The Supervisory Board of the Legacy Landscapes Fund (LLF) has decided on funding two more sites by unanimous vote: Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe were approved as additional sites supported by LLF. Conservation activities on site are implemented jointly by protected area authorities, local communities, and by experienced conservation organizations: African Parks in the Republic of Congo and Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) in Zimbabwe.

Both sites will be funded with one million US dollars annually for at least 15 years. Thereby, the LLF will contribute to the core financing of the management of two more globally important protected areas and their buffer zones. Thus, the LLF will help to maintain their function as biodiversity havens and carbon sinks. The sites have an outstanding biodiversity and are labelled “key biodiversity areas” as well as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Odzala-Kokoua lies in the heart of the Congo-Basin, the second largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon, and is home to a unique mix of species such as spotted hyenas, gorillas, forest elephants and chimpanzees. Gonarezhou has a wide range of animals but is most famous for its elephant population which is why its local name translates to “Place of Elephants”. All parks cooperate closely with the local population and adjacent communities. This kind of cooperation is an inherent part of LLF´s overall strategy and funded activities at all sites. In Gonarezhou, for instance, about three quarters of staff originates from within 15 kilometers of the Park´s boundary, showcasing how conservation can be a vital income source in remote areas.

LLF is an international public-private fund, established as an independent charitable foundation under German law. Its financial resources stem from public and private sources. In addition to funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through KfW Development Bank, all pilot sites have a philanthropic funding partner: in this case the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation and the Wyss Foundation.

With this decision of the Supervisory Board the LLF is now supporting four sites in total. North Luangwa National Park in Zambia and Madidi National Park in Bolivia were approved in October. The objective is to establish a portfolio of at least 30 globally significant legacy landscapes until 2030. The first official call for proposals will be started in 2022 and published on the LLF website.

Svenja Schulze, the recently appointed German Development Minister, said: “The diversity of species and habitats is the basis of life for us humans as well. That is why it is so important to protect nature and its diversity, particularly in the world's most biodiverse regions. Nature conservation also reduces the risk of future pandemics. Viruses are most likely to spread from animals to humans if previously untouched nature is destroyed and ecosystems are thrown out of balance. With the LLF we support outstanding natural areas worldwide. Protected areas in developing countries need reliable long-term funding and management, for nature and climate protection, but also as a livelihood for local people. It is very positive that the LLF is now supporting two more protected areas.”

Christiane Laibach, Member of the Executive Board of KfW Group, said: “The LLF’s mission is to safeguard sustainable nature conservation for future generations and preserve biodiversity and ecosystems in up to 30 globally significant conservation areas by 2030. Because nature is under increasingly greater pressure, with dramatic consequences for biodiversity and the climate. The fund is intended to counteract this problem. If at least 30% of the world’s surface is successfully protected, the risk of further pandemics will also decrease. These are often caused by `zoonoses´, infectious diseases that are transmitted between animals and humans.”  

Stefanie Lang, the Executive Director of the LLF, applauded the decision of the Supervisory Board. “The first year of the LLF ends with four approved sites. The Fund has successfully started its operations and is keeping pace to effectively financing global conservation efforts.”

Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks said: “When protected areas are well-managed, we not only conserve key ecosystems, we also create anchors of stability and conservation-led economies which can support tens of thousands of people. But adequate financial resourcing is essential. At African Parks, our management mandates are typically for 20-years, which means, we need to move beyond short-term funding commitments. That is why new, sustainable financing mechanisms, like the LLF are so essential for conservation”.

Dr. Christof Schenck, Executive Director of from FZS, said: “The LLF represents a valuable opportunity to provide long-term protection for the outstanding biodiversity of areas like Gonarezhou National Park. We are excited to join this initiative and hope the new Federal Government in Germany, together with other public and private donors, will continue to expand the LLF portfolio and support more successful conservation partnerships like the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust.”