Accomplishments of the WILD Foundation

Since 1974 – Producing positive results for wilderness, wildlife and people worldwide

© Boyd Norton

WILD is a progressive conservation leader, and has been the “heart of the global wilderness conservation movement” since 1974. Our work has protected wilderness, helped people, saved wildlife, and generated a global movement for wilderness and wild nature by:

  • Strengthening the importance of re-wilding and wild nature for the well-being of human communities,
  • Creating and expanding a wide range of natural protected areas,
  • Training wilderness managers,
  • Integrating political and business leaders with local community leaders,
  • Introducing & implementing major policy initiatives (national and global),
  • Creating and rolling-out innovative communications projects,
  • Assisting and often “incubating” start-up organizations,
  • Initiating and managing on-the-ground field projects, and
  • Providing wilderness resources and tools for people, organizations and governments.

Umzi Wethu

WILD is a founding member of a small and highly collaborative group called Wilderness Foundation Global. WILD’s emphasis is on collaboration, commitment, and integrity, and our metrics of success are based more on practical and inspiring results that help build a movement, rather than just actions that create another institution. As a result, we’ve earned a reputation for “punching above our weight,” with a very strong record of accomplishments based on a very modest size and budget.  A very few of our diverse and targeted accomplishments, and some of the principles that lead to them, include:

  • A Global Vision, applied at all scales – from founding the World Wilderness Congress in 1977 – the world’s longest-running , public, international conservation project – to launching in 2009 and now facilitating Nature Needs Half, a global vision applied locally for wild nature and people.
  • Protecting wild species – From the 1960’s when our founder saved the white rhino from extinction to right now with Forever Wild, WILD has worked tirelessly to protect iconic and endangered species such as the rhino, elephant, marine turtles and more.  The Mali Elephant Project, that we founded with partner Save the Elephants and now expanded with International Conservation of Canada, has become a model of community empowerment, regional security, and species conservation.

Baby elephant, Mali

  • Protecting wild spaces – WILD has been involved with the protection of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve in South Africa, the Mavuradonha Wilderness in Zimbabwe, the El Carmen complex in Northern Mexico, Kissama National Park in Angola, and Gabon’s new national park system through the Congo Basin Initiative and our founding role in the International Conservation Caucus Foundation.
  • Promoting and Helping Local People – Since our inception, working with local communities and Indigenous Peoples to respect traditional wisdom and practice, implement conservation, and improve human well-being. This has included roles as both co-initiator and facilitator of initiatives such as the Native Lands and Wilderness Council, Zulu Village Project, and more.

Isandlwana gardens

  • Addressing social issues with conservation solutions – With our sister organizations in Africa, taking disadvantaged youth into the wilderness and training AIDS orphans for careers in conservation with the Umzi Wethu model and many other projects..
  • Global Designation of Wilderness – Successfully promoting and helping establish a wilderness protected area category in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) protected areas classification system (included as Category 1b – Wilderness in 1994), and founding and chairing the IUCN’s Wilderness Specialist Group.
  • International Policy – Bringing together government officials for wilderness conservation. In 2004, WILD held a working round-table involving participants from 7 countries, reviewing U.S. and international approaches to wilderness law and policy. This lead to our producing the first-ever International Handbook on Wilderness Law and Policy (now in English, French and Spanish). In 2009, we initiated the first international agreement on wilderness, signed by government agency representatives from the US, Canada and Mexico. WILD now serves as facilitator of the North American Intergovernmental Committee on Wilderness and Protected Areas that is implementing this agreement.
  • Marine Wilderness – Starting in 1987 at the 4th WWC, building at the 6th and continuing to-date, the Marine Wilderness Collaborative works to define and further protect wildness in our planet’s oceans.

Short-beaked Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) Gulf of California. Mexico

  • A Wilderness Professional’s “Toolkit” –  Providing leading professional resources for wilderness protection and management. We publish the standard reference on wilderness management, the first comprehensive Handbook of International Wilderness Law and Policy (in English, Spanish, and French), and (3x per year) the International Journal of Wilderness.
  • Inspiring conservation through art and communications – We have a special insistence on culture – the arts, communications, community, humanities – as integral to creating effective conservation solutions. At the 8th WWC, the International League of Conservation Photographers was formed, and also Wild Wonders of Europe (the world’s most extensive conservation photography initiative). At WILD9, they then convened the largest ever gathering of conservation photographers and their work. This then inspired others to form (at WILD9) the International League of Conservation Writers. The 8th WWC created a public sculpture contest that resulted in a major work being commissioned and then donated to the Anchorage (Alaska) Museum of Art and History. WILD10 commissioned and donated to the City of Salamanca a 27 meter high (90 feet) wall mural by Boa Mistura, on the theme “Hacia lo Salvaje” (Into the Wild) We significantly use web-based and social media platforms, and we also continue our commitment to publishing high-quality “hard-copy” books and materials to inform and inspire conservation action.
  • Facilitation and Collaboration – with a wide-range of partners and collaborators, to achieve results for wilderness. Each World Wilderness Congress integrates art, science, management, government, academia, native leaders, youth, corporate leaders and advocates into a multi-year conservation program, with unique results at each convening.

WILD10 staff & volunteers

It’s nice to be recognized! One of our recent and highly-valued awards is the 2011 National Bob Marshall Wilderness Stewardship Award, presented by the Chief of the USDA Forest Service.