Opwall Trust funded projects seek to empower communities and individuals to develop successful commercially viable enterprises linked to the protection 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.
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 (Wildlife Conservation Products scheme) 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.
Opwall Trust was created in 2000 to provide the focus for funding conservation management interventions at sister organisation Operation Wallacea study sites. 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 used to monitor the effect of alternative community enterprises on nature conservation. Opwall Trust is a UK registered charity (Charity number 1078362) which is entirely independent of Operation Wallacea, with no shared Directors.
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.