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What are the benefits of becoming a Wildlife Heritage Area?

There are many benefits to becoming a Wildlife Heritage Area including: 

  1. Promoting your destination to responsible tourism operators
  2. Accessible website helps you to manage the programme
  3. Promotional campaigns to drive interest
  4. Enjoy a programme purpose-built for communities
  5. Best practice sharing leads to tangible economic benefits
  6. Support from NGOs and wildlife experts
  7. Designed around principles of effective collaboration for communities
  8. Drives social benefits for your community
  9. Champions local solutions to global biodiversity loss and wildlife suffering
  10. requires continual improvement (it’s not just about the badge)
  11. Application is FREE and open to all communities
How do I form a steering committee?

To coordinate and facilitate the development of your Wildlife Heritage Area (WHA), we require you to have or form a steering committee. This body should be representative of the diverse stakeholders within your community. We encourage you to seek out enthusiastic, creative and passionate individuals who can serve on the steering committee and help apply, launch, steer, and sustain your Wildlife Heritage Area. 

Here are some tips for forming an effective steering committee: 

  • Include staff, volunteers, and community members
  • Ensure that the membership is diverse and inclusive
  • Assign leadership
  • Keep it simple and meaningful
  • Meet on a regular basis
  • Establish sub-committees / working groups for specific tasks
What is a Steering Committee?

A "steering committee" is a "governing device" used to organise key project stakeholders and empower them to "steer" a project (or group of projects) to a successful conclusion. 

And "steering" is the key word. Steering is not managing. Managing gets the job done, but steering determines what the job is. We all know that every project must be led by an underlying purpose and a vision. To deliver required results, that purpose and vision must be clearly defined, it must be monitored and it must be maintained.  That's the role of the project steering committee - to deliberate, make decisions, advise, provide strategic oversight, and to serve as the primary advocate for all the assigned initiatives.

What is the application process like?

The Wildlife Heritage Area application process is run through an easy-to-use web platform, which guides applicants through initial registration, uploading evidence to meet the Wildlife Heritage Area criteria, and creating a listings page.

To be designated a Wildlife Heritage Area, an applicant must:

  1. Bring together a steering committee which is representative of the wildlife-friendly community living and working in the relevant area. 
  2. The steering committee must provide two pieces of evidence that meet each Indicator.
  3. The steering committee must meet Criteria 1,2, 4, and 5. If tourism experiences and visitor attractions involving wildlife exist or are being planned within the Wildlife Heritage Area, they must also meet Criterion 3.

As part of this process, each Wildlife Heritage Area will be matched with a specialist wildlife NGO. This organisation will support the Wildlife Heritage Area through the application process and, once evidence has been uploaded, including a Management Plan and Steering Committee details, assess the evidence and designate the Area once the required standards have been met.

An Independent Review Panel, made up of people from designated Wildlife Heritage Areas, will review designations every six months to sense-check the process.

To maintain designation, each Wildlife Heritage Area will provide updated information and evidence every three years. This will be reviewed by the Independent Review Panel. 

In the interest of transparency and best practice sharing, all information provided by a Wildlife Heritage Area for application will be publicly available, however a more prominent listings page will showcase key facts and stories. These pages are designed to appeal to travellers, travel businesses, and anyone passionate about wildlife and conservation.

If filling out an online application form is not possible for a Wildlife Heritage Area, an offline version is available.

How long does it take to be designated as a Wildlife Heritage Area?

The time needed to complete the application is different for every area and depends on many factors including the size of the area, the level of collaboration already achieved, and how much work is required to meet the criteria. Some areas are able to meet the standards required in a few weeks, but for most it takes a minimum of several months.

How long is the designation valid for?

Wildlife Heritage Areas are designated for three years provided that standards are maintained and annual reports are submitted. After three years a new management plan must be submitted and approved in order for the Area to be designated for a further three years.

Do government authorities need to be involved?

Most applications involve collaboration with government authorities. This might include local governments, local councils, tourist departments, wildlife and conservation departments, national park authorities and others. Involvement ranges from active participation on the steering committee to a letter of support or endorsement. However, involving government authorities in an application is not a requirement for designation because in some places this involvement can be ineffective or counterproductive. In these situations, the applicant must be able to show that the community is capable of influencing positive changes for wildlife and people within the Wildlife Heritage Area.

How much is the fee and what is charged for?

Application to become a Wildlife Heritage Area is free. However, to meet the standards required, communities must link up with a specialist wildlife NGO assessor affiliated to the Wildlife Heritage Network. Some NGOs may provide this service for free whilst others may charge a fee. 


How will the designated area be promoted?

Wildlife Heritage Areas are supported by Wildlife Heritage Network members, including NGOs, wildlife experts, tourism operators and storytellers, who work together to promote areas and assist with wildlife-friendly tourism opportunities. The Wildlife Heritage Area listing page is designed with travellers, travel businesses and journalists in-mind, providing inspiring and engaging content to showcase the project.

Does the Wildlife Heritage Area team make technical visits?

No. However, the Wildlife NGO assessing your area may choose to visit as part of their assessment. We also plan to conduct independent on-site assessments for a proportion of Areas periodically to ensure that standards are being met and maintained.

Does the area need to meet all the criteria to be certified as a Wildlife Heritage Area?

The steering committee must meet all criteria. Evidence is provided for indicators under criteria 1,2, 4, and 5. If tourism experiences and visitor attractions involving wildlife exist or are being planned within the Wildlife Heritage Area, they must also meet Criterion 3.

Does each Wildlife Heritage Area have its own website and an email address?

No. Aspiring, Candidate, and Designated Wildlife Heritage Areas are given a listing page on the Wildlife Heritage Areas website. This page provides engaging content, videos, and images to generate interest in your Wildlife Heritage Area from travel businesses and the travelling public. In addition, Areas are often featured by partnered wildlife NGOs. It is therefore not essential to have your own website. 


What happens after the Wildlife Heritage Area is designated? Is there an annual assessment?

Yes. Each Wildlife Heritage Area completes a short form annual assessment with information about progress related to the management plan.

Who can use the logo?

Logos are licensed to the Wildlife Heritage Area steering committee. The steering committee can sublicense the use of the logo to other stakeholders within the Wildlife Heritage Area as agreed internally.