Nature Conservation

Beyond our family’s longstanding passion for wild landscapes and the species that inhabit them, we believe today’s accelerated pace of ecosystem destruction and biodiversity loss constitutes an urgent and underappreciated global crisis that carries profound moral, spiritual, economic, cultural and public health consequences and demands far greater resources, attention and action.  The BAND Foundation aims to support a strategic portfolio of impactful initiatives that also serves to showcase scalable solutions and opportunities for reversing this alarming trend.  Specifically, we seek cutting-edge projects to:

  • conserve and restore biologically significant natural landscapes, with an emphasis on locally-led initiatives, solutions that blend conservation with enhanced livelihoods and approaches with the potential to inspire change at scale.
  • arrest urgent declines in and/or seek the recovery of specific wildlife and plant communities, especially where opportunities exist to work with compelling local partners and tell a broader story about biodiversity’s importance to human well-being.
  • galvanize a more enlightened human relationship with nature and stimulate an increasingly diverse, motivated and forceful global conservation movement by elevating biodiversity issues in the public consciousness.

The BAND Foundation favors work in areas where we know the players on the ground and where we believe donor funding and public attention have been disproportionately lacking.  This philosophy has led to concentrated investments in East Africa, in grassland conservation globally and in underappreciated but rapidly declining groups of species including bats, amphibians, vultures, seabirds and island plants.

Given the increasing impact of climate change on conservation efforts worldwide, we look for projects that incorporate climate resilience and adaptation as essential components of long-term sustainability.

 

Grants in Focus

Project: Strengthening the Maasai Mara’s Wildlife Conservancies
Grantee: Maliasili
Summary:  Kenya’s Maasai Mara region hosts some of the world’s largest and best known wildlife concentrations.  In total, the Greater Mara Ecosystem covers 4,500km2, two thirds of which encompass community and private lands, including 11 conservancies managed in partnership with the tourism industry for both wildlife and livestock.  Making sure these conservancies deliver for local people is a central challenge to ensuring the Mara’s future and an important test case for African conservation.  This project seeks to strengthen these conservancies by promoting integrated management and catalyzing sustainable economic enterprise.  The key implementing partner is the Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association, a membership organization representing the interests of the region’s designated conservancies.

Project: Making Community Conservation Deliver in Northern Tanzania
Grantee: Maliasili
Summary:  Northern Tanzania is one of Africa’s most important wildlife regions, anchored by iconic sites such as the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti, Tarangire and Manyara National Parks.  Wildlife utilizing these reserves depend heavily on key dispersal areas and migratory corridors, which tend to be community-managed and increasingly threatened by fragmentation and overgrazing.  They cannot be effectively conserved unless they also provide for the needs of local people.  This project supports efforts to strengthen Randilen, an 80,000-acre community-managed unit adjacent to Tarangire National Park and an integral part of the Tarangire/Manyara ecosystem.  Funding supports the work of Honeyguide to partner with communities in making Randilen financially viable, socially valued and increasingly self-sufficient.

Project: Catalyzing the Southeastern Grasslands Initiative (SGI)
Grantee: Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN
Summary: Though little known, the grasslands of the Southeastern United States are one of the most biologically rich and highly endangered ecosystems in the country.  Most of these treeless prairies, rocky barrens and glades, pine and oak savannas, coastal prairies, wet grasslands and mountaintop meadows have succumbed to development, farmland conversion and afforestation (the latter due to fire suppression).  Through preservation, restoration, research and seed-banking, SGI aims to transform grassland conservation across parts of 23 states.  Partners include multiple state and federal agencies, botanic gardens, universities and others.  BAND has issued a challenge grant aimed at leveraging additional support for SGI from other private, state and federal actors.

