Supporting Grassroots Conservationists

Creative Commons: Chris Keats

The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) is a conservation organization offering funding, media training and recognition to support the work of proven grassroots conservation leaders in developing countries. These local leaders are often overlooked by larger conservation NGOs and go unsung by the global environmental community. Through the Whitley Awards, WFN seeks to:

1) Connect grassroots conservation leaders with NGOs and other leaders

2) Fund grassroots conservation leaders in biodiversity-rich, resource-poor areas

3) Train grassroots conservation leaders in how to effectively use publicity and speak publicly

4) Publicize grassroots conservation leaders and their stories

Whitley Award winners work in areas where people are most reliant on nature, effectively addressing threats to biodiversity by working closely with local people to find mutually beneficial solutions to problems including loss of natural habitat, overexploitation of natural resources, illegal trade and human-wildlife conflict. Importantly, the winners are nationals of the countries where they work, or deeply embedded in local culture, are collaborative, and are helping to create the next generation of leaders by training local people. Their work frequently spans multiple issues such as health, education, women’s empowerment, sustainable business, in-country capacity building, and social injustice, as well as biodiversity conservation.

WFN has built a vibrant network of 190 local environmental heroes in over 80 countries across the developing world. Becoming part of the Whitley network encourages inter-winner knowledge sharing and partnership, which has the power to deliver largescale change for local communities and endangered wildlife. It also helps them to become a stronger voice for local conservation effort worldwide than they could ever be as unconnected, individual voices. 

LDF is proud to partner with WFN to invest in these future leaders and ensure they continue to thrive and develop in increasingly difficult circumstances. WFN’s 25th Anniversary Impact Fund, which offers additional funding the most effective winners, helps fill a much-needed gap in the sector. Conservation does not happen overnight; this continuation funding has the ability to really lift an effective conservation project at key points throughout its development without leading to dependence, enabling the continued growth of high-impact projects where outstanding contributions to conservation are being made. 

Through collaborative partnerships, we support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, while restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities. Our work is divided into six main program areas – Wildlands Conservation, Oceans Conservation, Climate Change, Indigenous Rights, Transforming California, and Innovative Solutions.

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