Nature Pays | WWF

Community enterprises – a crucial ally for conservation

For conservation to be effective, local communities must benefit from conservation efforts. This is the understanding at the heart of WWF’s Nature Pays initiative, which helps communities set up and run small enterprises that support conservation, including activities such as ecotourism and handicraft production.  

Communities organized around sustainable enterprises are powerful allies for conservation. By providing communities with a long-term economic benefit, they can build support for conservation, while providing positive outcomes for both people and nature. 

However, community enterprises often face significant obstacles in trying to make a sustainable living. Whether it’s the administrative challenge of establishing a business or a lack of capital to get things off the ground, these obstacles can prevent many enterprises from reaching their full potential. 

Nature Pays is helping community conservation enterprises in some of the world’s most important landscapes overcome these barriers, empowering them to gain access to markets, reduce the pressure on environmental resources, and ensure conservation benefits are equitably distributed.

 
© Meridith Kohut/WWF US
Helping communities make a sustainable living

Nature Pays

"By helping small producers make livings that reinforce conservation efforts, the Nature Pays initiative is supporting truly sustainable development in some of the world's most valuable landscapes. When properly enabled, community enterprises can be an integral piece of the conservation puzzle, benefitting both people and nature, and building a vital coalition of support behind the value of conservation"

- Hina West, Director, Nature Pays

Community Conservation Enterprises – a crucial ally for conservation

Conservation benefits when people benefit from conservation. This is the understanding at the heart of WWF’s Nature Pays initiative, a new global approach that aims to build the capacity of WWF's international network of offices to strengthen the development of Community Conservation Enterprises (CCEs) and improve outcomes for people and nature.

CCEs are small, locally-run businesses providing livelihoods that also support the protection of habitats and biodiversity. Communities organized around CCEs are powerful allies for conservation. By providing communities with a long-term economic benefit, they can build support for conservation, while providing positive outcomes for both people and nature.

However, CCEs often face significant obstacles in trying to make a sustainable living. Whether it’s the administrative challenge of establishing a business or a lack of capital to get things off the ground, these obstacles can prevent many enterprises from reaching their full potential.

Nature Pays - part of WWF's Markets Practice - leverages WWF's global expertise, contacts and resources to empower CCEs to gain access to markets, reduce the pressure on environmental resources, and ensure conservation benefits are equitably distributed.

© Day's Edge Productions / WWF-US

“Communities organized around forest-friendly economic activities have proven to be powerful defenders against the ever-present threats of illegal logging and industrial mining.”


The RAISG study analyzes 15 years’ worth of data and concluded that deforestation rates are 80 per cent lower in indigenous territories and conservation units than outside those areas.

- 2017, RAISG (Amazon Network of Georeferenced Socioenvironmental Information)

Supporting over 200 community enterprises in more than 50 countries

Reflecting our focus on communities as critical conservation partners, WWF works with more than 200 CCEs in over 50 countries across the globe - from cocoa farming in Bolivia to gorilla conservation in Uganda to bamboo harvesting in the Mekong Delta, When properly enabled, they can be integral in targeted efforts to protect some of the world's most biologically diverse landscapes, seascapes and riverbasins, making a vital contribution to WWF's global ambition for zero loss of habitats.

These businesses are engaged primarily in six key product types: timber, non-timber forest products, local food crops, fish and meat, handicrafts, and ecotourism.

© Luis Barreto / WWF-UK

Nature Pays supports community enterprises in six ways:

  • Community organizing – building the foundations for success by helping communities establish legal rights and access to decision-making structures
  • Product design – helping communities develop sustainable products that can generate a long-term livelihood
  • Operational capabilities – supporting the development of essentials including business planning, sales and marketing, and financial management 
  • Environmental monitoring – ensuring that businesses contribute to conservation by helping to establish monitoring schemes and environmental standards 
  • Investment – funding community enterprises directly or connecting them with other sources of potential funding
  • Market access – helping communities ensure that their products are reaching the right customers in the right markets

Contact

Hina West: HWest@wwf.org.uk