The Rufford Foundation is a UK registered charity which funds nature conservation projects across the developing world.
The flagship Rufford Small Grants Programme gives funding to individuals working in developing countries who are starting on the ladder of conservation research and establishing pilot programmes. In some cases, if their work progresses well, these individuals may apply for one of the further grants from the Foundation. Since the Rufford Small Grants Programme was set up over 20 years ago, it has given in excess of £30 million through more than 5100 grants to projects in over 150 countries. The programme identifies scientists at the very early stages of their careers and provides targeted support to enable them to achieve their goal of making a difference in terms of conservation. Many recipients have gone on to be key influencers at a national and sometimes global level.
I very much support the work of The Rufford Foundation and especially their Small Grants programme. It has been vital in identifying in-country scientists at the very early stages of their careers and providing targeted support to enable them to achieve their goal of making a difference in terms of conservation. Many recipients have gone on to be key influencers at a national and sometimes global level. Without Rufford’s support, this would not have happened.
Sir David Attenborough, UK
The Rufford Foundation has long been a champion of emerging conservationists, playing a key role in enabling them, and often their fledgling organisations, to thrive and grow into key players and game changers in the conservation space. The Foundation has also always been prepared to take risks where other donors seek a more cautious approach and this has been invaluable in enabling the leading conservationists of the future to make meaningful and enduring strides in their related fields. The breadth and reach of the Rufford Foundation’s support over the years is extraordinary and the conservation landscape would look very different without them.
Mary Rice, Exec. Director, Environmental Investigation Agency
Rufford Small Grants play an invaluable role in the international conservation funding landscape. These grants have launched many young conservationists on their way. By funding conservation in the countries of highest biodiversity, Rufford not only helps to deliver results on the ground, but also provides important opportunities for young conservationists to gain vital experience of managing and running their own projects, and in developing funding proposals. Rufford provides a unique platform for the growth of new initiatives, and this funding has launched both ongoing projects and the careers of individuals who have since taken on professional roles in the conservation community.
Mark Rose, CEO, Fauna & Flora International, UK
I have a particular interest to give you back all support you have given to me and to my team. The RSG Foundation supported my PhD research in 2009-2010, I got my job in 2012 owing to this PhD degree and four graduate students of my lab were funded by the RSG Foundation too. Each cent from the Foundation has been essential to our research and education actions. I appreciate much your support.
Dr Bráulio A. Santos, Federal University of Paraiba, Brazil
I have been very fortunate to receive various Rufford Small Grants for the post-graduate students I supervise in Tanzania and eastern Africa at large. Through this opportunity, my students learned how to write proposals and apply to funding, they often were rewarded by a positive answer by Rufford, and this boosted their self-confidence as young, striving and excellent researchers. Many PhD and MSc projects of my students have been funded this way. All our Rufford-funded projects have resulted in at least one scientific publication in a peer reviewed journal, have been communicated to the local communities via posters, meetings, discussion rounds and school visits through the Rufford scholars. I hope that many more projects will be funded via Rufford Small Grants as this is a wonderful opportunity to conduct hands-on research and conservation projects that also enhance the knowledge of the local eastern African population.
Professor Anna Treydte, NM-AIST, Tanzania
The natural world is under greater threat now than ever before – with all the usual pressures of economic development, habitat loss and population growth now compounded by the coronavirus crisis. Sitting here in the UK, it’s almost impossible to imagine what that feels like for frontline conservationists in many of the world’s most hard-pressed countries. The Rufford Foundation identified this as a burning priority more than twenty years ago, and the sheer scale and impact of its Small Grants Programme since then has been astonishing. In a world where wholly inadequate amounts of funding are committed to the protection of threatened habitats and species, this Programme is a beacon of philanthropic commitment at its very best, sustained over time, empowering countless champions on the ground, and making a real and lasting difference.
Jonathon Porritt, Sustainability Campaigner and Writer, UK
Transforming local conservation concern into meaningful action in the places where it is most needed is often a challenging task. The Rufford Small Grants Programme has built a strong record of helping motivated individuals and groups to make that leap, by responding quickly to good ideas and supporting innovative first steps for critical nature conservation solutions. The trust and encouragement that accompanies this support plays a critical role in boosting conservation practice and impacts around the world.
Steve Broad, Executive Director, TRAFFIC, UK
A remarkable record in identifying talent in conservation/conservation science and providing liftoff to amazing careers.
