Freeland Foundation

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Freeland Foundation
Type non-governmental not-for-profit organization
Founded early 2000
Headquarters
  • Bangkok, Thailand
Area served Southeast Asia
Focus(es) illegal wildlife trade, human trafficking, law enforcement capacity building training, preservation of biodiversity
Mission stop wildlife and human trafficking for the protection of the environment and vulnerable people
Motto If we keep a place for nature, nature keeps a place for us
Formerly called WildAid, PeunPa
Website www.freeland.org

The Freeland Foundation (rendered FREELAND Foundation by the foundation) is an international non-governmental organization working across Asia on both environmental conservation and human rights and is headquartered in Asia. The organization is dedicated to stopping wildlife and human trafficking for the protection of the environment and vulnerable people.

The organization builds responses to combat the illegal wildlife trade and habitat destruction. Its environmental conservation programs are designed to address imminent threats to endangered flora and fauna. This includes poaching and logging in protected areas, smuggling, and the subsequent sale and consumption of wildlife across the region and worldwide. With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Freeland Foundation provides expertise and support to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network), a regional inter-governmental initiative to combat wildlife smuggling.

Mission and vision[edit]

Freeland's environmental mission is to strengthen the protection of wildlife, to combat illegal wildlife trafficking, and to reduce global consumption and demand of endangered species. The organization to free the world of human slavery and wildlife trafficking by increasing law enforcement capacity, supporting vulnerable communities and raising awareness. The motivation to fight, and increase government capacity to fight, these crimes is to mitigate the devastating consequences of both wildlife and human trafficking. Unchecked (nature crime) not only ravages biodiversity, but the ultimate consequences can unravel entire ecosystems. The destruction of natural and biological resources Biological resource drags poor people further into poverty, as rural communities often depend on nature’s resources for their livelihoods. Human trafficking targets vulnerable people for labor and sexual exploitation.

Combating crimes against nature and humanity[edit]

Freeland works to reduce human and wildlife trafficking across Asia by providing training and technical assistance to police, customs and environmental agencies across the ASEAN region to combat poaching, illegal logging and human trafficking. Freeland cooperates with government task forces and facilitates cross-border inter-agency co-operation and civil society action. The organization’s trainers are former government enforcement officers.

Sustainable communities[edit]

Freeland recognizes that poverty creates the conditions for both human and wildlife trafficking. Therefore, the organization works on helping vulnerable rural communities to develop sustainable and environmentally friendly businesses, such as plant nurseries, fish and mushroom farms. Freeland also supports communities to develop renewable energy sources and reforestation projects.

Raising awareness & political will[edit]

Freeland's public awareness campaigns expose the roles that consumer demand and apathy play in wildlife and human trafficking, while also highlighting the threats these crimes pose to natural ecosystems, global biodiversity and everyone’s way of life. The urban, airports and border campaigns encourage positive action to reduce demand for endangered species and stop wildlife trafficking.

History & Evolution[edit]

Freeland Foundation was founded in 2000. Previously known as WildAid (Thailand), the organization works in partnership with governments, communities, corporations, and other NGOs worldwide. Since then, the organization’s scope of work has been expanding both geographically and thematically. In addition to protecting natural habitats and preventing the illegal trade in endangered species, the organization is now helping communities, governments and international agencies tackle human trafficking. The organization has an environmental crime investigation and enforcement training team that aims to contribute to the fight against this inhumane and exploitative trade, given the similarities and increasing connections between trafficking crimes. To reflect this expanded scope, the organization changed its name to Freeland Foundation in early 2009.

Programs[edit]

Awareness[edit]

In cooperation with national and local governments, as well as non-governmental organizations, this organization designs and coordinates public campaigns to increase awareness of the threat posed by illegal trade in endangered species and the benefits of protecting the planet’s biodiversity. Freeland's collaborations with international advertising firm JWT, major international television channels, such as the Discovery Channel, CNN and other media outlets help put wildlife crimeWildlife smuggling in the global spotlight – reaching millions of people, changing attitudes and encouraging political leaders to act.

Selected Freeland awareness campaigns[edit]

  • Sold Out presents outdoor billboards and magazine ads bearing the message Permanently Sold Out over striking photographs of endangered species, combined with telephone hotlines for reporting wildlife crime. This campaign has been featured throughout Bangkok, at airports and the region’s borders in multiple languages.
  • Wildlife Trafficking Stops Here is another visual campaign that has featured at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (including all 450 check-in counter screens) to remind travelers that transporting protected wildlife is illegal.
  • Piece of Responsibility[1] utilizes visuals, facts and practical advice to explain some of the critical environmental services wildlife provides, as well as what people can do to protect wildlife and live more harmoniously with nature. With the tag-line If we keep a place for nature, nature keeps a place for us, this campaign featured on Bangkok’s metro commuter rail with full train wraps and in-car ads, along with an interactive online component.

