“We must make financing for protected areas more sustainable”
The main source of income for many protected areas, tourism, has suddenly stopped because of COVID-19. But FZS Executive Director Dr. Christof Schenck is convinced there is a more sustainable way to make these places more financially secure.
What is the link between biodiversity and pandemics?
How are FZS projects being impacted by the virus?
Do we know the extent of the impacts on protected natural areas?
Currently, several protected areas depend heavily on revenue from tourism, but because of COVID-19, the main income stream has ground to a halt. Christof Schenck
Are there any other impacts of the pandemic?
What could such sustainable revenue streams look like?
When a disaster hits, the first thing we need to worry about is getting basic supplies. The costs for this could be covered with a pre-created emergency pot of money that financially rescues a protected area temporarily.
Then we need to think about management costs. This can be done through an initiative, which is in the process of being established, called the Legacy Landscapes fund. Organized jointly by the German ministry for Development and Cooperation and the KfW Development Bank together with big partners such as UNESCO World Heritage Centre, IUCN, WWF, FZS and many more, this fund uses capital that comes from public and philanthropic sources, to ensure highly biodiverse areas continue to function. The aim is to provide a significant safe payment per area per year long-term. To keep the lights on, whatever happens.
Lastly, I suggest that we think about setting up a special protected wild areas insurance that would handle costs incurred by other catastrophes, such as fires.
With these types of funds working in tandem, we would be able to prevent disasters from impacting protected areas as seriously as they have been.
What can private citizens do to help us prevent this kind of catastrophe in the future?
Christof Schenck: If we all want to survive in the longer run, under the same conditions we are adapted to, then we need to wake up. Every person can do a lot. For example: elect politicians who think that conservation needs to happen. Stay informed about the decisions we take every day such as whether to use a car or public transport. Spread the word about the need to protect natural areas. Donate, volunteer, decide what to do with your investments or endowments. There are many ways for each of us to make a difference.