David Shepherd Art of Survival Award WINNER 2021

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Creative Conservation

Martin Aveling

Tags WAPI

Wild Philanthropy is a public non-profit, designed to provide multiple ways to invest in the future of Africa, its people, wildlife and wilderness. A little over a year ago I pitched them an idea to collaborate on a new art collection, investment in which would help to restore nature and support the most vulnerable people living alongside it. They were the perfect partner, and to my delight they loved the idea. Before long, 'Wild Art Philanthropy IRL' (WAPI) was born.

For this partnership I have created a themed collection of original pastel pencil drawings with the aim of creating value in real life (IRL). This is not an NFT project, but it borrows from the crypto art model of community, utility and exclusivity. The collection keeps yielding bespoke art for the community at no extra cost beyond their initial investment, whilst enabling investors to have immediate and sustained impact on both nature and the communities who live alongside it.

My mother has long said that conservation is about people. After-all, the future of the planet is in our hands. Some the most biodiverse places on earth have human neighbours living in abject poverty. For them to be custodians of nature, they must feel the benefits of its restoration and protection. Our first project in Kenya is a collaboration with House in the Wild and 'The Women Tree Planters of the Mara'. We are planting a forest on Enonkishu Conservancy, that will serve as a refuge for wildlife and provide financial, cultural and education opportunities for the people living nearby.

An image of two photos of the same landscape, one taken in 2013 and the other in 2021. The comparison shows how an area of land previously farmland has been restored back to a natural wilderness.
The above comparison image from Enonkishu Conservancy was what inspired me to conceive WAPI. The owners of House in The Wild, Lippa and Tarquin Wood, have spent years building relationships with the local Maasai people, working together to restore land back to a natural state in a way that also benefits the community. Lippa and Tarquin have sustainability at their very core, and it is a pleasure to be working with them to build on their inspiring work. I will be releasing more news about the project and art collection in the coming weeks. Stay tuned! 

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