Effectively managed conservation areas are the cornerstone of nature preservation. Unfortunately, many conservation areas are insufficiently funded, resulting in “paper parks” that struggle to fulfil their primary function: conserving nature for future generations. Halting the dramatic loss of biodiversity across the world requires a bold new approach to the management of conservation areas in terms of scope, structure, accountability, and financing.
Our strategy is simple and effective. We finance long-term partnerships between experienced NGOs and protected area authorities, as well as indigenous and local communities, to support efficient conservation and management of terrestrial protected areas and their buffer zones. The fund covers annual baseline costs with USD one million per legacy landscape for 15+ years. This keeps the lights on and the conservation area functional.
Long-term, flexible core financing for at least 30 legacy landscapes
Our goal is to finance a global, diversified portfolio of at least 30 of the world’s most relevant biodiversity assets by the year 2030.
LLF’s theory of change is rooted in the belief that previous international commitments, such as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, did not manage to halt biodiversity loss because many protected areas are dysfunctional, underfunded or threatened by illegal resource extraction.
To meet the goal of 30×30, we believe a more holistic approach to ecosystems is necessary. This means including core protected areas, buffer zones, sustainably managed community lands and potential biodiversity corridors: in other words, taking a landscape approach.
This is what LLF is aiming for: long-term funding for a ‘legacy landscape’ – a large site containing at least 2000 km² of protected areas, plus adjacent buffer zones or sustainably managed areas, which are key for the integrity of the protected area and for ecosystem services.
LLF provides substantial, long-term and flexible funding to protected areas in countries that do not have the means for sufficient financial support. With one million USD per year for a minimum of 15 years or for perpetuity, LLF funding ensures that the core costs of effective management can be met. LLF’s contribution allows for some flexibility, which means the money can go to where our partners need it most.
Conservation that improves ecosystem services and mitigates climate change
Biodiversity loss and climate change are deeply intertwined: to solve one, we must tackle both.
Protected areas play a central role in reducing carbon emissions and maintaining protecting existing carbon stocks, rendering them crucial in the fight against climate change. Landscapes rich in biodiversity, such as forests and peatlands, absorb and store large amounts of carbon.
Carbon sequestration is one of the most valuable ecosystem services and an effective nature-based solution to regulating the earth’s atmosphere. Intact ecosystems are also more resilient to shocks such as a heating climate. To meet the climate targets outlined in the Paris Agreement by 2030, we need to conserve these landscapes.
By reducing carbon in the atmosphere through long-term habitat protection, LLF’s legacy landscapes address the dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change. Throughout the LLF funding process, the carbon storage and absorption potential of the legacy landscapes sites will be measured and monitored.
Ecosystem services are the benefits the natural environment provides to humans. When nature is kept intact, it offers free ecosystem services such as clean air, fresh water, and fertile soil. These form the basis of most people’s livelihoods and are directly linked to human well-being around the world. By preserving the world’s most outstanding natural areas, LLF helps to ensure the provision of these vital ecosystem services.
Systematic application of environmental, social, and human rights standards
Good conservation rigorously respects human rights and builds environmental and social safeguards into its program.
All grant applications to LLF undergo a thorough and independent environmental and social due diligence process. These Environmental and Social Due Diligence studies (ESDDs) define priority actions following any identification of gaps and shortcomings to be taken by implementing partners. They are obliged to use the allocated funding for a specific set of safeguarding activities in order to avoid, mitigate, manage and/or remedy any environmental and social risk and impact resulting from the landscape´s management.
Environmental and social safeguards include, for example, a functioning and accessible grievance mechanism; free prior informed consent (FPIC) during zoning involving indigenous peoples; and the application of a rights-based approach. LLF monitors these measures and ensures lesson-learning on the implementation of international standards in a conservation context. We are guided by standards set by international organizations, such as the World Bank and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Nature conservation for community well-being and sustainable livelihoods
Best practice conservation programs are driven by local actors, including indigenous communities, and include in their mission the promotion of sustainable livelihoods and community outreach.
LLF’s grants support benefit-sharing mechanisms for those living near to protected areas, including community-based natural resource management (CBNRM), livelihood provision, and employment opportunities.
LLF finances long-term conservation, which means we support programs that will preserve biodiversity not just in the short term, but for generations to come. This also falls in lines with the aims of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). LLF also supports community-owned and -managed large scale protected areas. Here, communities are in the driver seat as direct land-owners and legal custodians of those protected areas.
Leverage different sources of funding with the aim of perpetuity
LLF believes that its strength lies in its ability to source significant long-term grant funding for legacy landscapes by blending public and private donor funds.
The unique quality of LLF is its combination, at scale, of public and private funding sources, which contributes to the long-term financial security of global biodiversity hot spots. LLF provides a means by which various funders can contribute to the 30×30 goal to ensure effective management of protected areas, buffer zones and community-managed conservation areas.
By combining different funding sources, LLF ensures mutual leveraging of private and public money, bringing a variety of benefits: political commitment to secure investments, including via government-to-government negotiations led by public sector donors; and the more dynamic deployment of private/philanthropic funding.
As LLF uses funding predominantly from the global north (both bilateral funds and private philanthropy) to be spent in the global south, it also contributes to the goal of increasing financial flows to developing countries.
For the implementing partner, both funding sources are bundled into one grant, lasting for either 15 years or for perpetuity with annual grant funding of USD one million. Pending deployment, funds contributed to the LLF trust fund capital are invested in the capital markets. LLF has a sustainable investment policy and an investment committee of high-level specialists working pro bono alongside a paid investment service provider.
Platform for global learning, innovation, and conservation solutions
LLF is a learning organization. Since its inception, LLF has engaged closely with key members of civil society, the private sector, academic and development partners, as well as representatives of partner countries, to establish a learning and sharing community.
We will continue to cooperate closely with this diverse set of actors to help building capacity, create mutual understanding and provide learnings that can be useful for both implementing partners and contributors.
LLF aims to institutionalize peer learning, sharing and implementable guidance for all stakeholders to ensure wide application of best practices and solutions in conservation. LLF works alongside experienced global conservation leaders to protect biodiversity in the long term, support climate change mitigation and adaptation, and advance the rights and needs of local communities and indigenous peoples.
Lean, charitable international foundation with a public-private approach
LLF was established in 2020 as a charitable foundation under German law with a mixed board of directors representing public and private donors.
It was endowed with initial capital from BMZ on behalf of the German government. KfW supported the setting-up of the foundation and is still providing punctual technical support to the LLF team.
LLF is a joint initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), KfW Development Bank (KfW), Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and multiple conservation partners.
As LLF is impact- and results-oriented, the fund strives to keep its overhead costs as low as possible for lean and effective operations. LLF consists of a small operational staff and its operational costs (administrative, program development, management expenses) are kept at a small proportion of the total budget.