African Parks, a South Africa-based conservation group that manages 19 protected areas covering 14.7 million hectares in several African countries, has secured a $100M commitment from the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation.
The grant, which will be allocated over the next five years, will be split between a $75 million endowment, that will fund organizational needs into perpetuity, and near-term support for parks under African Parks’ management, according to a statement put out by the NGO.
African Parks said some of the funds would go toward matching grants for Iona National Park in Angola and Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo under the Legacy Landscapes Fund, an initiative between European aid agencies and several NGOs that was established earlier this year.
African Parks’ CEO Peter Fearnhead said the gift will help sustain critical protected areas across Africa.
“Rob and Melani Walton’s commitment is uniquely visionary in providing a source of stable long-term funding that will contribute enduring protection for some of the most biodiverse, threatened landscapes on the planet. This could not come at a more important time, when investment in intact protected areas is urgently needed to address biodiversity loss, mitigate climate change, preserve invaluable ecosystem services, and create sustainable economic opportunities for people,” Fearnhead via the statement. “This extraordinary gift will help to realize our vision of protecting vast ecosystems and their ecological functions for humanity in perpetuity.”
African Parks said the gift was the largest-ever to its endowment. In 2017, the organization received $65 million from the Wyss Foundation in support of several parks.
“We are proud to support the public-private partnership model that makes African Parks so successful, and to help accelerate the organization’s ambitious 2030 goals,” said Rob Walton of the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation.
This article was first published by Mongabay.com on 16 September 2021. Lead Image: Elephants in Liwonde National Park, Malawi © Frank Weitzer and African Parks.
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