Who we are

The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) is a UK registered charity offering Whitley Awards and ongoing support to outstanding nature conservationists around the developing world.

We aim to:

  • Find and fund the most effective grassroots conservation leaders in developing countries.
  • Support the scale-up of projects with a track record of success, founded on scientific evidence and community involvement.
  • Fund practical work that will have a long-lasting impact on the ground.
  • Provide a platform for winners to boost their national and international profile.
  • Work with winners to improve awareness of the serious problems facing biodiversity worldwide and address them through effective and inspiring solutions.

2016 Whitley Award winners with Sir David Attenborough

How we work

WFN gives funding, training and recognition to local conservation leaders working in resource-poor, biodiversity-rich countries. We offer three types of grant to enable conservationists to scale up their vital work and make a real and measurable difference to wildlife and local communities.

The Whitley Awards

Our flagship conservation prizes are won competitively following assessment by an expert academic panel and are worth £40,000 in project funding over one year. Also called ‘Green Oscars’, these high-profile Awards are presented by our patron, HRH The Princess Royal at the annual Whitley Awards Ceremony in London.

The Whitley Gold Award

Each year a previous Whitley Award winner is selected to receive the Whitley Gold Award in recognition of their outstanding contribution to conservation. Our Gold Award winners are international advocates for biodiversity with the passion and ambition to spread conservation messages to a wider audience. The Award is worth up to £60,000 in project funding over one year.

Continuation Funding

WFN provides further funding to the most successful Whitley Award winners to take their projects to the next level and bring about lasting change for endangered species and their habitats. Applications are only open to previous Whitley Award winners who can apply for grants competitively each year. Many winners go on to become some of the most influential conservationists in their field, with their projects making a difference at both the grassroots and political level.

We have earned our reputation by:

  • Using rigorous methods of application screening involving an expert academic panel and international reference checks.
  • Interviewing Whitley Award finalists before selecting winners, ensuring we know and trust the individuals to whom we give funds.
  • Attracting applications from leaders in locations where funds are hardest to raise, most needed, and have the largest conservation impact.
  • Ensuring more than 85% of the donations we receive goes directly to projects, taking only what is vital for efficient grant administration.
  • Supporting nature conservationists who are usually nationals of the countries where they work, who are often best placed to bring about change, build capacity, and enable projects to become self-supporting.
  • Offering a scheme focused on long-term conservation benefit, not one-off grant giving.
  • Giving our winners PR support and professional media and speech training to help raise their national and international profile.
  • Maintaining close contact with our international winner network, and providing on-going advice, collaboration and funding opportunities.

WFN is a very special organisation. It’s small. It’s very precisely focused…and so it is able to give its money where it really counts; where every penny counts. 
Sir David Attenborough, Trustee


Sir David Attenborough meeting a few of the 2016 Whitley Award winners

Read more about the Whitley Fund for Nature.