A New Era for WILD
For decades, WILD has been instrumental in some of the most ambitious ideas and programs in wilderness conservation. From the rugged deserts of Western Africa to tense negotiation halls of global agreements and institutions, WILD, under the leadership of its President, Vance G. Martin, has left its lasting mark on the world in the wildlife and places we have protected, and a wilder conservation movement.
But all good things come to an end.
As of January 1 this year, Vance has stepped back from his role as the leader of WILD. Amy Lewis and Jennifer Meyer have assumed the mantle of leadership that Vance carried so well for so long.
Though Vance will be missed, even if his presence and counsel is never far, Jennifer and Amy turn to the continuation of WILD’s mission with excitement and determination.
Their priority is to secure the continuity of WILD’s mission and legacy while also implementing important and necessary organizational adaptations to ensure WILD’s continued relevance and success in a changing world and conservation sector. As such, WILD will continue the incubation of some of conservation’s most innovative and exciting projects through our Collaborative Conservation Network.
Jenn and Amy will also jumpstart the next World Wilderness Congress (more details in the months to come). Since the 1970s, the World Wilderness Congress has offered the global public a grassroots forum to coordinate and mobilize around common visions and priorities for the protection of Earth’s remaining wild places. With a pulse on the current challenges and opportunities facing wilderness, both as a concept and as physical areas, WILD’s new leadership team is in the process of working closely with new and veteran partners to craft a World Wilderness Congress that maximizes benefits for our wild planet and its many guardians and stewards.
WILD will continue to invest in Indigenous Peoples in North and South America, especially the Oceti Sakowin traditional leadership of the Lakota Nation in the Northern Great Plains and the Yawanawa People in the Western Amazon. For Jenn and Amy, justifying this investment is easy, with rationales as principled as they are pragmatic. Indigenous Peoples, after all, are the cultures that have suffered most as a consequence of colonialism while simultaneously being, by many measures, nature’s best guardians. They are of the firm belief that when we strengthen traditional cultures, lifeways, and leadership, we build a more resilient environment.
Additionally, at WILD’s center is a profound belief in the importance of cultural mechanisms as drivers of true sustainability and right relationship with nature. By strengthening traditional leadership, we not only support nature’s stewards, but we also build bridges between traditional and contemporary civilization, increasing the likelihood that the Western World might re-learn and remember some of the practices we left behind when we pursued an industrial economic model. Traditional leadership will be as important for contemporary conservation as it is for the sustained defense of Indigenous lands.
In 2023, WILD’s many partners and programs can expect fresh energy and ideas to bolster existing conservation solutions and programs.
In this time of change, WILD will continue to help keep Earth wild.