Opwall Trust funds projects that empower communities and individuals to develop successful commercially viable enterprises linked to the conservation of biodiversity. Funding for nature conservation projects often includes provision of alternative livelihoods but in many cases these alternatives are not then linked to enhanced protection of the wildlife and habitats.
The Opwall Trust was created in 2000 to provide the focus for funding conservation management interventions at our sister organisation’s study sites; namely Operation Wallacea’s sites in 14 countries. Operation Wallacea is funded by student tuition fees that supports annual biodiversity monitoring programmes focusing on forests and reefs. These surveys produce valuable data that can be are used to monitor the effect of alternative community enterprises on nature conservation. These data allow the Trust to be well informed and evidence-led in its approach to improving community’s standard of living, inextricably connected to their environment and it’s sustainable use. All administration costs are funded by Operation Wallacea, so 100% of funds acquired by the Trust is available to be distributed to the different projects without an associated overhead. The Opwall Trust is a UK registered charity (Charity number 1078362) and is entirely independent of Operation Wallacea, with no shared Directors or Trustees.
Opwall Trust is unique in pioneering the concept of tying enterprise development and investment to contracts with the communities agreeing to alternative means of livelihood. These include forest and threatened species conservation contracts (enhanced value conservation products) and fishing license replacement income to protect reef habitats (carrageenan extraction plant). Once individuals or communities have a financial benefit in protecting their wildlife then the effects can be spectacular.
This collaboration between a business funded model (Operation Wallacea) and a charity (Opwall Trust) has proved to be a strong symbiotic relationship. The costs of identifying potential projects to fund and the mechanisms most likely to be successful are all part of the Operation Wallacea funded research programmes so the Opwall Trust does not need to spend hard won funds on initial project development. Moreover, the Operation Wallacea annual biodiversity monitoring programmes produce free of charge the data needed to monitor the success of any conservation management interventions funded by the Opwall Trust. From the Operation Wallacea viewpoint there is little point in collecting biodiversity data if there is no conservation benefit. Conservation management interventions cannot be funded just from the tuition fees paid by the participating students so the follow-on funding from the Opwall Trust is essential.