Today at WILD9 / Hoy en WILD9

WILD9 is a success! Over the 8 days of WILD9, we gathered together to THINK, FEEL and ACT.

WILD9 was opened by President Felipe Calderon, and attended by 1800 delegates from 50 countries, with 10,000 on-line participants from 100 countries. WILD9 conveyed an extraordinary atmosphere of hope and enthusiasm, hosted a diverse range of working session and featured a plenary program with world leaders such as Dr. Jane Goodall; Dr. Sylvia Earle; Dr Pavan Sukhdev; Chief Tashka Yawanawa; Grand Chief Samuel Gargan; numerous Ministers; the heads of land management agencies from North America and other regions; Heinz Center Director Dr. Thomas Lovejoy; Nobel laureate Mario Molina; Dr. Amory Lovins; Dr Exequiel Ezcurra; and many others.

Download the summary of WILD9 Accomplishments >

View Video’s of WILD9 Presentations >

See Photos of WILD9 >

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News! - Noticas! - Nouvelles!

Solar lights up the Amazon

December 4, 2014

At our 8th World Wilderness Congress in 2005 (Anchorage, Alaska), WILD launched the Native Lands and Wilderness Council to ensure the inclusion of native leaders in mainstream wildlands conservation. Kayapo spokepersons participated in and have since become a valued part of this Council which is now driven entirely by Indigenous stewards, and The WILD Foundation continues as a collaborative partner. Following the 8th WWC, WILD’s president was then invited to a meeting of representatives from all of the Kayapo villages. We formed a close working relationship with the International Conservation Fund of Canada (long-term supporter of the Kayapo) to help strengthen their capacity for territorial protection and sustainable resource management, plus formed a substantive partnership on our Mali Elephant Project- which works with local, traditional communities in west Africa to save habitat and wildlife.

Kayapo at Kendjam

No conservation effort in the tropics has been more successful than that of the Kayapo Indians of Brazil. They’ve achieved more for the preservation of tropical forest than any other group or organizations on earth. WILD continues to support these true guardians of the rainforest by strengthening their capacity for territorial protection and sustainable resource management. We recently became aware of PURE Energies, a California-based solar energy company that traveled to the Amazon rainforest to learn from and contribute to the incredible conservation efforts of the Kayapo community. Following their journey, the team created a series of short videos, photo collections and blogs about their experience with the Kayapo people, and we’re happy to share their story with you. WILD admires companies involved with such environmentally-conscious work that also strive to improve causes like that of the Kayapo people.

Kayapo children

PURE Energies designs and installs residential solar systems in Ontario, Canada and in 35 states across the U.S. They don’t actually build any particular technology. Rather, they have developed the most comprehensive online marketplace in residential solar. Through its proprietary platform, PURE Energies delivers a time-saving, complete analysis of the benefits of solar energy for homeowners- free of charge. Doing so, PURE Energies has become the trusted advisor in the North American solar energy market.

Solar lights

The company’s CEO, Zbigniew Barwicz, is all about sustainable living, so much so that one day he decided to take a team of people to the Amazon to see how the Kayapo, an indigenous people who have existed in the rainforest for eons – and with no technology as we know it – live sustainably. What could the techie Californians learn from the Kayapo – and vice versa?

As it turns out, the answer is: lots. The techie team, led by the International Conservation Fund of Canada, spent two weeks living alongside the indigenous Kayapo. You can see all about their journey here. They participated in their traditions, explored the Amazon basin, and learned how the Kayapo live in harmony with the world around them.

PURE Energies CEO, Zbigniew Barwicz

Why the Amazon?

  • For one, the Amazon Rainforest helps stabilize the world’s climate by storing carbon and reducing the impacts of climate change.
  • Even more amazing, more than 20% of all oxygen in out atmosphere is produced in the Amazon Rainforest.
  • A single hectare in the Amazon Rainforest contains up to 450 species of trees. Compare that to the entire country of Canada, which has only a total of 180 species of trees.
  • Twenty-five percent of Western medicines come from tropical forest ingredients, yet only 1% of tropical trees and plants in the rainforest have been tested by scientists.
  • There are more species of fish in the Amazon River – one river – than are found in the entire Atlantic Ocean.

Aerial view of protected Amazonian rainforest in the Kayapo territory near the village of Kendjam. Kayapo Territory, Brazil.

