Frequently Asked Questions
ICFC: Why and Where?Q: Why do we need ICFC when there are many existing conservation organizations?
A: ICFC allows Canadians to support nature conservation worldwide. Before ICFC there was no broad scale international conservation organization in Canada, hence no easy way for Canadians to make tax deductible donations for conservation outside Canada, with some limited exceptions (see the footnote in our About Us page). We do have good conservation NGOs in Canada, such as WWF-Canada, WCS Canada the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and local land trusts, but their programs are almost entirely carried out within Canada.
Q: Why should Canadians support
international conservation? Shouldn't we be supporting conservation at home in
A: We should be doing both. Here is why we should support conservation internationally as well as at home:
- Canadians benefit directly and indirectly from natural ecosystems worldwide, for example in climate regulation. Please see our Conservation Fast Facts regarding the economic benefits of conservation and the particular importance of tropical ecosystems.
- Canadian migratory birds are being affected by habitat loss in their tropical wintering areas.
- Canada is an affluent country that generates its wealth as an integrated part of the world economy, and we can easily supplement the limited resources developing nations have to achieve highly desirable conservation goals.
- Most of the loss of biodiversity and conversion of natural ecosystems is happening in tropical countries. Often those natural ecosystems have far greater value left intact than when converted for agriculture or other purposes. (We can and should achieve greater agricultural productivity on less land and higher fisheries productivity from better managed marine ecosystems.)
- The shortfall in spending on conservation is far greater in developing countries, many of which are in the tropics where biodiversity is heavily concentrated, than in developed countries.
- The world's natural heritage belongs to everyone. The world has a stake in our polar bears and boreal forest and we have a stake in penguins and forests of the Amazon and Congo Basin.
- Many species are threatened with extinction due to human activities, especially in the tropics. We believe there is a moral imperative to work to avoid human-caused extinctions.
Q: Where do you work?
A: Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa. Our priorities are areas of high biodiversity and/or extensive wilderness and where opportunities exist for achieving long-term conservation gains. Such priorities abound in the tropics but also occur elsewhere.
ICFC expenditures and modus operandiQ: What are your expenditures on programs, versus administration and fundraising?
A: Management and administration expenditures composed 5% of expenses in 2012, and fundraising 1%. These figures are low in part because ICFC's two managing directors work full-time as volunteers. The balance (94%) was spent on programs.
Q: Why is the ICFC
staff so small?
A: ICFC works with local field partners who carry out the work based on work plans and budgets that we develop together. ICFC oversees the project, manages finances, reviews results and makes adjustments to work plans as needed. We also make site visits and communicate regularly with our field partners. By not maintaining our own staff to carry out field activities, ICFC is able to stay lean and flexible, picking and choosing the best current conservation opportunities and taking advantage of the experience, track record, local expertise and relatively low salaries of local partners.
ProgramsQ: How do you decide what projects to support?
A: After applying our selection criteria, we assess which opportunities seem to offer the best value for money, in terms of lasting conservation gains, as well as assessing feasibility and risk. Another consideration is the degree and urgency of threats. We hear of good project opportunties from an informal network of advisors/friends who are highly experienced in nature conservation. We also review unsolicited project proposals.
Q: What kind of projects do you do?
A: Please see our selection criteria for the work we undertake. We engage in direct conservation action rather than research or what are called "integrated conservation and development projects". Projects variously involve:
- protecting nature reserves, which typically involves hiring staff from local communities;
- acquiring land for conservation;
- increasing the capacity of indigenous people to protect their lands and their traditional way of life from increasing threats;
- protecting critical habitat by (1) supporting the development of local laws and agreements and (2) involving communities in protection and management;
- educating local communities about the needs of their local wildlife, particularly threatened species of plants and animals, where that has a clear conservation benefit.
Q: What kind of oversight of projects do you
A: We work closely with local partners who carry out the field activities of a project. We are involved in project planning, monitoring implementation, adjusting plans as needed, maintaining financial records and ensuring there is proper documentation of project activities and outcomes. We also make site visits as warranted.
Q: What kind of followup of projects do you
A: Many of our programs involve long-term efforts and hence are monitored on an ongoing basis. Short-term projects will be followed up informally through various means including site visits, communications with project partners, and independent evaluations.
Donations to ICFCQ: Is my donation tax-deductible in Canada?
Q: Is my donation tax-deductible in
the United States?
A: Americans wishing to support our work with $1000 or more may donate through Tides Foundation and receive a U.S. 501(c)(3) official donation receipt that can be used for income tax purposes. Related forms: About donating through Tides, Letter for Americans donating by check, Letter for Americans donating shares
Q: I'm making a donation on someone else's
behalf in lieu of a gift. Can you send the receipt to that person?
A: No, the Income Tax Act does not allow that. We must issue the receipt to the person making the donation. But we will send a letter of thanks to the "giftee" (typically, along with our most recent annual report).
barrage of mail from you?)
A: ICFC will not sell, trade or give your information to any third party. We keep mailings to a minimum. We typically send (often combined): your donation receipt; the Annual Report for the year in which a donation was received; and a once-yearly invitation to make further donations to ICFC. There may also be the occasional special communication regarding a specific program that you support.
Tough questionsQ: Does conservation in developing countries come at the expense of poor people?
A: Nature conservation actually aligns well with the interests of the world's poor. About 1.1 billion people depend on protected areas for their livelihoods (source). And natural ecosystems are essential for maintaining the Earth's life support systems (see the next question/answer), including agriculture and fisheries, on which many rural people depend for their livelihoods.
There have been instances in which long standing human communities have been expelled from protected areas. ICFC is generally opposed to such action. But protected areas provide many benefits to rural communities. These include: access to non-timber forest products (such as Brazil nuts, fruits, fuelwood, and medicinal plants); maintenance of local water regimes and climate; provision of habitat for crop/horticultural pollinators; ecotourism; and payments for ecosystem services. ICFC is particularly keen on involving local communities in what famed biologist Dan Janzen calls "biodiversity management" (protection, monitoring, restoration, scientific research, nature interpretation, etc.).
Conservation is not only about protected areas. It also involves helping rural communities adapt to living in harmony with nature. A few examples: bird-friendly shade-grown coffee cultivation; planting of trees to prevent erosion and improve water regimes; minimizing conflicts with elephants or other wildlife; and deploying solar or high-efficiency stoves to preserve woody vegetation. There are many such actions that help both poor rural people and nature.
Q: If we conserve more natural ecosystems, how
will we feed the world's growing population?
A: First, we can and must produce more food on less land, and we can produce much more fish biomass from better managed fisheries. Second, natural ecosystems are essential to maintaining productivity of existing farmland, pasturelands, and marine ecosystems. Coral reefs, mangroves and other marine ecosystems provide essential habitat for commercially important fish species. Terrestrial ecosystems prevent soil erosion, improve water quality and maintain ground and surface water regimes. They also provide habitat for insects, bats and birds that pollinate crops, vegetables and fruit and nut trees. Forests put massive amounts of water into the atmosphere through transpiration, which results in rainfall over a much broader area (the U.S. Midwest, for example, is dependent in part on the Amazon for its rainfall). In sequestering carbon and regulating climate, forests are a bulwark against climate change.
One way or another, the human population will level off this century and humans will of necessity move to sustainable use of natural resources. How much nature will be left after that transition depends on how much of nature we protect now. We must draw the line somewhere. Let's draw it such that both nature and humankind have a better future.
IS YOUR QUESTION NOT ON THIS LIST? and let us know.
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