Advancing U.S. leadership in international conservation through public and private partnerships and developing the next generation of Congressional conservation leaders
Wildlife Conservation Society
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. They do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.
The Wildlife Conservation Society's story began in the early 1900’s when they successfully helped the American bison recover on the Western Plains. Today, they protect many of the world’s iconic creatures in the United States and abroad, including gorillas in the Congo, tigers in India, wolverines in the Yellowstone Rockies, and ocean giants in the worlds amazing seascapes.
WCS in Afghanistan
In Afghanistan, WCS sees sustainable resource management as key to improving livelihoods and providing long-term stability in a country where 80% of the people depend economically on the natural resource base for their survival, and with an environment that has been badly degraded through 30 years of conflict. WCS’s work in Afghanistan is cross-cutting and concentrated around five major pillars: the creation of community governance institutions; facilitation of community livelihood development; building of capacity to manage the health interface between livestock, wildlife and humans; strengthening of laws, policies and institutions; and development of technical capacity for natural resource management at all levels. Through funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), WCS combines field-based science, training, and governance building to ensure sustainable community-government co-management of natural resources and encourage a real involvement in protected areas so that tangible benefits flow back to the communities and the environment. WCS believes that sustainable environmental management is a critical part of reconstruction in Afghanistan – providing improved livelihoods, jobs, and protection for the country’s unique biodiversity over the long term.
Clean Cookstoves in Afghanistan Bring Environmental, Social and Economic Benefits
As the only international conservation organization working in Afghanistan, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) sees sustainable resource management as key to improving livelihoods and providing long-term stability in a country where 80 percent of the people depend economically on the natural resource base for their survival, and with an environment that has been badly degraded through 30 years of conflict.
WCS has embarked on an initiative to introduce fuel-efficient cookstoves to villages in Bamyan Province and the Wakhan Corridor. The project aims to conserve diminishing natural resources while creating alternative livelihoods, improvements in people’s health, and other benefits.
The currently used tandoor ovens require large amounts of wood for fuel, which affects Afghanistan’s already degraded forests and shrublands, endangering a critical resource for rural people, livestock, and wildlife. WCS is working with local women and artisans to introduce new fuel-efficient stoves that can reduce the amount of local timber collected for fuel by up to 75 percent. Thus far, more than 550 fuel efficient stoves have been distributed in Bamyan and Wakhan villages, and this number is going up daily.
The new stove technology is also being used as a way to bolster economic development in the region. Rather than simply importing the stoves, the program brings craftsmen into Afghanistan from Pakistan, where the technology was developed. The Pakistani craftsmen train artisans in the methods of manufacturing the stoves so that people who live in Afghanistan can produce and sell them locally, creating additional economic benefit to communities.
Clean cookstoves are part of a larger WCS effort in Afghanistan, supported by USAID, to help local people co-manage their own landscapes and natural resources with the Afghan Government. Reducing the harvesting of fuel wood insulates villages from increased occurrence of mudslides and other disasters, which would increase scarcity and destroy economic stability. Linking these communities with the provincial and central government also increases the reach and rule of law into distant rural areas, all of which positively affects U.S. national security.
Keeping Bushmeat Off the Rails in Cameroon
Many rural communities in Cameroon hunt bushmeat, both to eat and to sell for a living. As populations continue to grow in cities as well as in forest logging concessions and mining camps, demand for wild meat rises. The railway has been a major transportation link for bushmeat sales, and the WCS is working to stop this transportation in order to get the problem under control. WCS plays a critical role in training ecoguards and leading education programs to ensure enforcement of regulations that ban the use of railways to transport bushmeat and other wildlife products. Also, WCS has carried out a series of surveys of commercial hunting and trade in bushmeat at selected sites, in order to understand the socio-economic dimension of this traffic and its impact on wildlife.
Discover more about WCS's other projects »