It’s Also Threatened…

  • The destruction of the Amazon rainforest has increased by almost one-third in the past year, the Guardian reported last year, reversing a decade-long trend of better protection for the world’s greatest rainforest.
  • In fact, a high-resolution satellite analysis of global deforestation revealed that since 2000 an area equal to 50 football fields has been destroyed every minute.
  • The total loss is 10 times the area of the United Kingdom. Only a third of that is being replaced by natural and planted reforestation.

PURE Energies’ CEO Barwicz wanted to see what was going on for himself, and help if he could.

The adventure was pretty eye opening – check out their day by day adventures on their website. The Kayapo people effectively protect an area of rainforest that is bigger than more than half of the countries in the world and equal to the size of Virginia. Every day, their land is threatened by loggers, ranchers and miners. They respond by living in the sustainable way they have lived for hundreds of years. But they’ve also become savvy about tapping into media channels to help raise awareness about the threats they face, and that the globe faces, if their forests are destroyed. They’ve formed non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to obtain national and international conservation and development support for protecting their lands. And they’re developing non-timber forest products to generate modest income they use to purchase some modern-day supplies.

Kayapo girl with monkey

To help, PURE Energies distributed Goal Zero solar powered lanterns to the Kayapo Tribe in Kendjam, Brazil. The lanterns will be used to build their social enterprises, to help deliver babies at night, and for nighttime social gatherings.

The PURE Energies expedition team, meanwhile, were amazed at what they learned about living simply and without fire in the Amazonian basin. They were so inspired, they will be releasing a 5-part video series that touches on the topics of independence, courage, and leadership – all traits they observed among the Kayapo.

“For PURE, independence means giving homeowners the decision to take control of their energy bill and to make their own choices. Gone are the days where energy is without options,” said CEO Barwicz. “We are entering a new era, where homeowners have the potential to generate and directly use their own power. Through this trip, we will learn the truest form of independence and convey those learnings to the homeowners of America.”

See more of this great adventure. The series will airing this week and continue until January via Watch the first video below!

> Read More

The Rap Guide to Wilderness: Connecting people to nature with MUSIC!

November 25, 2014

Rap Guide to Wilderness Album CoverRecently we’ve been working with Canadian rapper Baba Brinkman to create the Rap Guide to Wilderness- a hip-hop album that captures the spirit of our commitment to wilderness conservation in a way that is both infectiously informative and heartfelt. We’re very excited to announce that the album is now available for purchase through our online store! This collection of seven songs will serve as a very important outreach tool to connect people to wild nature. And not to mention, they’re great songs to get your groove on to!

The Rap Guide to Wilderness is a thought-provoking hip-hop celebration of nature and all the ways it contributes to human wellbeing. Brinkman seamlessly blends the relentless energy of rap with a deep environmental consciousness that educates as well as entertains. The album addresses current environmental issues such as biodiversity loss, habitat loss, de-extinction and the delisting of wolves. More importantly, the mission of the album is to promote public awareness of wilderness and its key services to human health and prosperity, stressing the importance of humans having a relationship with wild nature, not just taking from it.

This concept of integrating human existence with nature is the center of The WILD Foundation’s initiative, Nature Needs Half. “The core issue is the lack of true relationship between people and nature. People largely see nature as a resource to be used for human good, short term. The Rap Guide to Wilderness speaks to something else, that wildness is part of us; it provides for us and has “grown” us for 2 million years. We need to honor that relationship, allow space for nature on its own, so that the relationship can flourish, not wither.” says Vance Martin, President of WILD.

Baba Brinkman performing at the WPC

Brinkman was commissioned for this project because “Baba is a talented artist with a mission – to help people understand themselves and the world they live in and depend upon. We envision this release as becoming a part of the “wilderness toolkit” we continue to develop – involving policy, communications, science, and culture – for use to communicate with and inform professionals, the public, youth, and policymakers”, continues Mr. Martin. Prior to his musical endeavors, Brinkman spent 12 years in the Canadian wilderness planting trees.

Brinkman has shared the stage with a number of high profile science thinkers, from Stephen Hawking to physicist Brian Cox to The God Delusion author, Richard Dawkins. More recently, Brinkman debuted songs from The Rap Guide to Wilderness in a series of 4 events at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia this November; a once-every-ten-years meeting of the world’s conservation organizations, both government and non-profit. The events included the WPC opening day plenary, a special Nature Needs Half event held by WILD & CPAWS, a public concert, and Baba wrapped up the WPC with a public party at the Riverside Theatre in Paramatta.