Project: Improving Grassland Management in Mongolia
Grantee: The Nature Conservancy in Mongolia
Summary: Mongolia boasts the largest remaining temperate grassland ecosystem on Earth, as well as one of the last nomadic cultures. In addition to sustaining human livelihoods, these grasslands shelter unique plants and animals and store significant amounts of carbon. They are under threat on a variety of fronts, including from overgrazing, mining, fossil fuel extraction and climate change. This grant funds a multi-year botanical survey to better understand the effects of overgrazing on grassland health and resiliency.  Results will be used to inform grassland management among key stakeholders, including herders, nature reserve managers, government agencies and conservation NGOs working in Mongolia and in other grassland systems globally.

Project: Saving the Grey Crowned Crane in Uganda
Grantee: International Crane Foundation
Summary: Grey crowned cranes, formerly abundant across East Africa, are now classified as endangered.  Wetland conversion and illegal trade are the primary drivers of this decline.  Cranes are important indicators of wetland health and have broader cultural significance, especially in Uganda where they are the national bird and featured on the national flag.  Uganda is one of the remaining strongholds for the species, and the crane’s survival there is closely tied to the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices that are likewise essential to poverty alleviation and economic development.  This grant supports a community-driven conservation program aimed at stabilizing and recovering crane populations, primarily in the Kabale region in the country’s southwest.  International Crane Foundation implements this project in partnership with Endangered Wildlife Trust and Nature Uganda.

Project: Growing the Impact of the Lion Recovery Fund
Grantee: Wildlife Conservation Network
Summary: Lion numbers have plummeted by an estimated 50% over the last 25 years largely as a result of direct persecution and habitat loss.  Beyond their important ecological role, lions are also fundamental to Africa’s multibillion dollar wildlife tourism industry.  The Lion Recovery Fund (LRF) seeks to halt and ultimately reverse lion decline through a comprehensive set of investments in priority projects aimed at supporting key wildlife areas, promoting coexistence between people and lions and tackling the illegal trade in lion body parts.  Housed at the Wildlife Conservation Network, the fund provides a cost-efficient, strategic mechanism for channeling philanthropic dollars toward the conservation of this flagship species and the ecosystems it inhabits.  BAND support targets the full range of LRF’s activities.

Project: Preventing Poisoning to Save Africa’s Vultures
Grantee: Birdlife International
Summary: Vulture populations in Africa are collapsing, with seven of Africa’s 11 species now at grave risk of functional extinction across large portions of the continent.  As highly efficient scavengers, vultures play an essential ecological role and may also assist in reducing the transmission of deadly diseases affecting humans and wildlife alike.  Poisoning, both direct and inadvertent, is the primary culprit killing off Africa’s vultures.  This project, focused in Kenya, funds critical research on vulture movement patterns, supports rapid response to poisoning incidents, educates communities on the value of vultures, encourages national policies that reduce the availability of poisons and seeks to stimulate additional financial commitments.  The Peregrine Fund and Nature Kenya are key implementing partners.

  

Project: High Island Habitat Restoration for Endangered Hawaiian Seabirds
Grantee: American Bird Conservancy
Summary: The Northwest Hawaiian Islands are a seabird nesting stronghold – supporting 6 million seabirds of 22 species including 98% of the global breeding population of Laysan and black-footed albatrosses.  With a mean elevation of only 1.7 meters, these islands are highly vulnerable to sea level rise, extreme storms and other climate-related impacts.  Elevated breeding grounds once occurred throughout the main Hawaiian Islands but were effectively wiped out by introduced mammalian predators.  This project supports construction of a predator-proof fence at Molokai’s Mokio Point to allow restoration of a critical breeding site and set an important precedent for high island seabird recovery.  Partners include the Molokai Land Trust, US Fish and Wildlife Service and Sacharuna Foundation.

Project: Responding to the Challenge of Emerging Wildlife Disease
Grantee: Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA)
Summary: Disease is rapidly emerging as a major threat to wildlife globally.  While wildlife diseases are not new, human actions are dramatically increasing their spread and impact.  Three specific emerging pathogens that affect bats, salamanders and sea stars are of immediate concern in the United States.  These families of animals play vital roles as ecosystem engineers across a range of habitats from agricultural landscapes to forests to intertidal zones.  This project provides funding for critical research and monitoring to better understand the diseases that threaten them, aims to catalyze a public policy framework for tackling wildlife disease more broadly and seeks to leverage additional dollars to address this critical issue.

