By Rose Wall
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the holiday gifts we purchased were not only meaningful to the people that receive them but were gifts for wildlife and wild places as well? Many of the most sensitive wildlife habitats in the world are in the backyards of some of the most impoverished peoples. Developing economic incentives for protecting wild places helps to ensure long-lasting conservation. Simply put, what you aim to protect has to be worth more alive than dead.
Snow Leopard Trust is a trailblazer and award-winning non-profit organization using this “conservation commerce” model. Today there are fewer than 5,000 snow leopards in the wild. Many of the families that share habitat with these endangered cats are herders that live on less than $2 a day. Occasionally, a snow leopard kills one of the herders, resulting in significant economic loss. Retaliatory killings and poaching are common. Snow Leopard Trust works with herder women in these communities to produce woolen handicrafts, boosting their family income by up to 40 percent. In return, the community pledges to keep snow leopards safe from harm. Snow Leopard Trust’s impact is wide-ranging and includes 400 women in 40 communities across four countries.
Check out this list of holiday gifts that are guaranteed to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy inside!
Snow Leopard Trust
Sales of felted wool rugs and hot pads, hand-knitted hats and gloves, hand-embroidered napkins, as well as cat toys and ornaments, fund research and community conservation programs where snow leopards live. SnowLeopard.org
Ten Thousand Villages
Show your love for elephants and commitment to protecting them with the purchase of Conscious Socks for Elephants, available at Ten Thousand Villages. Each pair of these elephant-patterned socks protects elephants by empowering the wildlife rangers that care for them through the work of Conservation International. TenThousandVillages.com
Snares to Wares
Ugandan artisans repurpose wildlife poachers’ wire snares into beautiful sculptures. SnarestoWares.org
Birds and Beans Coffee
The organization helps to support more than 2,250 bird-friendly family farms in Latin America that share winter refuge habitat with migratory birds. BirdsandBeansCoffee.com
International Crane Foundation
The foundation works worldwide to conserve all 15 species of cranes and ecosystems where they occur through sales of jewelry, clothing, books, prints and more. SavingCranes.org
A purchase of one bracelet made from recycled materials funds the removal of one pound of trash from the ocean. In fewer than three years, 4ocean has removed more than seven million pounds of trash. 4ocean.com
Ten percent of sales of select hand-blown glass votives (“home,” “silver lining,” and “lucky penny”) and drinking glasses is donated to Conservation International to provide homes for orphaned elephants affected by poaching. GlassyBaby.com
Regional Gifts That Support Pollinators
Bee City USA–Asheville is the inaugural Bee City USA, working to educate community members and create sustainable habitat for pollinators. Donate $5 to Bee City USA–Asheville and receive a beautiful bee window cling. (Available at The Asheville Bee Charmer, Nest Organics, Bloomin’ Art, Reems Creek Nursery, and Honey and Hive.) BeeCityUSA.org
The Good of the Hive
Prints, organic cotton t-shirts, hats, and stickers. Asheville-based artist Matthew Willey has committed to painting 50,000 honeybees—the number for a healthy hive—in murals around the world. You can also donate to Bring the Hive Alive to fund one of these murals at the Hands On! Children’s Museum in Hendersonville. TheGoodoftheHive.com; HandsOnWNC.org
Want to help wildlife a bit closer to home? Consider a gift of a bird or bat house, a packet of milkweed seeds or a direct gift to conservation organizations and wildlife non-profits for the nature lover in your life. Gifting with a heart for conserving wildlife is a gift to us all.
Rose Wall is the education director and senior naturalist at Balsam Mountain Trust, a partner of Appalachian Wild, a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to provide care for injured and orphaned native wild life and support WNC’s wildlife rehabilitation network. To learn more, visit AppalachianWild.org.