The album is now available for purchase and half of the net profits from album sales will go to WILD’s conservation programs. Stream the album here and let us know what you think of it! We also worked with Baba to create a music video for one of the tracks called “Tranquility Bank,” which is a celebration of city living as the greenest option available, and how people can get the most from the wild if we limit our exposure to it and store its influence internally.

Track List:

  1. Go Wild
  2. Tranquility Bank (feat. Aaron Nazrul)
  3. Party of Life (feat. Tia Brazda)
  4. Walden Pond
  5. Bottleneck (feat. Sean Ross)
  6. Never Cry Wolf (feat. Wyckham Porteous)
  7. Seed Pod

About Baba Brinkman

Baba Brinkman is a Canadian rap artist, writer, and former tree-planter who has personally planted more than one million trees. He is also a scholar, with a Masters in Medieval and Renaissance English Literature. To date Baba has written or co-written five hip-hop plays, all of which have toured the world and enjoyed successful runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and off-Broadway in New York. His newest play, The Rap Guide to Religion, is currently running at the SoHo Playhouse and the album of the same name is slated to come out in spring 2015. He has also released ten original rap albums on his independent label Lit Fuse Records, including the upcoming, The Rap Guide to Wilderness, which explores the contributions of wild nature to human happiness.

Baba Brinkman

Baba’s show, The Rap Guide to Evolution, won the prestigious Scotsman Fringe First Award in Edinburgh, where Brinkman performed for six full seasons. The show was also nominated for a “Drama Desk Award” in New York, in addition to a sold-out week at the Sydney Opera House. Brinkman has made appearances at multiple TED conferences, opened for Stephen Hawking at the Seattle Science Festival, performed for a sold-out crowd of 3,500 at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, and was a guest performer on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show.

Brinkman is also a pioneer in the genre of “lit-hop” or literary hip-hop, known for his adaptations of The Canterbury Tales, Beowulf, and Gilgamesh. He is a recent recipient of the National Center for Science Education’s “Friend of Darwin Award” in 2013 for his efforts to improve the public understanding of evolutionary biology.

When he is not on tour, Brinkman resides in New York City.

> Download the press release

> Purchase the album

> Read More

WILD at the IUCN World Parks Congress

November 7, 2014

WPC Logo

The IUCN World Parks Congress (WPC) meets only once every 1o years.  In the coming days, five of WILD’s program leaders and other close associates will be contributing significantly to the WPC program and conservation outcomes in Sydney, Australia. WPC 2014 is a landmark global forum on protected areas. The Congress will share knowledge and innovation, setting the agenda for protected areas conservation for the decade to come. Building on the theme “Parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions”, it will present, discuss and create original approaches for conservation and development, helping to address the gap in the conservation and sustainable development agenda. WILD’s World Wilderness Congress has an official relationship with the World Commission for Protected Areas (WCPA), the “Commission” within the IUCN that hosts the WPC, and is an affiliate Congress to the WPC.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House by Bkamprath

WILD president Vance Martin is a member of the core team for the “Promise of Sydney“, the main outcome document that aims to capture the boldest and most strategic thinking of governments, international organizations, communities, youth leaders, indigenous peoples, private individuals and organisations to chart the future direction for protected areas as offering and implementing solutions for the challenges faced by the planet. This central vision and outcomes document will be released November 19th. Two specific events hosted by WILD and collaborators will generate excitement and interest: on November 14th, in partnership with Canadian Parks and Wilderness (CPAWS) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), we will host a “Nature Needs Half evening” with music (Rap Guide to Wilderness!)and presentations by contemporary conservation and Indigenous leaders. On November 15th, we convene the meeting of the Wilderness Specialist Group (WSG), which was founded by WILD and is co-chaired by Vance Martin.

Eastern grey kangaroos

Cyril Kormos, Vice President for Policy at The WILD Foundation, has been instrumental in leading the World Heritage stream with many projected, practical outcomes to protect wild nature in World Heritage “natural” sites. In partnership with Parks Canada and others, CoalitionWILD program manager Crista Valentino is playing a key role at WPC by inspiring a new generation of conservation leaders. Shay Sloan, program director for our Indigenous & Community Lands & Seas project is deeply involved with the Indigenous and Community leaders. Britt Peterson, WILD Board of Directors, will be actively managing our Twitter feed.

