When last month over a billion dollars were donated for the restoration work on the Notre Dame, many people asked the question why aren’t such big amounts of money used for things like homelessness or the environment. It’s is a rare thing to see such big sums being used for nature, yet something it does happen.
Last October, Hansjorg Wyss a billionaire and CEO of the Wyss Foundation, pledged to donate more than a billion dollars to help with the conservation of nature.
Speaking in the New Your times, Wyss made an announcement that he plans to buy large plots of land and turn them into public parks.
“It is the idea that wild lands and waters are best conserved not in private hands, locked behind gates, but as public national parks, wildlife refuges and marine reserves, forever open for everyone to experience and explore. The notion of holding these places in public trust was one I became deeply influenced by as a young man, when I first climbed and hiked on public lands in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains,” Wyss said.
“Every one of us – citizens, philanthropists, business and government leaders – should be troubled by the enormous gap between how little of our natural world is currently protected and how much should be protected. It is a gap that we must urgently narrow, before our human footprint consumes the earth’s remaining wild places,” he added.
He is hopeful that his efforts will conserve 30% of the planet by 2030.
Business Insider stated that Wyss has donated more than 66$ million to nine different organizations two months after making the pledge.
These donations include $750.000 to help the Dencho First Nations in Canade to make a management program for the Edehnzhie Wildlife Area in the Northwestern Territories, which is part of a huge 3.5 million acre ecosystem home to many different species of plants and animals. Aves Argentinas, the oldest conservation group in Argentina also received a hefty sum of $5.8 million. This donation is going towards the goal of making a 1.5 million acre national park. He also donated 22$ million to thee Fundacion Flora y Fauna, so that they can establish a 178.000 acre park in the Tucuman Province in Argentina.
Wyss might not be really well known in conservation circles, but he has been donating steadily for the past 20 years. It is estimated that he has given more than $450 million prior to making his pledge last October.
In the Op-Ed for the Times, he is optimistic for the future.
“This money will support locally led conservation efforts around the world, push for increased global targets for land and ocean protection, seek to raise public awareness about the importance of this effort, and fund scientific studies to identify the best strategies to reach our target. I believe this ambitious goal is achievable because I’ve seen what can be accomplished. Indigenous peoples, local leaders and conservation groups around the world are already busy setting aside protected areas that reflect the conservation, economic and cultural values of nearby communities,” Wyss said.
“I’ve seen this unfold firsthand. Over the past two decades, my foundation has supported local efforts to protect wild places in Africa, South America, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the United States, donating more than $450 million to help our partners conserve nearly 40 million acres of land and water,” he added.