Twenty-three years ago today, CI was founded by a group of dedicated conservationists who believed that true sustainability of the Earth’s resources depended on a combination of rigorous science, local knowledge and the informed and engaged participation of people all over the world.
For its first major project, CI set out to protect 728,000 hectares (1.8 million acres) in and around La Amistad International Park on the border between Costa Rica and Panama. Partially funded by McDonald’s, this initiative emphasized local community participation in economic growth, seeking not only the conservation of biodiversity, but also the protection of the watersheds essential for Costa Rica’s hydroelectric development and other benefits to human well-being.
Today, CI has grown to include over 30 country field offices with over one thousand government, business and nonprofit partners worldwide. In the last five years alone, we have engaged countless communities in conservation efforts, discovered more than 400 species and helped increase global protected area coverage by 63.6 million hectares (nearly 250,000 square miles – an area the size of Texas).
As we reflect on how far we’ve come, CI is focused on the future. We will continue to work for the protection of the natural ecosystems which form the building blocks of all life on Earth so that humanity and all life can continue to thrive.