Rich guy does a fabulous thing

Here is a very uplifting post I found on the Mother Nature Network site. It’s about an extraordinary project being undertaken by a man who has enjoyed the blessings of hard work and good fortune. Now he’s passing on some of those blessings to our planet, and to us. Good on ’em!

“If you follow global conservation and don’t already know the name Hansjörg Wyss, there’s a good chance you soon will.

Born in Bern, Switzerland, the 83-year-old entrepreneur and businessman first made his fortune in the Belgian steel industry before establishing the U.S. division of Synthes, a multinational medical device manufacturer…

Now, Wyss — an avid outdoorsman and… resident of the quaint mountain town of Wilson, Wyoming — is set to help mend the planet’s most fractured natural areas with the establishment of the Wyss Campaign for Nature, a special project of the Wyss Foundation that aims to conserve and protect 30% of the planet’s lands and oceans by 2030. This is double the amount of the planet’s surface that’s currently protected.

Bolstered by a $1 billion investment, the campaign plans to reach this ambitious benchmark by ‘creating and expanding protected areas, establishing more ambitious international conservation targets, investing in science, and inspiring conservation action around the world.’

This will all be achieved with help from major conservation players including the National Geographic Society, which will assist on the public awareness and outreach front, as well as The Nature Conservancy and a host of local project partners.

This is huge — and hugely encouraging — news, particularly in an era when headlines on the topic trend towards dire and potentially catastrophic. Yet this act of environmental stewardship shouldn’t come as a surprise to those familiar with Wyss, a multibillionaire whose impactful but low-key largesse has predominately benefitted social and environmental causes, including a handful of high-profile maneuvers to stop fossil fuel industries from degrading protected lands.

Wyss’ foundation has also, among other things, supported anti-poaching efforts, river restoration projects, African national park improvements and rails-to-trails initiatives. Most of the foundation’s work, however, has focused on land conservation in his beloved adopted home, the American West.

The foreign-born Wyomingite who, as a young student from abroad living in Colorado, ‘developed a lifelong love for America’s national parks and public lands’ according to his foundation biography, is also the money — and the name — behind Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biological Inspired Engineering, which was created in 2008…

Already, the campaign has identified nine locally led conservation projects spread across 13 countries — 10 million acres of land and 17,000 square kilometers of ocean in total — that will receive $48 million in assistance. As time goes on, additional funds will be granted to additional projects… the grants are being awarded to projects that already enjoy widespread local support as they’re more likely to remain protected over the long term than less established projects that lack it…

Aconquija/Wyss site

The first nine conservation projects to receive grants are Aconquija National Park [completed 2019!] and the National Reserve Project in Argentina; the Ansenuza National Park Project, also in Argentina; Costa Rica’s proposed Corcovado Marine Reserve; the multi-country Caribbean Marine Protected Areas initiative; the Andes Amazon Fund, which impacts Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil and Guyana; Romania’s Fundatia Conservation Carpathia, which spearheads conservation efforts in the Carpathian Mountains; the Edéhzhíe Dehcho Protected Area and National Wildlife Area in Canada’s Northwest Territories; Australia’s Nimmie-Caira Project; and the Gonarezhou National Park Project in Zimbabwe.”

Yosemite by Tuxyso/Wikimedia

In an inspiring op-ed, Wyss said: ‘I believe this ambitious goal is achievable because I’ve seen what can be accomplished,’ he writes, stressing the importance of support from fellow philanthropists and local governments. ‘We need to embrace the radical, time-tested and profoundly democratic idea of public-land protection that was invented in the United States, tested in Yellowstone and Yosemite, and now proven the world over…

This clear, bold and achievable goal would encourage policymakers around the world to do far more to support communities working to conserve these places… For the sake of all living things, let’s see to it that far more of our planet is protected by the people, for the people and for all time.’ “

Now THAT is the can-do attitude we all should adopt in our lives. God really does work miracles through us people sometimes! Cheers, Mr. Wyss!

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