During its 25th anniversary year, the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) is continuing to provide critical support to community-led conservation efforts globally.
As many organizations struggle with unexpected challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, support from the DCF will help provide key resources to carry forward efforts to bolster communities and protect wildlife including wading birds and oyster reefs in Florida, penguins in Argentina, sharks in The Bahamas and lemurs in Madagascar, among others.
“People are the heart of every successful conservation effort, and we are pleased to continue to support the dedicated conservationists and local community members working together to protect wildlife and the habitats they depend on,” said Elissa Margolis, senior vice president, Enterprise Social Responsibility, The Walt Disney Company.
“The programs we support include strategies that provide solutions that will help both people and wildlife to thrive, a key component to ensuring that nature is valued and protected for years to come.”
The DCF is supporting 50 conservation organizations working to protect more than 100 species through its Inspiring Action Conservation Grants Program this year; these include the following initiatives:
University of Central Florida (UCF) Research Foundation: Oysters, Endangered Birds, and Children: The UCF Research Foundation is helping advance science and engage communities in the restoration of oyster reefs in the Indian River Lagoon in Florida. Oyster reefs provide essential services for healthy coastal ecosystems and support the important habitats needed by multiple threatened species, including wading birds. The program also works with Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Florida, engaging hospitalized kids as citizen-scientists by having them help to identify birds from remote wildlife cameras.
Global Penguin Society (GPS): Penguins, People and the Planet: GPS has already had great success protecting penguins and their habitats, leading an effort to establish 32 million acres of terrestrial and marine protected areas in South America. This project will help support the conservation of Magellanic penguins in Argentina, expanding research to help protect penguins and working to address the threats they face, from marine plastic pollution to climate change. It will also help engage local kids through nature experiences and educational resources, as well as host online classrooms with National Geographic to engage thousands of kids around the world on the actions they can take to help penguins and their ocean homes.
Beneath the Waves (BTW): Shark Survival Inside Protected Areas: Shark Survival Inside Protected Areas: BTW plans to conduct a series of impactful scientific research expeditions to New Providence Island and the Exumas in The Bahamas, aimed at monitoring the behaviour of sharks to better understand the value that Marine Protected Areas play in their survival. This research is key for identifying critical habitats and for demonstrating that long-term protections can benefit ecosystems and people. In addition, BTW will visit classrooms in the region to help kids – from primary school to high school – learn about the importance of sharks and provide opportunities for students to join research trips to gain career skills in science and conservation.
Conservation Fusion (CF): Inspiring Leaders, Protecting Lemurs in Madagascar: CF is connecting people to the science of lemur and forest conservation through education, research, and leadership skills development – thereby helping to create environmental stewards. Madagascar is home to 112 species of lemurs – found nowhere else on earth – and sadly, 94 percent of all lemurs are threatened with extinction. CF is working to address the threats lemurs face by working with local communities to highlight tangible benefits of eco-tourism, empower youth and restore critical habitat by planting more than 60,000 trees each year.
In addition, the DCF is also continuing its support through the Saving Wildlife Program, which seeks to advance conservation collaborations working to drive comprehensive strategies aimed at reversing the decline of butterflies, coral reefs, cranes, elephants, gorillas, monkeys, rhinos, sea turtles, sharks and rays, as well as tigers. These collaborations are helping to bring back species in important ecosystems from California to Brazil, and Kenya to China among other regions; addressing threats spanning from unsustainable fisheries to habitat loss and poaching; and providing communities around the world with the tools and resources to protect their wildlife.
The enthusiasm of our dedicated Cast Members and Disney Conservation Fund Team Wildlife staff is really what brings these stories of conservation to life. This love of animals and nature can be readily seen in our various parks, resorts and experiences.
“We are grateful for the generous contributions of our guests, that when combined with unwavering support from The Walt Disney Company, have helped the Disney Conservation Fund celebrate a milestone of more than $100 million in total conservation giving since 1995,” said Dr. Mark Penning, Vice President for Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.
“The commitment of our community of Cast Members, guests, Disney fans and conservation partners around the world gives us hope that we will make a meaningful difference in our mission to save wildlife and protect this planet we call home.”