing this on the back of surging interest to “do something”; a tide of support I myself witness time and time again through my work with young people, in the face of ever-growing threats that I see first-hand whilst on expedition.

Year after year, more people are getting behind the solutions that WLT offers to the climate and biodiversity crises. They want WLT to do more, and that is precisely what WLT is planning. As you’ll read in this Strategic Plan, the Trust has set a target to fund more than £12 million of partner conservation projects every year by 2025. This is an ambitious goal but at this critical time, it is a necessary one. It also lies within reach; when I think of the movement of supporters that already stand behind WLT – the new generations we are bringing to conservation through joint campaigns like Operation Ocelot – I know we will succeed.

Click on the image below to read our WLT Strategic Plan (2021-2025) in full

After years of making nature and science programmes people often ask me what is it that a person can do to make a difference. Looking at WLT’s decades of impact the answer is clear: as small as we may feel individually, we make a difference by coming together and protecting land. That is why I’m a Patron of WLT, and that is why I will continue to support them as they strive to grow their conservation action around the world in the coming years.

Steve Backshall,
WLT Patron



By 2025, WLT will aim to achieve the following:

  • Deliver more than £12 million to our conservation partners per year by 2025 – double what we achieved in 2021.
  • Bring at least 2,500,000 acres into conservation between 2021 and 2025, protecting as much in these five years as had been protected during WLT’s 30 previous years of operation.
  • Connect 5,000,000 acres of priority habitats during this same five-year span, contributing to landscape-scale conservation and the climate resilience of our partners’ reserves.
  • Use offsetting and other approaches to avoid the emission of 50,000,000 tCO2e in 2021-2025.

We will do this by:

  • Increasing our income by at least 15% year-on-year, protecting more land, saving more species and empowering more communities.
  • Diversifying our income streams to ensure greater resilience, with no single income stream accounting for more than 25% of total income.
  • Increasing the number of  WLT donors by 25% year-on-year, inspiring and engaging supporters in the work we do and empowering a movement of action for nature.
  • Joining with 12 new conservation partners by 2025, expanding our geographic scope and developing strong, long-term partnerships that deliver effective, replicable and scalable conservation.


Do you want to help WLT partners save millions of acres in just a few years?

There are lots of ways for you to make an impact with us. You can make a regular donation to our Action Fund as a WLT Friend; support a core programme like Keepers of the Wild; offset your emissions through Carbon Balanced; or even Buy an Acre or Plant a Tree on behalf of a loved one.

The threatened species and local communities supported by our partner projects rely on the generosity of people like you. Together, and with this new Strategic Plan as the guiding compass, we can make the impact the planet needs at this critical time.

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