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This episode of Renegade Naturalist Radio features Dr. Richard E. Rice, Co-Founder and President of the Conservation Agreement Fund (audio player above.)
The Conservation Agreement Fund is the only non-profit devoted exclusively to supporting conservation agreements in developing countries, serving as, in Rice’s words, “a kind of mother ship” for their projects, providing technical assistance as needed and connecting them to funding sources here in the U.S.
I’m particularly interested in the The Conservation Agreement Fund’s unique, common-sense approach to conservation and land protection: Conservation agreements. Rather than using the long, complex political process of setting aside lands for parks, Rice’s approach involves agreements negotiated with resource owners that define a concrete conservation outcome—usually the protection of a particular habitat or species—in exchange for benefits designed to give resource owners an ongoing incentive to conserve. The type of benefits and manners in which the agreements are structured varies depending on the setting and the needs of those involved, but can include technical assistance, support for social services, or even direct cash payments.
And the results have been truly remarkable.
One example of Conservation Agreement Fund in action is a project they support in Kenya that compensates Maasai herdsman for livestock lost to predators in exchange for their commitment to not kill lions. In a region where lions once thrived but are now on the brink of local extinction, the agreement has virtually stopped the killing of predators across more than 300,000 acres.
As Richard explains on his website, the Predator Compensation Fund pays the Maasai for livestock killed by predators in return for a community-wide cessation of lion killing. The agreement's success protects lions (as well as other animals) entirely outside of parks, providing a model for conservation of critical, unprotected areas, complete with roaming prides of lions, wild herbivores, and people. The result is that no lions were killed in Kenya’s Mbirikani for more than seven years. “That’s an amazing success story,” Rice said, “we have real, measurable proof that involving the local Maasai in lion and landscape conservation on their traditional lands is having a powerful effect.”
For learn more about the Conservation Agreement Fund, or to make a donation, visit www.conservationagreementfund.org.
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