by Niloofar Ganjian,
WWF works to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth. Recognizing that the problems facing our planet are increasingly more complex and urgent, we have refined the way we work with an ambitious new strategy that organizes our efforts around six key areas: forests, oceans, freshwater, wildlife, food and climate.
To date, The UPS Foundation has awarded $400,000 to WWF’s Russell E. Train Education for Nature Program (EFN), allowing us to support six individuals and 39 organizations—and counting! EFN provides critical financial support to proven and potential conservation leaders in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to gain the skills and knowledge they need to address conservation challenges in their home countries.
WWF has a goal to restore 20 landscapes of outstanding importance within priority ecoregions by 2020. Thus in 2012, with support from The UPS Foundation, EFN launched the Reforestation Grants Program to fulfill this goal by supporting locally-based organizations working in WWF priority areas to plant, protect, and preserve trees. Together, these locally-led projects are helping to restore and reforest tropical areas of significant conservation value.
When carefully planned, forest restoration activities can provide environmental services to the local community and develop new habitats in formerly bare areas. Restoration and reforestation activities also provide an excellent way to involve local stakeholders, generate income, and allow communities to connect with nature and become a vested part of a larger conservation program. Connecting corridors, creating buffer zones, improving degraded lands, restoring watersheds, and expanding forest cover are just a few ways that forest restoration can have a real and lasting impact for conservation.
Support from The UPS Foundation has contributed significantly to expanding opportunities for reforestation practitioners worldwide. Through EFN, locally-based organizations can implement reforestation and restoration projects in critically important places. Demand for our Reforestation Grants continue to increase. In the March 15, 2015 deadline alone we received 141 applications. This brings the total number of applications received in 2014-2015 to 185, a thirty percent increase in the total number of applications over 2014. The sustained interest in the program is a strong indicator of the continued need to support reforestation projects worldwide.
Through EFN’s Reforestation Grant program, local organizations have planted more than 556,352 trees and trained more than 5,150 community members in 16 different countries. We are confident that the program’s outcomes will be a cost effective way to plant trees in ecologically important places, benefit conservation, strengthen local communities, and restore forest landscapes. Program outcomes thus far have been very successful, and EFN anticipates more great things to come. We are especially excited about upcoming activities, including the launch of our first reforestation practitioner’s workshop in June, which will bring our reforestation grant recipients together in Thailand. We’re looking forward to our continued partnership with The UPS Foundation.
Niloofar Ganjian is Program Associate, Russell E. Train Education for Nature Program, WWF-US
Find out about WWF at: www.worldwildlife.org/efn
Learn more about UPS’s sustainability efforts at ups.com/sustainability.