Christopher Pupke, Biophilia Foundation

TITLE: Executive Director

FUNDING AREAS: Wildlife habitat protection and conservation

CONTACT: cpupke@cheswildlife.org

IP TAKE: Pupke manages all grant programs at Biophilia quietly, although he tends to favor large wildlife organizations over grassroots and community organizations.

PROFILE: Christopher Pupke has a vision. The executive director of the Biophilia Foundation runs its grant program and helps with their habitat conservation program.

Pupke has previously worked with Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage as a project manager, and his experience in the environmental field runs deep ever since he graduated from Drew University in Madison, NJ.: Pupke was previously a coordinator of Outdoor Education Coordinator at Pickering Creek Audubon Center, and currently serves as President of the Board of Directors for Queen Anne’s Conservation Association and on the Board of Trustees of Camp Wright.

The Biophilia Foundation's mission is to support projects and other efforts that seek to preserve biodiversity. The term "biophilia" was coined in 1984 by E.O. Wilson, and is a term used to describe the human being's natural tendency to prefer the planet's diversity, as well as acknowledgment that the survival of humanity depends greatly on how well we preserve that biodiversity. Outflowing from its chosen name, the foundation almost exclusively supports groups whose main focus is on the preservation, protection, restoration, and enhancement of wildlife habitat for any and all species of native animals and plants.

In support of the "biophilia" concept, the foundation also attempts to reconnect people with nature. It has found that when folks are aware of the value of biodiversity, they will work harder to support it. They also seek to fund projects designed to limit the friction between environmental and economic interests.

The first project of the Biophilia Foundation—and the impetus for the group's initial creation—is also one of its largest; the 3,300-acre Pritzlaff Ranch in northern New Mexico. When Mr. Pritzlaff passed away in 1997, he left behind a wish that the ranch and the natural resources on it be restored and preserved. Since those early days, the Foundation has been actively engaged in purchasing large sections of land, mostly farmland in the Chesapeake Bay watershed in Maryland and Virginia, so they could actively restore and preserve wildlife habitat in those areas. To accomplish this, Pupke even brought in the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage to develop restoration programs on Biophilia-owned lands.

Under Pupke's guidance, the Biophilia Foundation also supports a large number of organizations interested in restoring biodiversity and instituting conservation policies. It is working with Defenders of Wildlife on a project they created jointly, called the Living Lands Project, to buy up even more farmland and restore animal habitats. Recently, they made a $750,000 grant to Defenders of Wildlife for their part in that effort.  It is always looking for projects and partners who can expand the land trust concept, but its emphasis is not on donations, but investment.

Its overall goal is to make biodiversity conservation both ecologically effective and economically and financially rewarding. If your project has those qualities, there's a good chance you could receive assistance from Biophilia. It also looks to fund projects that are designed to expand and protect habitat corridors, and it also actively supports those projects that defend species at risk from encroachment by hostile economic and political interests. 

Some other examples of recent grantmaking include a grant of $199,800 to the Center for Biological Diversity in support of the Center’s two-year campaign to provide greater protection to the Delmarva fox squirrel; a $150,000 grant to the Scenic Rivers Land Trust support their efforts to implement the  South River Greenway project; and their $110,000 grant to Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage, in support of their efforts to restore and protect wildlife habitat in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.