Efforts to protect sea turtles, coral reefs and scrubs-jays in Florida have caught the attention of the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, which recently announced that 10 Florida-based projects were among the list of 2010 recipients of nearly $1.5 million in grants to protect vulnerable wildlife and ecosystems around the globe.
The funding enables nonprofit organizations throughout Florida and the world to continue research and provide support for more than 45 species including the endangered sea turtles located in the Atlantic waters.
As part of Disney’s longstanding commitment to the environment, the work supported through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is more important today than ever in helping preserve our planet’s most precious resources,” said Dr. Beth Stevens, senior vice president, Environmental Affairs, The Walt Disney Company. “We are proud to support these organizations that are truly making a difference around the world to aid in the protection of wildlife and the natural environments they depend on to flourish.”
As of 2009, Florida-based projects have received more than $3 million in DWCF grants, including grants of more than $900,000 to University of Florida and $110,000 to University of Central Florida.
Some of the highlights from this year’s Florida-based recipients include:
- The Coral Restoration Foundation’s Coral Restoration Program focuses on expanding coral reef nurseries in the Florida Keys in order to restore degraded Elkhorn and Staghorn coral reefs. The program also uses their research to develop materials and methods to replicate the work across the globe. This is the program’s third year receiving DWCF grants.
- Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Archie Carr Wildlife Refuge Education Program engages residents and visitors in protecting sea turtles by supporting a long-term education program that is part of the most important nesting site for the threatened and endangered sea turtles in the United States. The DWCF has been funding the program since 2008.
- The Nature Conservancy’s Jay Watch: A Citizen Science Program to Collect Scrub-Jay Data Mapping the population of Florida only endemic bird, the scrub-jay, and working with volunteers across the state to inventory and map the bird’s habitat. The funding will assist in recruiting additional volunteers and advocates to protect scrub-jay habitat and reach out to educate others to become involved. This is the ninth year of funding from the DWCF program.
Other Florida-based recipients include:
- Audubon of Florida’s Audubon EagleWatch
- Audubon of Florida’ s Florida Bay Aquatic Habitat Analysis and Virtual Eco‐Lab
- Marine Resources Council of East Florida’s Northern Right Whale Monitoring Program
- Mote Marine Laboratory’s Exploring Effects of Longline Fishing on Loggerhead Sea Turtles
- Operation Migration’s Whooping Crane Reintroduction Team Support
- Chicago Zoological Society’s Reducing Human Impacts on Dolphins
- University of Florida’s Matanzas River Basin Biodiversity and Habitat Conservation Project
Over the past decade, the DWCF—through support from The Walt Disney Company and Disney Guests—has provided more than $15 million in grants for the study of wildlife, protection of habitats, land management plans, community conservation and education. Along with a focus on support for species and habitat conservation science, the DWCF encourages programs that engage local residents and benefit both human and animal communities.
The DWCF has also awarded more than $575,000 in Rapid Response funds to assist with more than 120 environmental and animal emergencies since 1998. In the past year, the DWCF has provided more than $125,000 to support efforts worldwide including veterinary care and vaccinations for animals in the wake of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti and rehabilitation efforts for the thousands of sea turtles affected by the winter cold snap in Florida. In 2009 additional support was provided through Disney’s Friends for Change: Project Green in which 100 percent of iTunes proceeds of the inspiring program anthem “Send it On” were directed to environmental charities through the DWCF.