The IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands (IUCN NL), a platform of 25 IUCN members in the Netherlands has a unique small grants program which provides funding local NGOs to purchase and protect threatened wildlife habitats and vulnerable ecosystems around the world.
In areas under high pressure the purchase of remnants of natural vegetation and creating private protected areas can have a massive impact on the conservation of local biodiversity. With exploding land prices, triggered by developments in the ‘biofuel’ market or development projects, there is no time to wait for decisive action from politicians or decision makers. (In the Paraguayan Chaco for example, hundreds of hectares of dry forest are destroyed every day). If used by capable NGOs, land purchase can be an extremely valuable and fast-working instrument to protect threatened ecosystems and safeguard them for future generations. The SPN programme provides the financial support for such dedicated NGOs to implement these much needed interventions.
The SPN programme works only with carefully selected local conservation NGOs, with a proven capacity in management of natural resources. These NGOs will eventually own and manage the purchased areas. The SPN programme DOES NOT own any lands, it only provides the funds for the purchase. Buying land and placing the management, and/or ownership, in the hands of an NGO can be a delicate and sometimes complicated matter.
The funds are eligible for local conservation NGOs working in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Pacific. Although the geographical range of SPN is very broad, the bulk of the projects funded are located in Latin America. Legislation in most countries of this continent makes it relatively easy (compared to many countries in Africa and tropical Asia) for NGOs to purchase and manage land, and arrange for the title deeds to be registered in their name.