Please follow along as our team makes the World Parks Congress a little bit wilder from November 12-19!

> View the WPC Schedule of Events for the WILD team

> Nov. 15th Nature Needs Half evening

> Follow @WILDfoundation on Twitter!

> Follow @vancegmartin on Twitter

> Read More

Team Rhino: Conservation Groups Unite for World Rhino Day

September 22, 2014

Since the day The WILD Foundation was born in the African wilderness, we’ve dedicated a tremendous amount of time and energy to protecting Africa’s magnificent rhinos. Our founder Dr Ian Player is well known as being the initiator and team leader of the innovative and internationally acclaimed project ‘Operation Rhino’ in the late 1960′s. Through relocation, safe breeding groups were established elsewhere in the country and in the world. Operation Rhino successfully saved the southern white rhino from extinction and by 2010 there were over 17,000 white rhino in South Africa.

Dr. Ian Player, Operation Rhino

Dr. Ian Player, Operation Rhino © Ian Player Archives

More recently with our Wilderness Network partners, we launched the Forever Wild Rhino Initiative to take urgent action on the steadily increasing levels of rhino poaching in South Africa. Through advocacy and awareness campaigns, the initiative supports conservation agencies and private game reserves in protecting their rhino as part of a functioning natural ecosystem.

Team Rhino LogoToday on World Rhino Day, we continue collaborating and supporting like-minded organizations by helping launch Team Rhino.

As rhino poaching has reached record-breaking levels in Africa in the past few years, much debate over controversial anti-poaching technology, tactics and policy has erupted, and many new rhino conservation groups have entered the fray — some more savory than others.

As with many nonprofit causes, missions can become fuzzy. Groups may begin to cannibalize each other’s efforts, and relationships can get hairy. Supporters are asked time and again to give money to what may feel like a losing game with no rules. In 2013, poachers slaughtered upwards of a thousand rhinos in South Africa alone, and 2014 is on track to be even worse.

All of this activity has left many rhino lovers and conservationists around the world wondering, “How can I join the fight? Who do I team up with?”

To unite rhino conservation efforts by established organizations around the globe on World Rhino Day and every day after, the International Rhino Foundation, Save the Rhino, Asian Rhino Project and The WILD Foundation are joining forces as Team Rhino.

Team Rhino Graphic

We understand that not everyone who cares about rhinos is in a position to donate thousands of dollars a year to conservation or lobby bigwigs within national governments’ environmental agencies or lend their prominent name to awareness campaigns by going on safari with media or exchange fire with ruthless poachers in the African bush.

That’s why we’ve formed Team Rhino — a massive effort to globalize support for saving the rhino from the grassroots up.

We’re forming a global roster and making local plays. From a rookie-level retweet to a major league donation, we’re recruiting members of Team Rhino to do whatever they can to stomp the competition from poachers and help rhinos win their fight for survival.

Part of the strength of a team is its members’ ability to motivate each other. We’ve teamed up with Dave Matthews and American Authors — as well as MVPs like Jack Hanna and Jeff Corwin — to call on fans around the world to learn more about the rhino’s fight and share with others.

Team Rhino: Dave Matthews

Dave Matthews joins Team Rhino

Many people don’t know that rhinos are poached for their horn, which is sold on a black market controlled by international crime syndicates that support terrorism, high-stakes drugs and arms trade, and other human rights violations. They’re unaware that rhino horn is consumed primarily in China and Vietnam and used in traditional medicine or as a status symbol even though it is made of the same substance as our hair and fingernails. Many don’t know rhinos may become extinct in our lifetime if poaching numbers follow their current trend.

As a team, we can do much more than we can as individual players. Range countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Swaziland need to hear our cheers on the side of the rhino. Consumer countries like Vietnam and China need to see our numbers as we call for penalties.

Like poachers and wildlife criminals, we must cross international and organizational boundaries to defeat them. Team Rhino is a global rallying cry to champion rhinos — a call to rush the field to declare victory for rhinos.

> Join Team Rhino!

> Read More

The rocky road to reconciliation: when government fails to deliver, local communities must act

September 18, 2014

Danger is ever-present for elephants in Africa. Fortunately the desert elephants of Mali have been shepherded through the recent conflict, protected by fully-engaged communities as described in previous blog entries: Local communities are heroes in the fight against elephant poaching and Protecting the Mali elephants from war.

