Wyss Campaign for Nature partnerships helped protect 12.2 million acres of land around the globe in 2018

Aconquija National Park and Reserve, Argentina

Aconquija National Park and Reserve, Argentina

WASHINGTON — The Wyss Foundation’s philanthropy helped local communities and conservation organizations protect 12.2 million acres of land and 842,000 square kilometers of ocean around the globe in 2018. Over the course of the year, the foundation invested $70 million into conservation projects. These conservation gains are an important first step in the newly-launched Wyss Campaign for Nature, a $1 billion, ten year commitment made by philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss and the Wyss Foundation to accelerate the pace of conservation and slow historic rates of wildlife extinction.

“With four new national parks designated in Argentina, the world’s largest contiguous boreal forest protected area created in Canada, and over a dozen new national, regional, and municipal protected areas established across the Andes Amazon region in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador, our partners are making significant and steady progress towards protecting the planet’s last wild places,” said Molly McUsic, President of the Wyss Foundation. “But the threats to our planet’s lands, oceans, and wildlife are still enormous and urgent. We will continue working purposefully alongside our partners to safeguard critical lands and waters, bolster wildlife populations, and support conservation solutions that benefit people and places.”

The Wyss Campaign for Nature provides philanthropic support to local conservation groups and indigenous communities on five continents – North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Australia – to secure permanent protections and public access to lands, waters, and oceans. The total land area protected by Wyss Campaign for Nature partners in 2018 is equivalent in size to nearly five Yellowstone National Parks – or nearly the size of Costa Rica. The ocean area protected is larger than the land area of Sweden and Finland, combined. 

As Hansjörg Wyss, Chairman of the Wyss Foundation, explained when launching the Wyss Campaign for Nature, “Every one of us – citizens, philanthropists, business and government leaders – should be troubled by the enormous gap between how little of our natural world is currently protected and how much should be protected. It is a gap that we must urgently narrow, before our human footprint consumes the earth’s remaining wild places.”

To that end, the Wyss Campaign for Nature and its partners are pushing nations to set an ambitious goal to protect at least 30 percent of the planet by 2030 and to dedicate sufficient funding to effectively manage protected areas when world leaders meet at the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity that will be held in Beijing in 2020. The Convention on Biological Diversity – a sibling organization to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – last set protected area targets in 2010, when nations agreed to protect 17 percent of the world’s lands and 10 percent of the world’s oceans by 2020.

While the global community is expected to meet the nearly decade-old targets by the 2020 deadline, scientists and NGOs are in agreement that the current pace of land and ocean conservation, and the resources available, are insufficient to address the scale of the problem, which include: levels of extinction not seen in human history, pollution in drinking water and irrigation supplies, and continued loss of wilderness to sprawl and deforestation.

As the campaign works with our partners to increase global ambitions, the Wyss Campaign for Nature will continue to identify and provide philanthropic support to locally-supported conservation projects that protect critical lands and oceans.

As we look back on 2018, here are four notable success stories: 

  • Aconquija National Park and Reserve, Argentina: Partnering with Fundación Flora y Fauna Argentina, the Wyss Campaign for Nature helped permanently protect 67,500 acres within the park. 15,000 additional acres have already been protected in 2019.

  • Wyoming Range, United States: The Wyss Foundation provided $2,175,000 to the Trust for Public Land to protect 45,000 acres of land in the Wyoming Range through oil lease buyouts and retirements.

  • Chiribiquete National Park, Colombia: The Wyss Campaign for Nature helped the Andes Amazon Fund and local partner Fundación para la Conservación y el Desarrollo Sostenible (FCDS) expand this national park by more than 3.6 million acres.

  • Boreal Forest, Canada: Wyss Campaign for Nature was proud to support Canadian leaders in establishing four new wildland provincial parks that protect 3.3 million acres of land adjacent to Wood Buffalo National Park. Through this effort, Canada created the world’s largest contiguous boreal forest protected area.

Greg Zimmerman