Professor Thomas E. Lovejoy, George Mason University, USA
The Rufford Foundation represents an invaluable platform for early-career conservationists. Its impact has crossed frontiers, helping to develop conservation actions on critical ecosystems and countries with limited resources. The foundation plays a unique role supporting emerging talented people to materialise conservation action plans. Being a conservationist is a permanent learning process where we face a constantly changing environment that calls for the ability to adapt. The foundation and its several funding stages gives you the chances to improve your actions and to scale up your impact, which is greatly acknowledged. Without the foundation’s role there will be less inspired conservationists and opportunities to improve local actions on a complex and dynamic field.
Luciano Hiriart-Bertrand, Exec. Director, Costa Humboldt, Chile
Rufford was the first and only grant that believed in our small at the time, but long-awaited project. The continuous support of Rufford throughout the last five years, even through a pandemic, enabled us to plant the one and only dedicated scientific research and conservation group that brings together scientific experts, students, early researchers and fishing communities to better understand the species that we want to protect. Without Rufford, our NGO, DMAD, would still be struggling to even take the first steps. For this and many other reasons, we cannot thank Rufford enough for putting their trust in DMAD and giving marine mammal research and conservation in the Eastern Mediterranean a chance.
Dr Aylin Akkaya, Founder of DMAD, Turkey
Throughout my years of carrying out conservation research, I have realized that the available resources for investing in research in developing countries are very limited. The funding thus provided by The Rufford Foundation has had a very positive and significant effect of subsidy on academic performance, especially for young researchers in developing countries. Over the years, we have felt this impact measured in terms of scholarly output among these researchers, and we hope the positive trends for both publications and citations will be sustained with increased funding from Rufford.
Dr Kevin Njabo, University of California Los Angeles, USA
I am deeply grateful to the Rufford Foundation for the financial support of the environment and wildlife conservation. It is a very supportive international organisation especially for students, freelance researchers and local organisations who are interested in doing research regarding biodiversity conservation issues. Besides, Rufford Foundation Grants are very effective in conservation works. As a result, we can protect our biodiversity more effectively.
Dr Sapai Min, Founder of WECAN, Myanmar
The Rufford Foundation is among worldwide organisations trusting early career scientists and supporting their work in Sub-Saharan Africa and especially in Benin. It helps them to improve their ways of doing science, to develop key skills such as science communication, to nurture strong and long-lasting partnerships with existing organizations in the field and develop into independent researchers and conservationists. All these contribute to a better management of the species and associated ecosystems.
Professor Achille Assogbadjo, University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin
I believe the Rufford Small Grants Programme provides a unique opportunity for early career scientists to lead their first small research project. Excellent initiative Rufford!
Dr Pelayo Salinas de Leon, Charles Darwin Foundation, Ecuador
It has been my pleasure to be involved with Rufford since its inception. I’ve lost count of the number of early stage conservationists who I have supported in successful approaches to the Foundation, but happily I remember clearly that every single one of them has benefited greatly, their careers advanced, impacts enhanced, with both conservation and conservationists the winners.
Professor David W. Macdonald, Founder and Director, WildCRU, UK
Rufford's small grants were a BIG help to many, as I have noticed over the years, filling a niche that was plainly empty in conservation biology. Several of my students and associates have benefitted from your generous support, building careers as diverse as conservation biologists, hydroelectric environment managers, and even a restauranteur who supports green causes. Many thanks for what you are doing for young scientists around the world!
Professor Indraniel Das, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Malaysia
The Department of Wildlife and Range Management (DWRM) of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana is extremely proud to be associated with The Rufford Foundation. From 2016 to 2020, Rufford Foundation grants helped train 12 postgraduate students in 16 projects within diverse research disciplines of endangered species management and collaborative resources management. DWRM acknowledges The Rufford Foundation’s immense contribution in enhancing student research and capacity building in national biodiversity conservation and awareness creation. This contribution has helped our early stage conservationists to develop their careers to become respected scientists, playing diverse roles in implementing Ghana’s National Biodiversity Strategy. It is our hope that The Rufford Foundation will continue to play this critical integral role in the training of our students in the future.
Professor Emmanuel Danquah, Head, DWRM, Ghana
Humankind is at the crossroads of making crucial decisions to determine the fate of the planet’s amazing biodiversity and secure the future of human populations that depend on its natural resources. The contribution of all research actors, including those at the grassroots (early career scientists) across the developing world, is pivotal. The Rufford Foundation over the years has detected and promoted talented young conservation leaders who have generated valuable data, undertaken resounding actions and made significant impacts in their communities. Over 5,000 grants awarded is simply AWESOME!
