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Member Insight: Friends of AWC | 30 Years of Effective Conservation

Image credit: W Lawler/AWC

Australian Wildlife Conservancy: 30 Years of Effective Conservation

A practical and efficiency-focused model for conservation outcomes

By Lizzy Crotty, Friends of AWC

Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) is committed to reversing the decline of Australia’s threatened wildlife by delivering effective on-ground management, informed by world-class science. Recognising Australia’s ongoing extinction crisis, British entrepreneur, philanthropist and AWC’s founder, Martin Copley, was driven to help halt the devastating loss of wildlife and restore our natural capital. He instilled a practical and efficiency-focused structure which has allowed us to become one of the largest conservation organisations in the world.

AWC now protects more native animal species – and more threatened species – than any other non-government organisation in the country. This success comes down to our model of accountability in generating a measurable return on investment for biodiversity. With an unwavering focus on science, the majority of our resources are deployed to deliver outcomes in the field. We spend a considerably larger proportion of our donation revenue directly on conservation objectives than on marketing and administration, in contrast to many other comparable conservation charities.

Image Credit: R Slobodan/AWC

Image Credit: R Slobodan/AWC

In the 2019/20 financial year, expenditure incurred on conservation projects constituted 87%, with only 13% of outlay on fundraising campaigns and administration. These figures are reflected almost exactly in the financial reports of the last decade. AWC’s model of fiscal accountability has enabled us to acquire large areas of land and yielded positive, measurable results across our conservation projects.

AWC now owns, manages or co-manages 30 properties for conservation across 6.5 million hectares (16.1 million acres) of the country – equivalent to more than a quarter of the United Kingdom. This portfolio protects 74% of native terrestrial mammal species, 88% of native terrestrial bird species, 56% of amphibian species and 54% of reptile species. Many populations of species have increased under our management, including Bilby, Numbat, Woylie (Brush-tailed Bettong), Bridled Nailtail Wallaby and Purple-crowned Fairywren populations, despite declines elsewhere.

Our model of fiscal efficiency as a non-profit has allowed us to form significant partnerships with various stakeholders across Australia. In May 2016, AWC entered into a historic partnership with the NSW Government to deliver land management and science services at two National Parks. This represents a bold new public-private partnership model for conservation and the first time in Australia that a private (non-profit) organisation has been contracted to deliver national park management services. This initiative marks the emergence of an important new collaborative model aimed at helping to increase Australia’s ecological return on investment.

This year marks 30 years of effective conservation for AWC. The fusion between science and business continues to inform our strategy moving forward, enabling us to remain a financially robust organisation.

Whilst on the surface it appears that large organisations enjoy numerous advantages, such as more resources and better skilled teams, they can struggle in circumstances where their adversaries are able to rapidly change.

Learn more about Friends of AWC and how you can help here.


About Friends of AWC

Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) represents a new model for conservation – one based on practical land management and world-class science – which delivers measurable increases in wild populations of some of the country’s most endangered species. Recognising that no other non-profit organisation in Australia provides the same ecological return on investment, Friends of Australian Wildlife Conservancy (Friends of AWC) was formed to raise funds in the UK and Europe for AWC’s work. Friends of AWC is a registered UK charity supporting AWC to facilitate the delivery of integral conservation programs including extensive ecological monitoring, research and effective land management.

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