A GRAND VISION FOR A BASIC IDEA
Wildlife Works was founded in 1997 by Mike Korchinsky with a mission to create a market-based solution for wildlife conservation that provided real, sustainable development to local communities. Mike’s basic idea is that if you want wildlife, you have to make sure it works for local communities.
Wildlife Works’ first project was Rukinga, our wildlife sanctuary located between Tsavo East and West National parks in Southeastern Kenya. The intense human-wildlife conflict was threatening to cut off a vital elephant migration corridor, and was driving wildlife populations down at a dramatic rate.
In partnership with the community, Wildlife Works committed to investing in local job creation, and the community agreed to stop clearing forest and killing wildlife.
The first two local job creation activities in 1998 were the building of our eco factory and its team, and the creation of our unarmed rangers troop to patrol the wildlife corridor and educate the community about conservation. During the 2 years it took to build the factory and train the first 10 seamstresses, our rangers started seeing wildlife coming back and staying longer. They knew they were making an impact.
Wildlife Works Eco Factory released their first collection of organic cotton tees in 2001. With living wages and full health benefits, these women were finally able to provide for their families, without engaging in poaching or slash and burn agriculture.
When Mike knew he had a market-driven conservation model that worked, he sought out to expand Wildlife Works' impact. In 2009, Wildlife Works’ launched the REDD+ conservation initiative and soon became the first to issue VCS verified REDD+ credits from our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project. The revenue from the credits allowed us to expand our reach in Kenya to employ over 300 local people, protect over 500,000 acres of dry land forest and fund development projects that affect over 116,000 community members through our various social, educational, health and economic programs. Our 300+ locally hired full time employees include conservation rangers, horticulturalists, machinists, seamstresses, foresters, carpenters, construction workers, drivers, mechanics and administrative personnel.
With the dryland Acacia-Commiphora forest under our protection and its original biodiversity restored, the Kasigau Corridor REDD project was awarded the Gold level status by the Community and Biodiversity Standard for exceptional biodiversity and climate benefits.
In 2011, we replicated this model and launched the Mai Ndombe REDD+ project in the D.R.C which protects over 740,000 acres of critical bonobo and forest elephant habitat within the world's second-largest intact rainforest.
Today, we are a leader in REDD+, having directed tens of millions of dollars of private sector funds into forest conservation projects that have given agency to forest communities' economic and social growth while protecting their forests. We bring our expertise to REDD+ projects all over the world, both as consultants and project developers.