People say that in life there are no quick fixes. They also say that anything worth having is worth waiting for. Those people clearly never did any conservation work.
Conservation is surrounded by urgency right now, amid a push to protect land and biodiversity. But too often, that sense of imperative runs up against painstakingly slow processes for mobilizing conservation resources—even as private developers move at lightening speed.
Now, thanks to a new initiative from the Weeden Foundation, conservationists have access to a quick new path on a traditionally slow road.
Land acquisition is a favored tactic among conservationists for obvious reasons: When you own the land, you get to decide what happens to it. But land is fixed in supply, and since we can't create more of it, opportunities to buy important lands come at a premium—and with major competition to boot.
According to the Weeden Foundation:
When an opportunity to acquire some crucial piece of habitat becomes available, conservationists don’t always have the funds at their disposal to outbid other interested parties. And going through official channels to set aside protected lands can be a cumbersome process.
This is where the aptly named "Quick Response Biodiversity Fund," or QRBF, comes into play. The initiative, a partnership between the Weeden Foundation, its grantee 1% For The Planet—a network of more than 1,200 corporations that donate at least 1 percent of their sales to green causes—and the environmental policy-focused dispute resolution group RESOLVE, serves as a reserve funding pool allowing local conservation groups to pursue time-sensitive purchases of critical habitat for threatened and endangered species.
Since launching in February, the QRBF has contributed over $65,000 toward conservation and habitat protection:
- QRBF awarded its first grant ($25,000) to the Northern Jaguar Project to buy the 5,000-acre area that has historically been the center of the jaguar’s population base.
- The QBRF made its second grant ($15,000) to the American Bird Conservancy and its partner ProAves to protect 148 acres of habitat for the rare Santa Marta parakeet and dozens of other wild species restricted to an isolated mountain in Colombia.
- The QRBF’s third grant ($25,000) was awarded to Adopt a Panama Rainforest, adding 100 acres to the Chucanti Reserve in remote eastern Panama, a cloud forest home to rare frogs and plants new to science.
With a panel of some of the world’s leading experts in biodiversity—spanning North America, Central America, South America, Africa, Indo-Malaya, and Australasia—the QBRF is able to identify high-risk habitats and evaluate viable opportunities from all over the developing world. And since all of its operations operate on a strictly voluntary basis, the QRBF is able to avoid overhead costs and commit 100 percent of its donated funds exclusively for urgent, high-priority conservation projects.
OK, we know: This outfit is a tiny minnow compared to the whales of the conservation world, like the Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, groups we've written about in the past that raise and spend tens of millions of dollars annually. But with every corner of the natural world under siege, and conservation resources always limited, every new effort matters—and especially efforts designed to turn on a dime.