Project: Saving Endangered Plants in Hawaii
Grantee: Plant Extinction Prevention Program
Summary: Hawaii is home to 45% of all federally listed endangered plant species in the United States. The Plant Extinction Prevention Program works to protect Hawaii’s rarest plants by tracking and monitoring populations, aiding in pollination (in the event the pollinator is no longer present), collecting seed and, if necessary, propagating plants ex situ in partnering botanic gardens.  Nonnative feral animals, invasive plants, fires and development have driven many of Hawaii’s rarest plants to the outermost limits of their historic ranges.  This grant supports urgently needed, high priority plant recovery actions by allowing helicopter access to areas that would otherwise be inaccessible due to their remote location and topography.

Project: The Age of Extinction
Grantee: theguardian.org 
Summary: The Guardian is one of the world’s most recognizable media brands and is a global leader in its environmental coverage.  This 18-month initiative will support expanded reporting on biodiversity issues in the lead-up to a critical meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity set to take place in China in late 2020.  Through print and photo journalism, videos, short documentary-style films and data-driven interactives, this project will engage The Guardian’s global network of correspondents to tell compelling stories from around the planet on the biodiversity crisis and solutions for addressing it.  BAND is supporting this effort in partnership with the Wyss Foundation.

Project: Expanding the Reach of bioGraphic
Grantee: California Academy of Sciences
Summary: bioGraphic is a free, online, editorially independent, non-profit magazine dedicated to showcasing the wonder of nature and the most promising solutions to sustaining life on Earth.  Powered by the California Academy of Sciences, bioGraphic uses an array of storytelling tools and techniques to address the worrisome lack of accessible, high-quality science reporting in today’s media landscape.  With its immersive visuals, inspiring narratives and rigorously reported information, bioGraphic aims to spark conversations, shift perspectives and inspire hope and action.  BAND funding will allow bioGraphic to expand its coverage and increase its reach.


 

 

 

Local Initiatives

Consistent with its broader conservation objectives, BAND supports a number of local projects in geographic areas where the family has deep roots, including coastal Maine, New York City and Long Island and the Piedmont region of Virginia.  Examples include:

Coastal Maine

Project: Restoring the Cromwell Brook Watershed in Acadia National Park
Grantee: Friends of Acadia
Summary: Acadia is one of America’s most visited national parks and at the cutting edge of public/private partnerships that assist in its conservation.  BAND supports Friends of Acadia – in collaboration with the Town of Bar Harbor and others – in the restoration of Cromwell Brook, one of the park’s key watersheds.

New York City

Project: Supporting a City-Wide Trails Coordinator
Grantee: Natural Areas Conservancy
Summary: New York City has 10,000 acres of wild lands – forests, grasslands and wetlands – within its limits. These areas buffer storms, absorb rainwater, clean the air and support native wildlife and plants. BAND funds a citywide trails coordinator who works to formalize trail systems, restore natural areas by knitting together fragmented habitats and build a team of dedicated volunteers.

Long Island

Project: Expanding Native Prairie Habitat in Nassau County
Grantee: Friends of Hempstead Plains
Summary: Prior to European settlement, some 40,000 acres of grasslands covered central Nassau County. Known as the Hempstead Plains, only a fraction of that habitat remains and is home to at least 14 globally rare plant species. BAND’s support will help restore a critical prairie remnant.

The Virginia Piedmont

Project: Controlling Non-Native Invasive Plant Species in the Virginia Piedmont
Grantee: Shenandoah National Park Trust—Blue Ridge PRISM
Summary: Invasive plant species pose severe threats to native ecosystems and agricultural landscapes.  BAND supports the Blue Ridge Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM), a collaboration between landowners, federal and state agencies, conservation organizations, and volunteers to control invasive plants in a 10-county area of the Virginia Piedmont.  

Nature Conservation. Epilepsy Care.