Conservation Finance Portal

The Conservation Finance Guide presents a host of potential financing opportunities for nature conservation in general, with a special focus on protected area management. Many of these finance mechanisms rely on a "market-based" approach, valuing and marketing the goods and services that a protected area generates in support of local livelihoods and the broader economy. Such mechanisms are an innovative departure for protected areas used to relying on short-term, grant funding. They should be considered as complementary funding sources to government appropriations, not a substitute.

This is not an easy subject, and is one that is often overlooked by conservationists because of the many demands on a protected area manager's time and a perceived lack of technical expertise. The Guide attempts to address this problem by increasing awareness and understanding of a range of conservation finance mechanisms for those without much experience in this area. Chapters are written to help users (i) understand; (ii) select; (iii) assess; and (iv) implement the most appropriate finance mechanisms for their particular situation. The flexible structure is designed to allow non-experts to get started and make tangible progress on conservation finance initiatives, as well as provide resources and ideas for those with more experience. Potential audience members include: government officials; protected area managers; conservation NGOs; technical consultants; and donor agencies.

To get started, we suggest you read the "Introduction" and "How to use this guide" links to the left. Alternatively, you can jump right into a specific finance mechanism of interest. The conservation finance mechanism "chapters" can be accessed by clicking on the links to the left.  Annexes to each chapter contain associated resource documents for readers interested in learning more, case studies, Microsoft Word and PDF versions of the chapter, and Excel spreadsheet tools. These tools are designed to help users organize their thoughts, begin to ask and answer questions about the viability of implementing a particular mechanism, make financial projections under varying assumptions, and take action to implement the most promising mechanism.

It is important to note that before attempting to identify and pursue new sources of financing, a solid financial foundation should be created by elaborating a "business plan" your protected area. Such a business plan is key to the sustainability of protected area management and therefore deserves significant attention. The basic steps of this process include:

  • Develop a management plan for your area that defines activities to be implemented
  • Quantify your financial needs according to the planned activities.
  • Identify existing and new potential funding sources and funding gaps
  • Taking these points into account, develop your fundraising strategy using material in this guide

This process is described more fully in the "Business Planning for Protected Areas" chapter which sets the context for the financial mechanisms chapters.  

Whatever financing option you pursue, it will be easier to implement it if you have a strong network of friends and supporters. Enthusiastic and creative people without much money can do a lot. A lot of money without good, enthusiastic and creative people is not as useful as one might think. It is important to keep in mind that the ultimate goal here is conservation, and conservation finance is a means to that end.

A broad alliance of NGOs, multi- and bi-lateral organizations known as the Conservation Finance Alliance (CFA) is contributing to the further development of this Guide and other concrete actions. More information on the CFA can be found on the "About this site" link below and on the CFA website.

We would appreciate if you could send us your e-mail feedback about the content and usefulness of this site via the "Contact Information" link below.  Any feedback on technical problems can be submitted to the "Feedback" link.

Sustainable Alterantives Network The Nature Conservancy Ramsar World Conservation Society World Wildlife Fund for Nature Latin American and the Caribbean Network of Environmental Funds IUCN
Conservation International Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit US Agency for International Development KfW Royal Society for the Protection of Birds National Parks Conservation Association (US) UNDP - Equator Initiative Danida