Nature Conservation

Beyond our family’s longstanding passion for nature and the outdoors, we believe that today’s unprecedented pace of ecosystem destruction and biodiversity loss poses one of the world’s most urgent and underappreciated crises – one with profound moral, spiritual, economic, cultural and public health consequences.  In response, we award funding to:

  • Cutting-edge initiatives in and around iconic natural landscapes that offer effective, scalable and replicable conservation models;
  • Programs seeking to arrest rapid and urgent declines in targeted wildlife and plant communities, especially where public attention and donor funding have been severely lacking.
  • Projects aiming to galvanize a more enlightened human relationship with nature and build a deeper, more diverse and more forceful conservation movement.

In selecting grants within the above thematic areas, we seek to back visionary institutions and individuals, improve the connections between science and policy, stimulate the flow of additional conservation dollars (from both the philanthropic and private sectors) and encourage strategic partnerships.

Grants in Focus

Project: Building Next Generation Impact Across the Maasai Mara’s Community Conservancies
Grantee: Friends of Kenya Wildlife Trust
Summary: Kenya’s Maasai Mara region hosts some of the world’s largest and most iconic wildlife concentrations, including important populations of large carnivores.  In total, the Mara ecosystem covers 4,500 square kilometers, just 1,510 km2 of which lies within the state protected Maasai Mara National Reserve.  The remaining two-thirds is made up of community and private lands, which currently include 11 operational conservancies at various stages of development comprising 1,050 km2 and increasing protected area coverage of the region from 26% to 43%.   Making these conservancies work, for both people and wildlife, is a central challenge to ensuring the future of the Mara ecosystem and an important test case for African conservation more broadly.  This project seeks to help enable these conservancies to become durable engines for local economic development through sustainable tourism while offering an innovative model for how wildlife and livestock can successfully coexist at the landscape level.  The key implementing partner is the Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA), a membership organization that represents the interests of the region’s designated conservancies.

Project: Supporting the Rangers of Virunga National Park
Grantee: Virunga Fund, Inc.
Summary: Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is Africa’s oldest and most biodiverse protected area, best known for its population of endangered mountain gorillas.  The park faces enormous challenges from a seemingly unending cycle of regional armed conflict, criminal exploitation of the its natural resources, and a growing and highly impoverished local population.  In spite of these threats, Virunga has emerged as an unlikely conservation success story thanks to the extraordinary commitment of its park rangers and the visionary leadership of its park director.  In addition to curtailing poaching and addressing other immediate concerns, Virunga has made important strides towards its ambitious goal of becoming an economic engine for the region – through tourism, renewable energy and sustainable fishing.  Partners include the European Union, US Fish and Wildlife Service and Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.  BAND’s support addresses urgent core park needs, including salaries, rations and medical care for rangers.

Project: Launching the Southeastern Grasslands Initiative (SGI)
Grantee: Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN
Summary: Though little known, the grasslands of the Southeastern United States harbor globally significant plant and animal biodiversity. These ecosystems include treeless prairies, rocky barrens and glades, pine and oak savannas, coastal prairies, wet grasslands, and high-elevation mountaintop meadows. Most have succumbed to development, farmland conversion, and afforestation (the latter due to fire suppression). SGI is the first organized region-wide effort to address the imminent threats facing these grasslands. Through preservation, restoration, research and seed-banking, it seeks to transform grassland conservation across an area that includes parts of 23 states. Partners include the North Carolina Botanical Garden, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. BAND Foundation funding supports SGI’s start-up phase and aims to assist the initiative in leveraging support from other private, state and federal actors.

Project: Preventing Poisoning to Save Africa’s Vultures – Nature’s Misundertood Heroes
Grantee: Birdlife International
Summary: Vulture populations in Africa are collapsing, with seven of Africa’s 11 species now at grave risk of becoming functionally extinct.  Serving as nature’s clean up crew, vultures are essential in reducing disease transmission.  Their unparalleled efficiency as scavengers greatly reduces the chance for rabies, anthrax and other deadly afflictions to take hold and threaten humans and wildlife alike.  Poisoning, both direct and inadvertent, is the primary culprit killing off Africa’s vultures.  This project, focused in Kenya, seeks to encourage rapid response to poisoning incidents, educate communities on the value of vultures, encourage national policies that reduce the availability of poisons and stimulate additional financial commitments toward vulture conservation.  Key project partners include Nature Kenya and The Peregrine Fund.

Project: Wildlife Health is Wildlife Hope: Toward a More Effective Response 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.

Nature Conservation. Epilepsy Research. Climate Change.