Sustainable use of natural resources, including protection of the biodiversity that underpins our essential life support systems, is in the long-term interest of everyone on this planet.
Realistically, however, the future may be of little concern for those whose short-term survival depends on scraping a living on the fringes of a protected forest, or – at the other extreme – those who are under pressure to make a quick profit for hungry shareholders.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) operates at both ends of this spectrum, working with marginalised local communities and powerful global investors alike to develop sustainable economic opportunities that also help to safeguard threatened species and habitats.
Our Conservation Finance & Enterprise team works at the interface between conservation and business, focusing on landscapes that are rich in biodiversity. By providing strategic support to small- and medium-sized enterprises that promote sustainable livelihood choices, our pioneering activities are driving a greening of economies at a local level and ensuring that communities reap maximum reward for managing their natural environment sustainably.
At the same time, we are engaging with financial institutions in order to underscore the fundamental importance of biodiversity to business, and to ensure that investment decisions and statutory reporting take full account of nature’s intrinsic value and of the risks inherent in supporting companies that are knowingly trashing the planet at everyone else’s long-term expense.
Livelihoods & governance
The focus of this work is to support the establishment and growth of sustainable small-scale business initiatives – such as honey production and low-impact tourism – that contribute to our overall conservation goals. To achieve this, the team works with colleagues and partners to enable them to identify promising enterprise opportunities, and help nurture these embryonic businesses to the point where they are financially and operationally sustainable, capable of achieving self-sufficiency and generating livelihood benefits explicitly linked to positive conservation outcomes.
Improving access to ethical international markets for local producers is a vital facet of this work. By demonstrating that local enterprise has enormous potential to generate socio-economic benefits and, in the process, to safeguard biodiversity, we aim to achieve a shift in conservation practice from a focus on grant funding towards greater use of enterprise approaches and alternative sources of finance to support conservation.
An integral part of FFI’s approach to safeguarding forests and other landscapes that have high conservation value is our work to ensure that the communities themselves, as land stewards, benefit directly from payments for the ecosystem services they help to protect. One such mechanism is community REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), whereby communities help prevent the release of carbon by managing their forests sustainably rather than cutting them down. In choosing to keep their forests intact, they generate carbon credits that can be sold or used by governments to demonstrate their commitments to reducing emissions.
FFI is working to establish fully operational REDD+ projects in Indonesia, Vietnam and Liberia. We are also pursuing strategic opportunities to establish new payment for ecosystem services models and support livelihoods activities that diversify sources of income in these landscapes and increase local incentives for long-term sustainable land use and forest protection.
Piloting the implementation of a REDD+ programme in Wonegizi Proposed Protected Area
REDD+ and community forest management in Liberia and Myanmar
Just as the investment decisions of the financial sector have a huge impact on biodiversity, the risks associated with poor management of natural capital (misusing nature’s finite resources, in other words) can have serious implications for investors. FFI works closely with financial institutions to increase awareness of the impacts that their investments have on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to help ensure that risk assessment and management processes take full account of these institutions’ dependency on natural capital.
As the finance sector focuses increasingly on the long-term sustainability of its investments, companies engaged in the exploitation of natural resources are realising that a negligent or careless attitude towards biodiversity will damage not only their reputation but also their bottom line.
FFI is also advising on the development of new conservation finance instruments that are attractive to both mainstream finance institutions and impact investors (whose priority is environmental rather than financial return on their investment). We are helping to direct appropriate sources of impact investment towards our NGO partners and local enterprises in strategically important landscapes in order to achieve positive results for biodiversity conservation and sustainable funding for these conservation initiatives.
Find out how we influence businesses and industry players to ensure that biodiversity makes it onto the corporate agenda.
Rural communities often face significant barriers to developing ecologically sustainable, economically viable and socially acceptable livelihoods strategies.