The Wildlife Conservation Society has received $25 million in two separate grants from Ballmer Group to support forest conservation to help address the climate crisis. A grant of $20 million will support WCS’s work to protect the forests of the Congo Basin by 2030. A second grant of $5 million will support WCS’s Forest Frontiers Approach, working with small-scale farmers to reduce frontier expansion into critically important forests. Investing in small-scale farmers is a proven strategy for reducing deforestation and related carbon emissions, conserving biodiversity, and enhancing resilience to climate change.

Ballmer Group is supporting WCS as part of their larger philanthropic investment of $149 million in a suite of projects at the intersection of forests, people, and climate change. Protecting the Earth’s forests is critical for constraining global warming. Forests remove 30% of the excess CO2 we add to the atmosphere each year. In the tropics, forests also cool the atmosphere directly — by transpiring water from the soil into the atmosphere they act like a natural air conditioner and create moisture that travels through the atmosphere and becomes rainfall over some of the most important agricultural regions of the world. The world’s forests are more critical than ever as we face a narrow window of time to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. High-integrity forests, like those in the Congo Basin, are of particular importance because they provide multiple benefits such as carbon absorption, “biophysical” cooling, and biodiversity conservation. Preventing forest degradation through methods such as the Forest Frontiers Approach will also help protect forests and our climate.

Dan Zarin, WCS Executive Director of Forests and Climate Change, said: “Preserving the Earth’s most valuable carbon sinks, including high integrity forests and peatlands, is one of the best, most cost-effective strategies we have for preventing the worst impacts of climate change. This grant from Ballmer Group will advance WCS’s goal to protect high-integrity forests and avoid future degradation of these critical areas.”

Emma Stokes, Vice President of WCS Field Conservation, said: “The Congo Basin is the most biodiverse region in Africa and the world’s single largest tropical net carbon sink. Advancing our efforts to protect these valuable ecosystems will provide benefits not only for the climate, but for wildlife and local communities that depend on them.”

Sam Ballmer, Climate Lead for Ballmer Group, said: “The need to act and the opportunity for philanthropy to play a significant, global role is clear. The science is evident and astounding. We know every tenth of a degree of warming matters to the health of the planet—and that every action that we can take today will make exponentially more positive impact than if we continue to delay action. My family and our philanthropy are committed to act with the urgency and longevity that the global climate crisis requires. To accomplish this, we are working closely with established climate leaders to ensure that our first contributions can have a significant impact."