ZSL EDGE of Existence
Since 2007 EDGE has provided small grants, training and technical advice to 17 future conservation leaders (“EDGE Fellows”) in 14 countries. Each Fellow has undertaken a two-year applied research or conservation project on a locally occurring poorly-known EDGE species, whilst developing his/her own conservation skill-set. All 17 EDGE Fellows supported to date have made a significant, tangible contribution to the conservation of their focal species (e.g. providing robust data to underpin conservation decisions or spearheading the development of national conservation strategies), and almost all have gone on to pursue careers in conservation.
Feedback from previous cohorts indicated that Fellows would benefit from increased training in conservation tools and techniques, particularly at the start of their Fellowships. From 2011, Fellows therefore began to receive intensive training at a 4-week Conservation Tools training course at the start of the Fellowships (piloted in Chitwan National Park, Nepal in 2011), and a two-week Conservation Leadership course at ZSL towards the end of their Fellowships (September 2013). Fellows will also undertake distance-learning modules on relevant topics and receive ongoing support from a mentor at ZSL throughout their Fellowships. Each Fellow receives £10,000 seed funding over two years from ZSL to complete their projects, and where necessary, will be supported to obtain additional funding from other sources. On successful completion of their Fellowships, Fellows will not only have made a tangible difference to their target species, but will also be equipped with the skills, knowledge and networks essential for becoming a future conservation leader. This project is the first step towards creating a mutually-supportive network of well-trained conservation professionals throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. It will leave a conservation legacy, the effects of which will reach far beyond the scale of the original investment.