Thirty years ago, corporate conservation was almost non-existent. The lands surrounding corporate structures were afterthoughts. Nature wasn’t something to be enjoyed at work, or to be shared with the surrounding community.
But a group of corporate executives from Anheuser Busch, BP, DuPont, Exxon and U.S. Steel — who also happened to be hunters, fisherman and outdoor enthusiasts — saw an opportunity. Why not use these forgotten parcels to develop and maintain wildlife habitat? Habitat that not only benefits the animals living on the sites, but also offers enjoyment and engagement for employees.
These executives also understood the importance of recognition and measurement for the voluntary work they were going to be doing. It had to come from a third-party, stand-alone entity — not a company or trade association. That idea of recognition became what is now known as WHC Conservation Certification, borne from the newly created non-profit organization, the Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Council, now the Wildlife Habitat Council.
Those first conservation projects reflected the time, with several avian and mammal projects consisting of food and water sources, and nest boxes. During those early years, WHC corporate conservation programs expanded to include not just employees, but also local communities, schools and partners. Later, programs became more integrated with projects linking together and incorporating both education and conservation. Program focus has expanded to include more habitats, broader conservation goals, and an increased focus on native species.
Conservation programs are now not only catalysts for beneficial and valuable habitat for wildlife and people, but they also support corporate sustainability goals and biodiversity metrics – vital key performance indicators for businesses.
Even more so than it was 30 years ago, the need for business and industry to take the lead in conservation is critical, and WHC remains committed to our mission to recognize and empower wildlife habitat programs to create positive outcomes for the environment.