Protecting biodiversity and vulnerable ecosystems


Around the globe, and here in the Pacific Northwest, marine and terrestrial ecosystems are facing extreme challenges due to human-driven impacts. We are inspired by frontline organizations protecting biodiversity and ecosystems with a focus on the application of science and technology to improve our understanding of the natural world and advance conservation efforts.

National Science Foundation Partnership to Advance Conservation Science and Practice

This first-of-its-kind partnership provided $8 million in funding toward six projects that combine scientific research and conservation activities to learn from and protect Earth’s biodiversity. PACSP is a public/private partnership combines NSF’s reputation for rigorous research standards with the foundation’s experience in supporting research-based interventions new to NSF’s portfolio. The projects focused on six threatened or endangered species and habitats: the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, Hawaiian land snails, desert tortoises, North American bats, crystal skipper butterflies, and secondary species in coastal restoration.
Partners:  National Science Foundation

The Earthshot Prize

The Earthshot Prize, inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot effort in the 1960s, aims to unite people to drive innovation to protect the Earth. The program is entering its third year and awards 1 million pounds each to five annual winners in the categories of Protect & Restore Nature, Clean Our Air, Revive Our Oceans, Build a Waste-Free World, and Fix Our Climate. The foundation is a Global Alliance Founding Partner of this initiative, originally developed by The Royal Foundation, and co-founded by HRH Prince William.
Partners:  (Global Alliance Founding Partners) Aga Khan Development Network, Bezos Earth Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Breakthrough Energy, Coleman Family Ventures, DP World, Expo 2020 Dubai, Holch Povlsen Foundation, Jack Ma Foundation, Legacy For Youth, Rob & Melani Walton Foundation

Global Fund for Coral Reefs

Co-founded by the foundation, the Global Fund for Coral Reefs is the first UN Impact Fund dedicated to Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Life Underwater). It incorporates blended finance and public-private partnerships to catalyze a sustainable financial system for the conservation of coral reefs and the sustainable development of the communities that depend on them. As of June 2023, GFCR has mobilized more than $185 million in grant funding and $500 million in investments with projects in 12 countries and another 18 scheduled by the end of 2024.
Partners:  Canada, France, Germany, The United Kingdom, Green Climate Fund, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, UN Development Programme, UN Environment Programme, UN Capital Development Fund, BNP Paribas, Pegasus Capital Advisors, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund, and IUCN

Interspecies Frontiers

Earth Species Project will develop AI-based tools to understand animal behavior and communication. This $1.2 M grant supports aggregating datasets and creating ‘foundation models’ that let conservationists easily perform tasks like detecting animals, categorizing behaviors, and generating meaningful acoustic signals.
Partners:  Earth Species Project

Mycorrhizal Networks

Mycorrhizal fungi, otherwise known as plant root fungi, create underground networks that assist approximately 90% of plants with nutrient and water absorption, protect plants from pathogens, and influence the rate at which plants absorb carbon from the air, thus helping to regulate the Earth’s climate. The SPUN project will fund 80 “underground explorers” around the world to sample soil using new genetic techniques in under-explored and hard-to-reach places, will develop an open-source threat map, and better understand the ecosystem functions of these important underground organisms.
Partners:  Society for Protection of Underground Networks (SPUN) 

Puget Sound Integrated Modeling Framework

Researchers from the Puget Sound Institute are leading a $4.8M collaborative project to integrate existing environmental models to provide a cohesive picture of the entire Sound ecosystem under future conditions of climate change and population growth. Human populations and stressors originating from land development and climate change threaten freshwater, nearshore, and estuarine ecosystems. The connections between these areas are poorly understood, and these systems should not be studied one-by-one. Comprehensive data and analyses are needed to make informed conservation, restoration, and development decisions.
Partners:  UW's Salish Sea Modeling Center, NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center, EPA's Office of Research and Development, Long Live the Kings, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization

Puget Sound Kelp Monitoring: Ecological Index Sites

The Kelp Monitoring Program builds on our 2016 four-year grant with Puget Sound Restoration Fund. The program will engage and train professional and volunteer diver networks, expand monitoring platforms and deploy robotic systems to keep "eyes on kelp" and accumulate important data that leads to better protective measures for this critical and vanishing ecosystem.
Partners:  Puget Sound Restoration Fund, Reef Check, Marauder Robotics, The Bay Foundation

Planning for Climate Resilient Forests that Support Canada Lynx

Canada lynx habitat in Washington state has increasingly burned in wildfires over the past 20 years, and there is concern that the remaining habitat will be destroyed before the previously burned habitat can regrow. The foundation's investment will help biologists learn more about how lynx are adapting to and responding to disturbances to their current habitats, and how we can respond to ensure their future in the North Cascades.
Partners:  Home Range Wildlife Research