Training[edit]

Freeland's training programs are designed to increase capacity to protect ecosystems and prevent poaching and trade of protected wildlife in Southeast Asia. The programs aim at local staff and communities to implement self-sustaining initiatives to protect biodiversity. Environmental programs build capacity to protect wildlife and habitats, improve wildlife law enforcement, and promote sustainable livelihoods for communities to live in harmony with wildlife and their habitats. Freeland offered capacity building and support programs include: Protected Area Training Program; the Investigations Training Program; the Border Inspection and Controlled Delivery Program; the Judicial and Prosecutor Awareness Program; and the Poachers to Protectors Alternative Livelihoods Program.[2]

Intervention[edit]

Reforestation[edit]

Freeland works with park authorities, local communities, schools and private sector partners to regenerate habitat for wildlife and help mitigate global warming. Freeland reforestation activities are organized to have several positive ancillary benefits:

  • Employment - Local villagers grow saplings for the reforestation from seeds, nurturing them for months ahead of the planting.
  • Education - Student participation in the planting (which includes a full day of environment focused educational activities) builds awareness about the importance of forest preservation in future generations.
  • Community Engagement - Encouraging closer and more understanding relationships between local communities and park protection authorities.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility - Private sector businesses are given an opportunity to invest in conservation and actively participate in a project.

Alternative Livelihoods[edit]

Freeland's community outreach team encourages villagers to give up illegal poaching and logging activities through a combination of environmental awareness and the development of their own small-scale income generating sustainable and environmentally friendly businesses. Farming activities, such as organic mushroom cultivation, improve villagers’ standard of living and consequently reduce poaching and habitat destruction. This, in turn, helps maintain a healthy ecosystem for both people and wildlife.[3] Freeland's community outreach projects are a model for rural community engagement promoting sustainable alternative livelihoods and forest stewardship. Freeland is working to expand these pilot projects and facilitate their replication across Southeast and South Asia.

Law Enforcement Support[edit]

Freeland provides direct training and technical assistance to police, customs and environmental agencies to combat poaching, illegal logging, illegal wildlife trade and human trafficking. This includes extensive region-wide training for park rangers and protected area managers to help them safely and effectively protect national parks and reserves. Freeland is helping governments form task forces and facilitates cross-border inter-agency co-operation and civil society action.

Surviving Together Wildlife Monitoring & Mobile Education Unit[edit]

Freeland conducts wildlife monitoring efforts under its Surviving Together program focusing on Central Thailand’s the Dong Phayayen - Khao Yai Forest Complex, one of Southeast Asia’s largest and most important intact forest corridors. Freeland's wildlife biologists work with local park staff to survey areas, where little is known about wildlife populations. This work helps evaluate the effectiveness of patrols and identify where park protection efforts should focus. The Surviving Together program also incorporates youth education. Freeland's Mobile Education Unit visits thousands of rural school children every year to emphasize the importance of wildlife and habitat conservation through fun, hands-on activities, songs and games. These efforts are encouraging rural families to live more harmoniously with nature and nurture the next generation of wildlife conservationists.

ASEAN-WEN Support Program[edit]

Freeland Foundation, together with TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, implements a USAID-funded Support Program to the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN). The Support Program conducts national assessments, helped set up the structure of ASEAN-WEN and its Secretariat (Program Coordination Unit), and provides trainings and workshops to enhance capacity among ASEAN Member Countries’ wildlife law enforcement officials, prosecutors and the judiciary to counter wildlife crime. The Support Program promotes is helping governments form task forces and facilitates cross-border inter-agency co-operation and civil society action. It has also developed key resources including species identification guides and training manuals to help authorities institutionalize further capacity building efforts.[4]

Partners[edit]

Freeland Foundation works with local communities and a wide variety of local and international agencies, organizations, governments, donors and private sector groups across the world to implement and enhance projects to protect biodiversity and human rights. Freeland has a strong track record for bringing diverse stakeholders together to form consensus and plan joint action, for example the development of the “Pattaya Manifesto on Combatting Wildlife Crime in Asia” in 2009.[5] Key partners include: the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Department of State, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and various other U.S. Government agencies, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Thai Government and departments, Blue Moon Fund, Free the Bears Fund, Care for the Wild International, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Wildlife Alliance, Smithsonian Institution, Save the Tiger Fund, Global Tiger Initiative, creative advertising agency JWT and AsiaWorks Television.

References[edit]

External links[edit]