Crowdfunding Biodiversity Conservation

What once enabled the completion of the Statue of Liberty, today is helping conservation efforts around the world. When government funds dried up in the late 1800s and the Statue did not have a pedestal where to stand, a New York-based newspaper launched a massive public appeal to raise funds, an early example of crowdfunding. Nowadays, this practice to raise funds has been amplified through the power of the internet, with so-called crowdfunding platforms. This fundraising mechanism is supporting actions to save iconic natural places, such as the Tasmania wilderness, as well as threatened species, such as the Black Rhinoceros and the Bornean Orangutan. The current biodiversity crisis requires funding if we are to avert extinctions. However, funding is limited, so understanding emerging financial mechanisms is paramount. Crowdfunding has become a popular mechanism to raise funds for conservation.

Nevertheless, despite its use, no one had quantified the extent to which crowdfunding has been supporting biodiversity conservation at a global scale, until now. Recent research led by The University of Queensland and Deakin University conducted a global analysis of the use of crowdfunding for biodiversity conservation. The team discovered that this mechanism has raised US$4.8 million since 2009, through 577 projects delivered in 80 countries across all continents. Furthermore, crowdfunding is not only supporting research; it is also enabling key actions, such as restoration and outreach. Some of these actions include innovative initiatives, such as training sheepdogs to protect a penguin colony from fox predation. Crowdfunding is not only providing additional funds for conservation, it is also fostering community engagement, pluralizing views on conservation by enabling wider public participation, and providing emergency funds to avoid extinctions. Crowdfunding for biodiversity conservation has become a global phenomenon and has potential for further expansion.

Further Reading:
Gallo-Cajiao, E., Archibald, C., Friedman, R., Stevens, R., Game, E., Morrison, T. H., Fuller, R. and E. Ritchie. In press. Crowdfunding biodiversity conservation. Conservation Biology.