Advancing Understanding and Protection of Black-Footed Ferrets

The endangered black-footed ferret is North America’s only native ferret species. As a keystone and indicator species, they maintain biodiversity, help preserve healthy grassland ecosystems, and promote ecological balance. NZCBI Smithsonian will test both ground-penetrating radars to map prairie dog burrows and use new wireless movement tracking devices that will provide vital insights into the lives of black-footed ferrets and their prairie dog prey below ground.
Partners:  Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, American Pririe, Fort Belknap Fish and Wildlife Department, Swansea University, USFWS

Chignik Fisheries

Salmon fisheries, particularly sockeye salmon, are highly valued and contribute to the regional economy of the Pacific Northwest. Salmon fishing in Chignik also holds cultural significance for local communities including Alaska Native tribes. The grant program will facilitate detailed mapping of the rapidly changing watersheds (and fisheries) of the Chignik region on the southwestern Alaska Peninsula. The project will also support local workforce development, provide student research opportunities, and contribute to the expansion of the Chignik Intertribal Coalition.
Partners:  University of Alaska Fairbanks

Operation Pangolin

Operation Pangolin launched in Cameroon and Gabon to generate much-needed data to inform conservation strategies in Central Africa. The team, led by Florida International University, will develop monitoring and data collection toolkits that will be distributed to local researchers and conservation stakeholders to deploy. The main threat to Pangolin populations in both Africa and Asia is poaching for international wildlife trafficking. Enough pangolin scales have been seized in the past decade to account for at least 1 million pangolins, yet little is known about the trafficking supply chains. The project is being supported by four academic institutions, the Zoological Society of London and a global network of 189 pangolin technical specialists.
Partners:  Florida International University, Arribada Initiative, University of Oxford, University of Maryland, University of Southern California, Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux, Zoological Society of London, IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group

KAZA Aerial Surveys, Data Management and Community Engagement

We are funding an aerial wildlife survey that will count elephants and other wildlife in the five KAZA countries; Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The data will inform regionally integrated approaches aimed towards harmonizing policies, strategies, and practices for managing the shared natural resources that straddle the international borders of the KAZA partner states. In addition to the aerial survey, we support efforts to modernize wildlife surveys through machine learning and assist the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with the development of a new African Elephant Status Report. We are also piloting a year-long community development project to educate and activate communities around the benefits of wildlife and best practices for harmonious co-existence.
Partners:  World Wildlife Fund, KAZA Secretariat, Eco-Exist, WildMe, IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group, Save The Elephants

Coral Research Grants

Coral reef research is essential in our race against time to increase coral heat tolerance and find new ways to restore degraded reefs. We support coral research projects that elevate a range of resilience, adaptation, and conservation efforts. This $7.2 M in grants include supporting researchers' efforts to boost genetic diversity, assist thermal tolerance, study and improve restoration techniques, and understand coral heat resilience.
Partners:  Australian Institute of Marine Science, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Mote Marine Laboratory, Southern Cross University, Konstanz University, Old Dominion University, Institute for Systems Biology, Pennsylvania State University

Global FinPrint (2.0)

GlobalFinprint created the world's first global survey of shark density and diversity in coral reef ecosystems, and provided baseline data for conservation and protection effort across four regions. The Global Finprint 2.0 project will resurvey 50 MPAs and 50 control sites to assess changes in reef shark abundance over time and will estimate the causal relationship between MPA design features and shark abundance and trends. The team will do so by building in-country capacity for reef shark monitoring in the world’s MPAs to ensure they are effective and build the foundation for tracking future recovery, as well as working with local decision-makers to build on commitments for 30 x 30 and CITES to build or improve existing MPAs.
Partners:  Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

Oceans 5

Oceans 5 comprises 22 funding organizations with a common inspiration for grantmaking that delivers tangible improvement in global ocean health, establishes marine reserves, and constrains overfishing.
Partners:  Oceans 5 

Shark Conservation Fund

Sharks are apex predators and ecosystem engineers that play a vital role in maintaining the health and balance of our oceans. The foundation is a founding member of Shark Conservation Fund (SCF), a collaboration of philanthropists dedicated to restoring ocean health through shark and ray conservation beyond what any single funder could achieve on its own. The organization works to end the exploitation of sharks and rays and prevent their extinction through on-the ground education, localized conservation efforts, critical applied science, and global policy support. For instance, SCF funds work in more than 20 relevant countries to assist in implementation of CITES protection.
Partners:  Oceans 5, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the Moore Charitable Foundation, Volgenau Family Foundation