Foundation for Deep Ecology: Grants for Conservation

OVERVIEW: Since 1990, the Foundation for Deep Ecology has made grants to nonprofit organizations working for conservation. It's interested specifically in biodiversity and wildness, ecological agriculture, and globalization and megatechnology. The foundation gives to activist and progressive conservation projects in South America, and also publishes books and supports the “intellectual infrastructure” of the environmental movement.

IP TAKE: The foundation adheres to the Deep Ecology Platform that seeks deep, immediate, and drastic change in how humans interact with nature. It does not accept unsolicited proposals, so get to know and work with the foundation first.

PROFILE: The foundation has assets of around $42 million, giving around $1 million annually in grants in recent years. Grantmaking is almost all for conservation efforts in South America, but the funder also publishes books on environmentalism, and supports the intellectual strength of the movement through magazines, journals, conferences, and advertising campaigns.

The philosophy and name of the foundation come from the writings of Norwegian outdoorsman and thinker Arne Ness, who coined the term “deep ecology,” in contrast to the “shallow ecology movement.” The difference being that the former is about challenging humanity’s values and the root causes behind environmental degradation. The latter is more focused on quick or temporary fixes, such as recycling or improving vehicle mileage.

It’s an activist approach for environmental giving, based on the idea that our future way of life must be drastically changed, and valuing richness and diversity of life independently of how it serves human needs. The weighty goals of the foundation perhaps explain why a big part of its efforts go toward “intellectual infrastructure.” The principle is that, similar to the work the political right has done in promoting ideas of the unhindered free market through think tanks and such, the environmental community needs to follow suit. The foundation seeks to create a deeper and more effective platform from which to challenge the world view of those who would defend corporate polluters.

They fund symposiums and conferences, journals like Wild Earth and Resurgence, as well as the anti-corporate magazine that sparked the Occupy Movement, AdBusters. Its book publishing program has released works on energy policy, industrial agriculture, mountaintop mining, down to simple appreciation of national parks. The publishing program doesn’t, however, accept unsolicited book proposals.

In the past 10 years or so, the foundation has mostly given grants to campaigns in Chile and Argentina (although not exclusively), with stateside giving mostly related to its publishing wing.

One example of the Biodiversity and Wildness giving is funding for the Washington-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which has received regular six-figure grants for its work to protect marine biodiversity.

Ecological Agriculture grants have regularly gone to The Land Institute for its research-based work to promote stable agricultural systems. 

Past Globalization and Megatechnology grant recipients include the International Society for Ecology and Culture, and the International Center for Technology Assessment. 

PEOPLE: 

  • Douglas Tompkins, President
  • Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, Vice President
  • George Wuerthner, Ecological Projects Director

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