Wyoming Billionaire Plans To Buy Around 15% Of The Planet To Protect Its Nature
Nature is an amazing thing. It's beautiful and amazing to study however the human race is, unfortunately, destroying it. Luckily, there are a few good souls out there trying to protect it. One man, in particular, Hansjörg Wyss. Many people have probably never even heard his name. That's all about to change though.
Who is this man?
The now 83-year-old entrepreneur and businessman, Wyss, was born in Bern, Switzerland. He first made his fortune in the Belgian steel industry before establishing the U.S. division of Synthes, which is a multinational medical device manufacturer best known for producing internal screws and plates used to help mend fractured bones. Since then, the company has been acquired by Johnson & Johnson.
Why is he so significant?
Up until now, Wyss has been laying low and unless someone followed Belgian steel or medical device companies, they probably wouldn't have heard of him. Well, it turns out that Wyss is actually an avid outdoorsman as well as a resident of the quaint mountain town of Wilson, Wyoming. Furthermore, this retired billionaire is set to help mend the planet's most fractured natural areas by establishing a new campaign - Wyss Campaign for Nature, which is a special project of the Wyss Foundation that aims to conserve and protect 30% of the planet's lands and oceans by 2030s. To put that into perspective, only 15% of the planet is currently protected.
How will this amazing feat be achieved?
The campaign plans to reach the ambitious benchmark by creating and expanding protected areas, establishing more ambitious international conservation targets, investing in science, as well as inspiring conservation action around the world. Backed up by a $1 billion investment, this will all be achieved with help from major conservation players including the National Geographic Society, which will assist on the public awareness and outreach front, as well as The Nature Conservancy and a wide range of local project partners. There is little shortage of assistance, that's for sure!
Progress and Future Plans
The project is well underway and seems to be going well so far. There are four key strategies that need to be harnessed - financial support for local, on-the-ground conservation projects; an increase in international conservation targets established by the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD); a National Geographic-led inspire to action effort; and lastly, the use of science to ensure maximum conservation gains via a pilot project launched in collaboration with Switzerland's University of Bern. The campaign isn't wasting any time in achieving these and is already off to a flying start.
So far, the campaign has already identified nine locally led conservation projects spread across 13 countries that will receive $48 million in assistance. The size of this area is about 10 million acres of land and 17,000 square kilometers of ocean in total which is a huge area that will hopefully be protected soon. As time goes on, additional funds will be given to additional projects. Grants are currently being awarded to projects that already have local support as they're more likely to remain protected over the long term rather than less established projects that don't have it. People don't like their time and money on something that's going to be protected for a few years and then go downhill. They want to see if protected for many decades to come.
Where are these conservation projects?
As stated earlier, there have already been nine projects that have received grants. The first nine conservation projects are
- Aconquija National Park and the National Reserve Project in Argentina
- The Ansenuza National Park Project, also in Argentina
- Costa Rica's proposed Corcovado Marine Reserve
- The multi-country Caribbean Marine Protected Areas initiative
- The Andes Amazon Fund, which impacts Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil and Guyana
- Romania's Fundatia Conservation Carpathia, which spearheads conservation efforts in the Carpathian Mountains
- The Edéhzhíe Dehcho Protected Area and National Wildlife Area in Canada's Northwest Territories
- Australia's Nimmie-Caira Project
- The Gonarezhou National Park Project in Zimbabwe
The Nature Conservancy alone will be receiving two of these grants, totaling a whopping $6.9 million. One of the grants will support crucial marine conservation work in the Caribbean Sea through the recently launched Blue Bonds for Conservation campaign. While the other will foster the creation of a sustainable agricultural zone within the Murray-Darling Basin, a significant habitat for migratory birds in New South Wales, Australia. They are both equally deserving causes that could desperately use the assistance.