WWF Panda Labs: “Moon Shot” Solutions to Empower and Value Communities as Global Environmental Stewards

Project Ark
3 min readApr 15, 2021
Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

Around the world, local and indigenous communities in developing and emerging economies are on the front line of natural resource conservation. With customary rights to the territories and natural resources, these communities are the gatekeepers of our most precious landscapes and seascapes.

Many directly derive their livelihoods from their natural environment and have been protecting the natural resources they depend on for centuries. Yet due to economic scarcity and social disparity, local and indigenous people living in biodiversity hotspots are also vulnerable to overconsumption of natural resources. Therefore, they are critical allies as environmental stewards. However, they are also in danger of being left behind if conservation efforts fail to involve them directly and trigger solutions with verifiable benefits for at-risk communities.

If we can solve these problems, we could unlock rights-based benefits for hundreds of millions of people worldwide along with the ecosystems that they protect and conserve. We will do this by testing innovative ideas (new and existing) in 4–5 pilot biodiversity hotspots (Latin America, East Africa, South-East Asia and Central and Eastern Europe) and 1–10 communities, with a clear pipeline for scaling across an entire region (10–100 communities) within a one year Panda Labs cycle.

Project Ark is supporting the testing of one of these projects in a landscape that is home to Europe’s largest network of virgin forests, where the highest populations of wolves and brown bears are, and where WWF Romania has been leading an ambitious bison rewilding initiative — with now over 60 free-roaming bison. In order to boost rewilding efforts and slow down the decline of these precious European ecosystems, we need to direct more benefits directly to the local communities who have their hands on these natural resources. By this, we mean to fund locals to do conservation work instead of making a living from overharvesting natural resources — and create a collective rewards system if impact is achieved.

Photo by Subhasish Dutta on Unsplash

For those of us, living and working in a natural hot-spot, it is always a question of how we can empower locals to become conservationists — this is the ideal as they are the rights holders and gatekeepers of these landscapes. If we get it right, nature would need no more «saving» and we would become obsolete — this is success for me.

Until then we’re here to try different mechanisms to direct the most benefits to communities on the frontlines, to incentivise responsible use of resources until it becomes the new norm. It is possible, as there are millions of people globally who want to lend a shoulder or a buck for real impact on the ground. I see Project Ark as a transparent pipeline for motivation and impact to flow faster and with less intermediaries.

says Oana Mondoc, Community and Innovation Specialist for WWF Romania.

As part of Project Ark’s Egg NFT Campaign, each egg purchased will contribute to this effort by WWF Romania as well as give conscious buyers something to collect. After the campaign is completed, we will transfer funds in a transparent way to the conservation projects, but we will not stop there! For each completed campaign, a report will be generated that will show the impact achieved for the project on the ground. We ensure that there is visibility over the impact created, not just through the amount of money raised, which will allow for a better overview of the efforts undertaken.

Implementation plan for Egg NFT Campaign

Join our community to meet the team, discuss more meaningful projects and about sustainability and conservation, as well as know the true potential of the NFTs and how they tie into our plans of Staking, Dynamic NFTs and the Ark DAO.

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Project Ark

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