Press Releases

Whitley Awards seek to fund Global South conservationists often shut out from environmental funding

Applications are now open for the globally renowned Whitley Awards, which offer major project funding to grassroots conservationists in the Global South.

The Whitley Fund for Nature is now accepting applications for their flagship prizes from effective, mid-career conservation leaders who are working in their home country in the Global South. Award winners receive £40,000 in project funding; professional communications and media training; and PR assistance for winners to gain international profile.

The call for applications comes at a time when global trends show that grassroots conservation groups are often shut out of major environmental finance, despite being increasingly recognised as key to protecting nature.

Through their award winners, the Whitley Fund for Nature supports work rooted in communities and led by local people. Over the last three decades WFN has channelled £20 million to more than 200 grassroots conservationists in 80 countries, based on a model that reverses these trends.

Supporting changemakers leading local solutions to the global biodiversity and climate crises, the Whitley Fund for Nature offers laddered, long-term support to community-based projects that are using the latest available science to scale up their work. These coveted prizes also offer peer support and a boost in profile, helping recipient organisations to leverage further support.

Purnima Barman, who won a Whitley Award in 2017 for her work building a groundswell movement in Assam, India, to protect the Greater Adjutant Storks says:

“[The Whitley Award] was a life changing recognition for me, for my species, for my villagers, and for my family.”

Each year, Sir David Attenborough, a Trustee of WFN, offers his iconic narration to tailor-made films showcasing winners’ work; which can then be used as publicity materials for conservationists to gain further funding, press coverage and local governmental support.

“Whitley Award winners are local environmental heroes who harness the best available science and lead projects with passion.”  Sir David Attenborough, WFN Trustee.

Whitley Awards are won competitively, following a global search and assessment by an expert judging panel, and are presented by WFN Patron, HRH the Princess Royal, at an annual Ceremony in London.

Applications for the Whitley Fund for Nature’s flagship Whitley Awards are open until midnight 31 October 2022.



  • Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) is a UK registered charity supporting grassroots conservation leaders in the Global South. Since its founding in 1993, WFN has channelled around £20 million to more than 200 conservationists in 80 countries.
  • A pioneer in the sector, WFN was one of the first charities to direct funding to locally-led projects. Its application process identifies inspiring individuals who combine the latest science with community-based action, to benefit wildlife, landscapes, and people.
  • WFN’s flagship prizes – Whitley Awards – are presented by Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, at a prestigious annual ceremony in London. Winners receive funding, training and media profile including films narrated by charity Trustee, Sir David Attenborough.
  • WFN operates a rigorous application process involving expert panel representation from international NGOs including WWF-UK and Fauna and Flora International (FFI).
  • Whitley Award winners join an international alumni network eligible for WFN Continuation Funding, allowing successful conservation solutions to be scaled up. Projects receive up to £100,000 over two years and include nature-based solutions that jointly address the climate and biodiversity crises.
  • The associated publicity of winning a Whitley Award puts a spotlight on their important work, boosting profile both in the UK and winners’ home countries.
  • Every year, a Whitley Award alumnus is chosen to receive the Whitley Gold Award, worth £100,000, in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the conservation sector. Joining the Judging Panel, the Whitley Gold Award recipient also acts as a mentor to Whitley Award winners.


Kate Stephenson, Head of Communications at Whitley Fund for Nature: [email protected]

Images: Sir David Attenborough stands with 2016 Whitley Award Winners, Workers from the Community Nurseries Project, IPÊ © – Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas