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Funding the Long-term Protection of Nature


With its sights set on the future, Conservation International is committing to the long-term protection of the world’s most valuable natural areas through funding that will last for generations.

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      Protecting the planet's most precious and beautiful places requires a steady stream of resources and funding, but compared with the value of what nature provides, it's actually a bargain.

      Think of it this way: If you invested your life savings, you could expect to benefit from the annual returns year after year. Protecting nature is similar to making a successful investment. It provides vital annual returns in the form of income, food, water and more. Yet humanity spends very little on protecting nature.

      "People use nature because it's valuable, but people lose nature because it's free," said economist and Conservation International (CI) board member Pavan Sukhdev. "The pollination of bees is free, but no bee ever sent you an invoice. It's that whole attitude of not realizing that nature is valuable that drives part of its destruction."

      This is wh​​ere CI's Global Conservation Fund (GCF) steps in. GCF is helping countries and communities protect important natural areas for the long run.

      Established in 2001 through a US$ 100 million donation from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, GCF spent many of its early years assisting in the establishment of protected areas — 77 in all.

      Often there is initial funding to establish protected areas and reserves, but no money to support operating expenses. A continuing flow of financial resources is required to pay staff, pu​​rchase equipment, engage local communities, conduct natural resource monitoring, and enforce rules and boundaries.

      "A lot of conservation work suffers from the up and down cycles of grant funding," said Chris Stone, managing director of GCF. "Projects are often constrained by the availability of funds to support ongoing work. GCF was established to address those problems in some of the world's biodiversity-rich ecosystems."​​

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        EditImage Alt Text:Matschie's tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei) mother and infant
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        EditCaption Description:Family of Matschie's tree kangaroos, an endangered species native to the Huan Peninsula of Papua New Guinea. GCF has provided more than US$ 2 million since 2002 to support the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program.
        EditPhoto Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Russell A. Mittermeier

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        EditImage Alt Text:Man in native dress at the Celebration of the YUS Conservation Area Dedication in the Teptep village, Papua New Guinea
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        EditCaption Description:​YUS Conservation Area dedication in Papua New Guinea. GCF and the Woodland Park Zoo each contributed US$ 1 million for an endowment fund to finance management of the protected area.
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        Edit Image Alt Text:Turtle in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA)
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        Edit Caption Description:GCF and the Republic of Kiribati recently established the Phoenix Islands Protected Area Conservation Trust, a conservation fund that aims to finance the continuing costs of one of the world's largest marine protected areas.
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        Edit Image Alt Text:Gordon Moore and brown lemurs, Andasibe, Madagascar
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        Edit Caption Description:Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel Corporation and long-time conservation supporter, is greeted by lemurs in Madagascar. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation provided US$ 100 million to establish GCF.
        Edit Photo Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Russell A. Mittermeier
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        Edit Image Alt Text:Mountains, Khobi Georgia
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        Edit Caption Description:GCF joined forces with the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, WWF and the German government to launch the Caucasus Nature Fund. It provides long-term financial support for protected areas in the Caucasus biodiversity hotspot.
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        Edit Caption Description:Kayapó woman with children. GCF, along with CI, contributed US$ 4 million, as well as technical expertise, to establish the Kayapó Fund, the first trust fund exclusively dedicated to the long-term support of the Kayapó people.
        Edit Photo Credit:© Cristina Mittermeier
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        Edit Caption Description:In the Central Cardamom Protected Forest in Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains, GCF supports collaboration between Cambodia's Forestry Administration and CI's Cambodia program to conserve the forest.
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        Edit Caption Description:With help from CI's Guyana program and GCF, the Government of Guyana launched a US$8.5 million protected areas trust fund, the first of its kind for the country.
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        ​Places such as the YUS Conservation Area in Papua New Guinea where tree kangaroos bound through the montane forests; the Gola Rainforest National Park in Sierra Leone where birds, butterflies and chimpanzees roam; and the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in the Pacific nation of Kiribati where sharks, tuna and coral reefs thrive in one of the world's largest marine protected areas.

        It's up to the governments, organizations and communities who run these areas to find sources of long-term funding; otherwise, these places become more vulnerable to environmental degradation.​

        GCF works with its partners to develop sustainable management plans, ensure that local communities benefit from conservation and establish long-term financing mechanisms to maintain these areas in perpetuity.

        One solution to the problem of ongoing costs is conservation trust funds. With the help of donors and other partners, GCF has established 15 funds totaling more than US$ 135 million. Raising money initially takes place through gathering principal funding from GCF and other donors.

        The interest generated by the resulting investments provides financial security for the protected areas. Local communities benefit in the form of jobs, training and development projects​.

        The success of these funds depends not only on money, but also on the partners involved. GCF has worked with a diverse array in establishing financial mechanisms — from multilateral donors such as the World Bank to national governments, private foundations and multinational companies as well as local nonprofit organizations. This variety of partners weaves together a strong constituency for conservation.

        In addition to trust funds, GCF is involved in initiatives that benefit globally-important ecosystems. It has assisted in the development of debt-for-nature swaps in multiple countries, facilitating foreign debt forgiveness in exchange for the creation and expansion of protected natural areas.

        Increasingly, GCF is also engaging corporations, including major mining, oil and gas companies working in sensitive ecosystems. GCF advises them on structuring long-term ​financing mechanisms to support conservation offset programs.

        Throughout all of its activities, GCF is helping people around the globe realize the value of nature by investing in it now and for generations to come.

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        EditSection Description:The GCF is helping countries and communities protect important natural areas for the long run.
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        EditText:Helped create or expand 77 protected areas in 26 countries, totaling more than 80 million hectares (198 million acres) — twice the size of Japan.

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        EditText:Helped conserve critical habitat for more than 500 globally-threatened species.

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        EditResult value:2,000
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        EditText:Directly created nearly 2,000 jobs in GCF-supported protected areas.

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        EditResult value:$135M
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        EditText:Established 15 protected area endowments totaling US$ 135 million, including US$ 109 million in additional funds leveraged from partners.
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        EditSection Title:Working Together
        EditSection Description:CI works with many partners — from the heads of families to heads of state — to restore our planet's balance so that people everywhere can thrive. It's a serious mission but, as these stories highlight, it's also a personal one.
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        EditImage 1 Alt Text:Kayapo, Brazilian Amazon 2006
        EditImage 1 Photo Credit:© Cristina Mittermeier
        EditImage 1 Header:Guardians of the Forest
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        EditImage 1 Content:An innovative trust fund has been created to help indigenous people in the Brazilian Amazon protect their land and secure economic independence.
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        EditImage 2 Alt Text:Serge Rajaobelina
        EditImage 2 Photo Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Russell A. Mittermeier
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        EditImage 2 Content:Conservationist Serge Rajaobelina is combining long-term funding and community engagement to transform Madagascar's unique natural wealth into prosperity for its people.
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        EditTitle:Funding Conservation
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        EditImage Alt Text:Kayapó Woman with Children. © Cristina Mittermeier

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