Ranked by Forbes as one of the most philanthropic people in the world, Hansjörg Wyss had charitable foundations with assets of over $2 billion before his Wyss Campaign for Nature commitment in 2018. Wyss has pledged to donate $1 billion dollars over the next decade through a partnership with the National Geographic Society.
Prior to his 2018 pledge, the Wyss Foundation had already donated more than $450 million to conservation and wildlife protection programs around the world. Due to the work of Wyss and his foundation, almost 40 million acres of land and water have been protected to this day.
The Wyss Foundation Pledge
"For my part, I have decided to donate $1 billion over the next decade to help accelerate land and ocean conservation efforts around the world, with the goal of protecting 30 percent of the planet's surface by 2030," wrote Wyss in his Oct. 2018 New York Times Op/Ed, announcing his campaign.
So why do Wyss and his foundation care? According to the Wyss Campaign for Nature website, nearly two-thirds of the Earth's wetlands and half of all rainforests have been eliminated and we've lost 60% of Earth's wildlife population since 1970. The Wyss Campaign for Nature wants to help prevent further damage.
Caribbean Marine Protected Areas
The Wyss Campaign has pledged up to $2.9 million to support The Nature Conservancy's Blue Bonds for Conservation initiative. The Caribbean Sea contains 10% of the world's coral reefs, and has the greatest concentration of rare marine species in the Western Hemisphere.
Wyss' donation will go towards establishing protection for these endangered ecosystems and creating a long-term funding stream to ensure that the newly-protected areas are well managed in the future. The donation will also contribute to the reducing and restructuring of their sovereign national debt.
A new wilderness reserve will be acquired in Romania's Carpathia Mountains thanks to a Wyss Foundation grant of $3.5 million going to the Fundatia Conservation Carpathia. The Carpathia Mountains are known as the "Wild Heart of Europe," and are home to much of the continent's wild flora and fauna, including wolves, red deer, and brown bears.
This is not the first time the Wyss Foundation has contributed to the organization either. Wyss believes that "land conservation is a matter of international importance," and in 2016 he donated over 16,000 acres of forest land and alpine meadows to the Fundatia Conservation Carpathia.
Edéhzhíe Dehcho Protected Area
Wyss wrote in an April 2019 Op/Ed for the Toronto Star that “Canada is setting an inspiring example by increasing its investment in the protection and management of its natural areas,” which is why Wyss’ donation is going in part to the Edéhzhíe National Wildlife Area, located in Canada’s Northwest Territories.
Wyss is making a three-year $750,000 commitment to help protect the unique wetland ecosystem that provides essential habitat for migratory waterfowl, moose, bison, wolverine, and caribou. $250,000 has been immediately granted, and the remaining is contingent upon the designation of the area as an official National Wildlife Area.
Ansenuza National Park Project
The Wyss Campaign for Nature will be investing up to $5.8 million with Argentina's oldest conservation group - Aves Argentinas - to acquire and conserve nearly 65,000 acres of wetlands along the northern shore of Mar Chiquita. Chiquita is the largest saline lake in South America, and is a critical habitat for migrating birds, including three species of flamingoes, as well as the endangered maned wolf.
The donation will enable the creation of a more than 1.5 million acre national park in the Province of Cordoba. This is a joint initiative between the Province and Argentina's President Macri's administration.
The Wyss Foundation is providing an $8.5 million grant to the Andes Amazon Fund, who work with local communities, governments, and stakeholders to permanently protect headwaters at the Amazon River basin. The Andes Amazon Fund supports protected areas in Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Guyana, and Ecuador.
Prior to this donation, the Wyss Foundation has already supported the Amazon by contribution to the creation of 44 new protected areas within Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru. The new grant will ensure the protection of an additional 5 million acres in the coming years.