Dr Eric Bertrand Fokam, University of Buea, Cameroon
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to The Rufford Foundation for their long-term support that has enabled me to start and maintain a long-term in-situ conservation strategy in the Colombian- Peruvian Amazon. Rufford represents a key donor, who helps grassroots organisations to wisely grow and develop over years, ensuring the participation of local communities and stakeholders, improving conservation for threatened species and habitats in tropical forests. I feel very proud of being part of the Rufford family and I would like to thank you for your support, friendship and the continuous possibility to attend the Rufford conferences around the world to meet other grantees which allows for a great network and inspiration.
Angela Maldonado, Director, Fundación Entropika, Colombia
Rufford’s support has been catalytic in accelerating the growth of our work supporting community-led marine protection in the Indian Ocean. The Foundation's assistance for some of our most urgent field programmes has provided a launchpad for scaling up our impact. Rufford's pragmatic and supportive approach has helped us weather inevitable challenges of field programming, while fostering learning and exchange with inspirational peers through the Rufford community.
Dr Alasdair Harris, Executive Director, Blue Ventures, UK
Getting the Rufford Small Grant at the start-up phase of my career was extremely useful for me in several ways. One of the principal benefits I have had as a result of my Rufford projects is to have had the resources and support to collect important baseline information from the area in The Himalayas where no one had worked before on my study species. In this context, now I am in a solid position to develop more advanced research in this area, which is crucial for conservation of the entire Himalayan landscape.
Himani Nautiyal, Primate Research Institute, Japan
The Rufford Small Grants Programme has been fundamental to allow conservationists display their potential worldwide. They trusted me and started supporting my work on penguins in 2006, when our project was only a promise. Since then, we have been able to protect 32 million acres of penguin habitat in the ocean and on land.
Dr Pablo Garcia Borboroglu, Global Penguin Society, Argentina
As one of our first supporters, The Rufford Foundation was instrumental in providing seed funding for Cheetah Conservation Botswana to begin our work conserving cheetahs in the Kalahari region of Botswana, the centre of the cheetahs range in Southern Africa and a strategically important region for several threatened carnivores. With ongoing Rufford support we have been able to develop a multi-disciplinary program including scientific research, community support and government engagement. We have worked closely with communities to reduce human carnivore conflict and enable coexistence between people and wildlife in the Western Kalahari.
Rebecca Klein, Exec. Director, Cheetah Conservation, Botswana
I express my deep sense of gratitude to Rufford for their support since 2012 which helped us to take steps to conserve seagrass meadows and dugongs in Palk Bay, India. Rufford funds meant we could continually build on our conservation fieldwork in the past 8 years. Over 5500 students from 137 schools and 3000 fishers from 33 villagers have attended dugong awareness events and OMCAR has received state, national and international recognition for its grassroots marine conservation awareness activities in Palk Bay.
Dr Vedharajan Balaji, Founder, OMCAR Foundation, India
The Rufford Foundation has been exceptional in supporting myself, my many students and others across Africa in undertaking research and conservation projects. Without such invaluable support, these projects would not have succeeded. Many of these students are now pursuing further studies and/or different careers. In the absence of funding from The Rufford Foundation, many conservation projects would have been non-starters and careers stillborn. At a personal level, The Rufford Foundation has enabled me to motivate many students to advance their conservation careers. Additionally, the foundation has immensely contributed to the conservation of bats in Africa. This has incredibly and exponentially raised the profile of the hitherto much maligned, yet important group of mammals in our region.
Dr Paul Webala, Maasai Mara University, Kenya
Rufford’s support for the Niassa Lion Project came at a moment when we desperately needed to grow in both influence and actions. The funds from the then Rufford Innovation Award were significant. They gave us confidence, credibility and a much needed opportunity to grow our lion conservation program to achieve more impact. Today, we support 100 Mozambican conservationists in our team with 12 different conservation grassroots conservation programs to secure the lions in Niassa Special Reserve in partnership with the Mozambican management authority (ANAC). When I look back, I can see several specific moments when leaps of impact happened. The grant from Rufford was one of those moments and we remain very grateful. It has also been wonderful to be part of the Rufford community over all these years, especially as conservation of lions and their landscapes has become increasingly urgent.
Dr Colleen Begg, Director, Niassa Carnivore Project, Mozambique