Mali: Loving ele calf

Our brave and committed brigades have also faced great danger, and now we learn the very sad and tragic news that Moussa Aly, the popular and greatly respected leader of our brigades at Banzena was shot while he slept. The assassination sent shock-waves throughout the Gourma. Investigations suggested that the murderers of Moussa Aly had been acting on the orders of a rival for election as Mayor of Bambara-Maoude, who had joined the jihadists while Mayor, and was currently in exile in Mauritania.

Moussa Aly

The problem of post-conflict insecurity seems intractable with small groups of bandits hiding in the thicket forests, launching attacks, robberies and hijackings, and moving on to avoid pursuit. These are individuals who joined the armed groups and who are reluctant to return to their communities for fear of retribution. Pursuit is difficult in these vast spaces of dunes and seasonal mires, peppered with impenetrable thickets and devoid of roads (although watch this space for how the project is working to facilitate their capture).

Nomba Ganame TV interview


There is, however, and immense desire among Malians to restore peace and harmonious social relations. The extensive media coverage of our national reconciliation workshop findings is indicative of this, but how can this desire be turned into action?

After the project’s Field Manager, Nomba Ganame’s television interview, his phone was buzzing for days with people congratulating the initiative, showing their support for the findings and asking what could be done next, what actions would ensue.

One striking observation was the breadth and diversity of the people who had bothered to call in. They came from every walk of life, all over Mali and internationally. They included local herders and farmers; refugees; business men and the professions; clan chiefs, mayors and council members; local, regional and national civil servants; the military; MPs, ministers and an ex-Prime Minister.

Mali local communities and soldiers

A common theme was frustration at the lack of progress, and a desire to contribute. Government workers in particular lamented the lack of resources available for them to be able to put the recommendations into practice. This lack of resources stem from what the New York Times called Mali’s oldest enemy: the corruption that laid the groundwork for the country’s recent implosion (1). The article reports that donors have tentatively promised about $4 billion in aid and loans but want assurances that this will not go the way of past aid money, and are waiting for concrete measures to this effect. In the meantime there is a risk that “the present window of opportunity to stabilize Mali and the region will be squandered”.

At the local level in the Gourma, however, things look somewhat brighter. Those who called had urged the project to take the messages to the local communities, to those people who don’t read newspapers or watch television.

During the following month the project did just that. It convened meetings throughout the elephant range to discuss the report findings and what it meant for local lives and livelihoods, in particular focusing on the three main conclusions and developing community solidarity in dealing with their common problems.

Women & Children at Mali Workshop

Following the assassination of Moussa Aly, the 92 year-old, highly respected Chief of Boni deeply lamented the ongoing situation – his own son had been shot and is still critically ill in hospital after 4 months. The murder of Moussa Aly made him realize that something had to be done to stop the violence. He requested that the project support him in convening a large general assembly for the communities and armed forces of over 12 communes including the border regions of Burkina Faso. This meeting would enable a debate with the aim of developing a concerted community response. People had been dissuaded from giving information by retribution killings of several informers, but by launching a request for information about the whereabouts of bandits at a general public meeting, anonymity could be assured because any of the assembled could have been the source of information that led to subsequent arrests.

Over 1,500 people attended. The project contributed a third of the cost, with the remainder raised by contributions from the communities themselves.

Two days after the meeting 4 were arrested with a large cache of arms in a forest just 10 km from Douentza, planning to launch an attack on the town. They disclosed several caches of arms and confirmed the identities of Moussa Aly’s murderers.

A further 32 names led to 12 additional arrests and the discovery of large arms caches, the remainder having fled to neighbouring countries immediately after the meeting as they knew investigations would follow.

Meanwhile the project’s work continues in its aim of empowering those wanting to make a difference, demonstrating that committed individuals and small groups can turn around apparently intractable situations, when they are acting from a genuine motive of wider interest. In this case repairing the social fabric required for the social and environmental resilience is the key to survival in these variable environments and uncertain times.

It is hoped that such courage and leadership will be matched at the national level in getting to grips with the culture of corruption, and unleash those committed individuals within government to take the lead in promoting peace and reconciliation throughout Mali.

> View media coverage (clippings in French, translations in English)

> Learn more about the Mali Elephant Project

(1) For Mali’s New President, Corruption Issue Lingers by Adam  Nossiter. New York Times, August 21, 2013

Over 1,500 people attended and some pictures of this remarkable event
can be found in the photo gallery below:

> Read More