Empowering communities to safeguard the planet
Introducing Wildlife Heritage Areas
A Wildlife Heritage Area is an outstanding wildlife watching destination where local people recognise their natural heritage with a deep sense of pride and play a central role in protecting wild animals and their habitats.
As animal welfare and sustainable tourism in general become more important for the travelling public, Wildlife Heritage Areas will identify places that meet the highest standards of animal welfare, wildlife conservation, community well-being, and sustainability, whilst also maintaining high tourism value.
By coming together to reconnect with, protect and respect nature, Wildlife Heritage Areas will help turn the tide on biodiversity loss and wildlife suffering by demonstrating the power of local communities to help solve the planet’s most urgent issues.
Introducing the Wildlife Heritage Network
The Wildlife Heritage Network designates Wildlife Heritage Areas through strategic partnerships between specialist NGOs, wildlife experts, responsible travel companies and community champions.
Network members work with communities to design more sustainable wildlife experiences and enhance cultural links that celebrate nature as a powerful tool to encourage positive change for animals, people, and places.
By getting involved in the Wildlife Heritage Network, you can play a part in designating Wildlife Heritage Areas as outstanding and responsible wildlife watching destinations.
We are looking for specialist wildlife NGOs, wildlife experts, responsible tourism companies, and local communities who will work together to engage, empower and support local people in their efforts to protect animals and their habitats.
Sign up here to receive further information and learn how you can get involved from the outset as we develop the Wildlife Heritage Network and move towards the launch of Wildlife Heritage Areas in 2023.
What is a Wildlife Heritage Area?
A Wildlife Heritage Area is an outstanding wildlife watching destination where local people recognise with a deep sense of pride their natural heritage and play a central role in protecting it. Each Wildlife Heritage Area goes through a process developed by the Wildlife Heritage Network (see below) to become designated.
What is the Wildlife Heritage Network?
The Wildlife Heritage Network includes specialist NGOs, wildlife experts, responsible tourism companies, and local communities working together to engage, empower and support local people in their efforts to protect animals and their habitats.
Each member of the Wildlife Heritage Network signs an ethical and wildlife friendly pledge, commits to time bound responsibilities and undertakes training. Members interact with each other to exchange information and ideas, seek advice, and develop professional and social contacts.
Ultimately, the Wildlife Heritage Network sets a new global benchmark for responsible wildlife tourism - it supports communities in their efforts to deliver better outcomes for animals, people and places.
Can you be certified as a Wildlife Heritage Area?
Wildlife Heritage Areas is not a certification scheme. Instead, we use simple, flexible, and holistic criteria to demonstrate rigour and continuous improvement. In addition, expert NGO partners support and guide communities towards outcomes that benefit people, place, and wildlife.
What is required to be part of the Wildlife Heritage Network?
All members of the Wildlife Heritage Network share the same values, principles, hopes and dreams. How do we know that? Because they all sign up to our wildlife friendly pledge, agree to time bound actions, commit to supporting the efforts of local communities and advising Wildlife Heritage Network members, and take on training to understand how our standards are met.
What makes Wildlife Heritage Areas unique?
Wildlife Heritage Areas are community-led and guided by a deep respect for both individual animals, species and ecosystems leading to improved welfare outcomes for all. Tourism plays a pivotal role in this programme, driving change and a shift in emphasis away from the consumptive and harmful exploitation of wildlife towards respectful coexistence and responsible tourism experiences. The result? Some of the highest quality, responsible and authentic wildlife watching and cultural experiences in the world.
The story so far
Wildlife Heritage Areas is a global programme developed by World Animal Protection and the World Cetacean Alliance.
It connects specialist NGOs, wildlife experts, responsible travel companies and local communities through the Wildlife Heritage Network to designate outstanding places called Wildlife Heritage Areas. In these places, local people protect species and habitats to which they are intrinsically linked.
The travel industry currently has no way to identify wildlife destinations that are meeting the highest standards of animal welfare, wildlife conservation, community well-being and sustainability, whilst also maintaining high tourism value. Designating Wildlife Heritage Areas will solve this problem by providing a clear marker for the travel industry and the public.
The concept of Wildlife Heritage Areas was born out of the success of the Whale Heritage Sites programme. Initiated by the World Cetacean Alliance in 2015, and run in partnership with World Animal Protection since 2019, Whale Heritage Sites showcase an entire community and their relationship with whales and dolphins by encouraging respectful human-cetacean coexistence – celebrating cetaceans in local culture, arts and events; supporting local economic and environmental sustainability; and developing locally based science, research and education. Today, Whale Heritage Sites exist in Australia, South Africa, Spain, and the USA.
With an expected launch date of May 2023, the Wildlife Heritage Area online platform will guide and inform anyone interested in responsible wildlife experiences and share inspiring stories of communities coming together to protect wildlife, habitats and places. The platform will also charter and celebrate each Wildlife Heritage Area’s journey.
By continually monitoring progress, Wildlife Heritage Areas will provide the travel industry and travellers with real life examples of how to identify and support high standards of animal welfare, wildlife conservation, and sustainable practice. In addition, new opportunities will be created for visitors to engage with the unique culture, heritage and biodiversity that underpins each community’s wildlife offering.
Meet the team
Meet our team of experts on animal welfare, wildlife conservation, and responsible tourism, all working together to bring Wildlife Heritage Areas to life!