New Conservation Enterprise Development Fund Announced by WCS

CEDF helps local communities and wildlife prosper

From ibis-friendly rice in Cambodia to snail farming in Nigeria

Fund Receives $250K Grant from Acacia Conservation Fund

NEW YORK (Feb. 1, 2012) WCS announced today a new fund to help sustainable market-based conservation enterprises across the world that benefit both people and wildlife.

Called the Conservation Enterprise Development Fund (CEDF), the new program will support projects such as snail farming in Nigeria that offsets the need for illegal commercial hunting, rice growing in Cambodia that protects the habitat of endangered ibis species, wild cacao harvesting for chocolate in Bolivia to support indigenous community livelihoods, and gorilla trekking ecotourism in Congo.

The fund recently received a $250,000 grant from the Acacia Conservation Fund to pilot an award program for the most promising enterprises that maximize conservation, social, and economic returns. The pilot will provide business planning support, capacity building, and assistance in accessing debt capital to selected enterprises. WCS has identified nearly 60 enterprises and concepts in 28 countries that could eventually benefit from the new program. In the program’s first two years, CEDF expects to support up to six enterprises.

“This funding for CEDF from the Acacia Conservation Fund represents a significant opportunity to identify and start to develop the synergies between biodiversity conservation and economic development for the rural poor,” said Todd Stevens, WCS Executive Director of Global Initiatives. “By focusing the bulk of our efforts on identifying and supporting promising concept and early-stage enterprises, we are best able to complement and leverage the efforts of existing impact investors as well as encourage new ones to commit to supporting conservation through sustainable development.”

WCS currently invests hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in market-based conservation enterprises across 26 landscapes in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Collectively they improve the livelihoods of some 300,000 people, while contributing to the conservation of some of the world’s most biodiverse areas.

Many of the enterprises that WCS currently works with are profitable or nearly profitable, while some need either critical technical support or capital investment to reach sustainability. The purpose of the CEDF is to help scale up the ones with high potential for long-term sustainability, invest in promising new concepts, promote innovation, as well as implement lessons learned and best practices across sites.

“Our conservation strategies recognize that terrestrial and marine protected areas must be integrated into the broader ecological, social, and economic spaces that surround them if their biodiversity and productivity are to be sustained,” said Stevens. “CEDF builds on this idea by directing resources to the best market-based solutions to conservation issues.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit


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