The single greatest threat to biodiversity today is the loss and degradation of natural habitats. Over 5,000 threatened species are known to be entirely unprotected and at least 1,000 of these are restricted to a single site globally.
Tropical moist forests harbor a at least two thirds of terrestrial biodiversity despite occupying just 7 percent of the Earth’s land surface, and many species that inhabit tropical forests cannot survive anywhere else. The future of the diversity of life on Earth is intricately linked to the fate of tropical forests, as is the future of the last indigenous peoples who depend on large intact forests for their livelihoods, culture and survival.
We have already lost over a third of our planet’s forest cover, and millions of hectares of primary forest are being cleared, degraded or fragmented every year by increasing demand for agriculture land, animal agriculture, extractive industries, and fuel and timber extraction.
Protection of biodiverse tropical forests is by far the most cost-effective way of addressing many of our global problems, from climate change to freshwater availability.
Our Acre for Nature Initiative focuses on identifying and safeguarding key ecosystems that are home to the highest concentrations of unique and threatened wildlife, and working with local partners and communities to create and expand protected areas through mechanisms that include (our approaches are always based around working with local partners to tailor unique solutions to the needs and challenges of the area) purchasing land as private reserves and establishing Indigenous and community conserved areas.
We provide the resources and technical expertise needed to effectively manage these protected areas through improved planning, capacity building, mentoring and community engagement, and develop mechanisms for sustainability that include payments for ecosystem services and updating legislation for nature protection. Where additional information is needed to develop management plans for high priority sites, we undertake targeted field exploration and research. Monitoring and evaluation are central to our conservation work.
Over the past ten years, we have worked to conserve wildlife and habitat in over 40 countries and have helped establish over 20 new nature reserves, home to over 100 endangered species and 20,000 species overall (examples below).
GWC’s leading scientists, with field experience in over 50 countries, have built an extensive network of allied researchers and conservationists that are key to success. In addition to our network of partners in the field, we have strategic partnerships with major international organizations to enable us to dramatically scale up our conservation efforts while maintaining a lean and efficient organization. GWC is a founding member of the Key Biodiversity Areas Partnership, established by twelve of the world’s leading nature conservation organizations to identify, map and conserve the most important sites for life on earth. Through these strategic partnerships GWC is positioned to dramatically scale up protection of the world’s most irreplaceable wild places.