Building Conservation Capacity

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places. We do that through the use of cutting-edge conservation science, management, community governance, and policy. As part of this effort, we commit to helping conserve landscapes and their wildlife on the ground and over the long term.

A critical part of that long-term commitment is ensuring that the best and the brightest young conservationists are supported and nurtured to take on the role of conservation leaders in their respective countries.

For nearly a century, WCS has been supporting the development of inspired and committed young conservationists around the world. We do this through a series of graduate scholarships, small grants, and mentoring opportunities that enable them to learn and apply field-tested conservation science to help solve the greatest challenges facing wildlife and wild places. Through this support, these brilliant young conservationists can become the next generation of global conservation leaders.

Our Goal

Our goal is to ensure that wherever there is a need, the conservation of wildlife and wild places will be led by a network of skilled conservation leaders who are able to implement conservation on the ground, build effective conservation institutions, and create and support conservation constituencies within their wider society.

How will we get there?

WCS provides a suite of training and capacity building initiatives.


The WCS Graduate Scholarship Program (GSP) is part of a WCS strategy to invest in developing individual conservation leaders around the world. The GSP provides access to international graduate education opportunities (masters or doctoral programs) to exceptional conservationists from Asia/Pacific, Africa, Latin America, and North American indigenous groups. Scholars are nominated by WCS global conservation staff and are selected based on their exceptional abilities and potential to become leaders of the conservation movement in their home countries.

See our 2019 WCS Graduate Scholarship recipients.


The WCS Research Fellowship Program (RFP) is one of the oldest and most prestigious small grants programs in the field of wildlife conservation. Grants are designed to build capacity for the next generation of global conservation leaders from Asia/Pacific, Africa, Latin America, and North American indigenous groups by supporting individual field research projects that have a clear application to the conservation of threatened wildlife and wild places. The grants awarded under the RFP result in young conservationists building their own individual capacity to become leading conservationists in their home countries.


The Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) is a globally renowned capacity building partnership that is building the next generation of conservation leaders in developing countries. CLP partners include WCS, BirdLife International, and Fauna & Flora International. We work collaboratively to identify and engage exceptional young conservationists, invest in their professional development through grants, internships, training and mentoring, and help them to multiply their impact across the conservation sector. CLP grants are awarded annually to teams of early career individuals to carry out projects on threatened species. A series of training, networking, and mentoring is offered to our alumni network as a means to further develop leadership capabilities.

See our latest CLP award-winning projects.

WCS Local Conservation Partners Fund

Around the world, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) collaborates with hundreds of local partners to achieve a shared vision for a more secure and resilient future for people, wildlife, and wild places. We recognize the importance of empowering these partners to enable grassroots natural resource governance to flourish, conserving biodiversity while building lasting and durable constituencies for conservation. These organizations require dedicated investment to ensure they are more resilient to the overwhelming effects of global and regional crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to a multi-year commitment from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, WCS has established a new WCS Local Conservation Partners Fund, which will provide direct financial and capacity development support to partner organizations who operate in and around Nature’s Strongholds where WCS works. We will provide this support through direct grants and relevant training, including technical support and community-building activities that will improve partner capacity and resilience. WCS is working collaboratively with Fauna & Flora International (FFI) to deliver key areas of work in this fund. Contact with any questions.

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Why WCS?

89 from 32

The WCS Graduate Scholarship Program is a world leader in providing support for young conservation professionals. Established in 1996, the program has already made advanced study possible for a total of 89 graduate students from 32 countries at top-flight academic institutions that include Yale University, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Florida, and Oxford University.

350+ projects

From 1993 to 2012, the WCS Research Fellowship Program funded over 350 projects resulting in important conservation around the world. Focal topics covered by RFP grants include: rare and endangered species studies, threatened community and ecosystem studies, species reintroduction and habitat restoration, human impacts such as logging and agriculture, and social dimensions of conservation and livelihoods.

2600+ alumni

Since the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) was founded in 1985, the program has invested in the professional development of over 2,600 individuals through over 700 projects in more than 100 countries. With CLP support, our alumni are discovering new species, designating protected areas, starting their own non-government organizations, and creating mechanisms for long-term sustainable conservation.

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