Nature Pays | WWF
© 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 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.

“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)

Nature Pays – supporting over 200 community enterprises in more than 50 countries

From cocoa farming in Bolivia to gorilla conservation in Uganda to bamboo harvesting in the Mekong Delta, WWF’s global network currently supports more than 200 community enterprises across the world.

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


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 

- Funding - 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.



Hina West: