BBC plans to cancel fruitful Wildlife Conservation Fund

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
August 29, 2011



The announcement that the BBC plans to axe its 4-year-old Wildlife Conservation Fund, which has raised nearly $5 million (£3 million) for endangered species worldwide, has spurred an online campaign to save the program.

The fund, which raises money largely from BBC viewers—especially those watching its renowned wildlife documentaries—has financed 87 programs around the world to date, including providing homes for dwindling dormice populations in the UK, restoring jaguar corridors in Brazil, finding solutions to conflict between locals and mountain gorillas, and creating a giant clam ranch that reinstates massive mussels in the wild. Around 20 percent of the program's donations go to UK wildlife, while the rest goes internationally. This year the program is currently working with a number of little-known, but highly endangered species, such as the spoon-billed sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus), Sagalla caecilian (Boulengerula niedeni), the Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) and the Kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus), as well as well-known species like the Amur tiger, the African elephant, and the snow leopard.

The decision to kill the fund comes as the BBC is looking to cut spending across the board. However since the Wildlife Conservation Fund is a charity dependent on donors, its cost to the BBC is minimal. Still, the network has decided it wants to focus on other, more long-established, BBC charitable causes, such as Children in Need, Comic and Sport Relief, instead of the young conservation fund.

"The BBC has a clear commitment to a number of charities and we are proud of our achievements in support of the Wildlife Fund," a BBC spokesperson told the Guardian. "However, as with the many difficult choices we currently face, we must focus our efforts in areas where we can have the most impact. We have therefore regrettably concluded that we can no longer support fundraising programming around our wildlife output."

But a number of conservationists are not letting the fund die without a fight. A petition has been started that so far has attracted over 8,000 names. In addition 57 organizations to date have signed a letter to BBC Chariman, Chris Patten, to save the fund.

"In establishing the Fund, we believe that the BBC recognized the respect in which the Natural History Unit is so widely held and the value of its wonderful and ground-breaking wildlife documentaries to the Corporation over several decades. The Fund provided a mechanism to further this influence and put something back into environmental conservation, as well as championing sustainable outcomes which enable economic betterment for local communities," the letter reads in part.

Conservationists say that while the fund may not be as high profile as Comic Relief or Children in Need, it plays a vital role in supporting global conservation work and, given that it is still very young, holds great potential for future good.

The letter to save the fund adds, "At a time of obvious crisis for the world’s biodiversity, we can only ask what message it sends for such an iconic and respected organization as the BBC to appear to be drawing back from its support of the living world?"













Related articles

US House Republicans propose to eliminate migratory bird conservation act

(07/25/2011) The US House of Representatives has proposed an environmental spending bill that strips funds from many environmental agencies, including eliminating altogether the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act. The vote has been denounced by House Democrats.


WWF partnering with companies that destroy rainforests, threaten endangered species

(07/25/2011) Arguably the globe's most well-known conservation organization, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), has been facilitating illegal logging, vast deforestation, and human rights abuses by pairing up with notorious logging companies in a flagging effort to convert them to greener practices, alleges a new report by Global Witness. Through its program, the Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN), WWF—known as World Wildlife Fund in the US and Canada—has become entangled with some dubious companies, including one that is imperiling orangutans in Borneo and another which has been accused of human rights abuses in the Congo rainforest. Even with such infractions, these companies are still able to tout connections to WWF and use its popular panda logo. The Global Witness report, entitled Pandering to the Loggers, calls for WWF to make large-scale changes in order to save the credibility of its corporate program.


Tiger summit reaches bold agreement and raises $300 million

(11/24/2010) The summit to save the world's biggest cat, and one of the world's most popular animals, has agreed to a bold plan dubbed the Global Tiger Recovery Program. Meeting in St. Petersburg, 13 nations have set a goal to double the wild tiger's (Panthera tigris) population worldwide by 2022. Given that tiger numbers continue to decline in the wild, this goal is especially ambitious, some may even say impossible. However, organizations and nations are putting big funds on the table: around $300 million has already been pledged, including $1 million from actor, and passionate environmental activist, Leonardo Dicaprio.







CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (August 29, 2011).

BBC plans to cancel fruitful Wildlife Conservation Fund.

http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0829-hance_bbc_fund.html