Conservation Endowments: The Key to Long-term Sustainability

The commitment needed to conserve biodiversity requires a long-term time horizon and reliable financing. This fact is often at odds with the structure of conservation funding sources which tend to operate on relatively short (1 to 3-year) grant cycles. As a result, many conservation projects with long-term (even inter-generational) objectives are forced to survive on year-to-year funding and are at constant risk of running out of cash.

To address this issue, the Conservation Agreement Fund has entered into a partnership with UBS Financial Services to establish a series of project-level endowments. Endowments are a standard tool used for funding hospitals, museums, universities, and other permanent institutions. They are central to protecting the world’s most important cultural and artistic treasures but their use in protecting the living treasures of life on earth remains surprisingly rare. One authoritative source puts the number of conservation trust funds world-wide at 60 (Adams and Victorine, 2011). By comparison, nearly every college and university in America has at least one endowment (and Harvard has more than 12,000).

A CAF endowment offers advantages that are available to very few conservation projects in developing countries, including first and foremost, greater sustainability in year-to-year funding. This allows for more efficient project delivery, longer-term agreements with local communities, stronger community buy-in for conservation, and ultimately, better protection for biodiversity. Endowments are a particularly attractive funding option for conservation agreements given their long-term time horizon and clearly defined recurrent annual costs that must be covered for projects to function.

In addition to promoting funding sustainability CAF endowments actively work to build local financial accountability and capacity by tying year-to-year disbursements to periodic audits.

All CAF endowments offer investments in stable, dollar denominated accounts, as well as access to the U.S. stock market, tax deductible contributions, and institutional-level management by UBS Financial Services. For more information contact Richard Rice ( at CAF and consult our Conservation Endowment Frequently Asked Questions. You may also download this information in PDF format.

The Arbor Group at UBS provides fee based asset management for foundations, endowments, and high net worth families. They work globally with conservation trust funds and endowments and specialize in socially and environmentally responsible investments.

The Conservation Agreement Fund is the only non-profit devoted entirely to supporting conservation agreements in developing countries. Conservation agreements offer a practical alternative to destructive resource development by linking global support for biodiversity with the people in a position to provide its conservation, in effect creating a new market for direct investment in conservation itself.

Adams, John S. and Ray Victorine. 2011. Permanent Conservation Endowments: A Study of Long-term Benefits. UBS Financial Ser-vices/Wildlife Conservation Society.


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