Nurturing our partners
Fauna & Flora is committed to forming partnerships and forging links that contribute to the long-term survival of threatened species and habitats. Supporting in-country partners who request Fauna & Flora’s help also gives us a much stronger mandate than if we were to march in with our own agenda.
Fauna & Flora’s approach to the development of relationships with other organisations is pragmatic, and our definition of partnership is deliberately flexible. In addition to several hundred so-called primary partners – those with whom we jointly run projects or to whom we provide significant institutional, financial or technical support – we also collaborate more widely with hundreds of other organisations.
We have invested in sharing practical conservation lessons since the publication of the society’s very first journal in 1904, and for many years have led the way in supporting organisational and personal development in the conservation arena.
Whether the support is formal or informal, our overall objective is to strengthen organisations to make them better able to sustain their conservation activities independently and to meet their own continued development and resource needs. Sometimes, this simply involves providing a helping hand to a well-established organisation in order that it can reach its full potential; sometimes an institution needs restructuring; occasionally an entirely new organisation needs to be created. We tailor our support accordingly, but in all instances we are demand-led, responding to requests for assistance rather than setting the agenda ourselves.
Traditionally, every one of Fauna & Flora’s local partners has benefited from one-to-one support geared to its own specific needs, but many of these organisations often encounter the same generic problems. Therefore, we are increasingly encouraging our partners around the world to develop their own peer support networks.
Strength in depth
One obvious way to achieve maximum reach for minimum cost is to provide access to online support resources. With this in mind, we joined forces with other members of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative to develop and launch capacityforconservation.org. This website enables organisations to assess and plan their own development while simultaneously benefiting from FFI’s one-to-one bespoke partner input. Resources and case studies are shared among partner organisations to create a community that can learn from the experiences and mistakes of those who have already trodden a similar development path. Currently, over 500 organisations from almost 200 countries are taking advantage of this facility.
This is a two-way learning process. We derive enormous benefit from working with in-country partners. Every interaction exposes Fauna & Flora to a rich variety of working practices and enhances our understanding of the cultural, political and social context in which we operate. This creates a virtuous circle whereby we continually improve our own ability to achieve positive conservation results while simultaneously performing that service for others.
Building a worldwide network of strong conservation organisations is fundamental to all that we have achieved and will achieve in future. Some of these partnerships are still in their infancy. Others are decades old. All of them represent a long-term commitment that ultimately leads to more positive outcomes than a quick-fix approach. Sustainability is the key.
The increasing independence of our long-term partner in Belize epitomises how Fauna & Flora’s approach is enabling local communities to become more effective custodians of their own natural heritage. Ya’axché Conservation Trust was founded in 1998 to manage the recently purchased Golden Stream Corridor Preserve.
This biologically rich, culturally significant and economically valuable watershed was saved from destruction thanks to generous funding from Halcyon Land & Sea, and the legal title was transferred to Ya’axché. In the intervening two decades, with Fauna & Flora support, Ya’axché has evolved from a handful of committed individuals to a flourishing and nationally recognised leader in conservation and sustainable development.
In 2008 the Belize government selected Ya’axché to co-manage the 40,000-hectare Bladen Reserve, one of the most biologically rich areas in Central America. Four years later Ya’axché’s executive director, Lisel Alamilla, was appointed Minister of Fisheries, Forestry and Sustainable Development, a prime example of what Fauna & Flora hopes to achieve by helping to nurture in-country organisations.