Through its Conservation Program, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust invests in the protection and stewardship of some of the world’s most spectacular and threatened places, characterized by high rates of species biodiversity and endemism. The Trust’s place-based, comprehensive conservation approach is predicated on the alignment of environmental protection goals with sustainable human development: The Conservation Program views each geographic focal area as a holistic system in which interdependent variables – terrestrial and marine targets; climatic and oceanic dynamics; and the economic and political forces that influence human behavior – must be addressed inclusively to maximize results. Wherever possible, the Trust leverages investment and leadership of actors in the public and private sectors, and seeks long-term financing mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of efforts and impact. For more information, click here.

Galápagos, Ecuador

Located 600 miles west of the Ecuadorian mainland, Galápagos’ iconic wildlife – much of it found nowhere else on Earth – has helped define our understanding of science. A natural laboratory for the study of species evolution in isolation and a globally prized ecological treasure, Galápagos’ sensitive habitats, animals, and plants face increasing threat driven by the rapidly growing residential and touristic human footprint. The Trust’s Galápagos strategy includes (but is not limited to):

  • Technical assistance to strengthen the national park service responsible for managing the islands and marine reserve;
  • Support for environmentally responsible tourism management policies, and help for businesses transitioning to eco-friendly tourism models;
  • Assistance to municipalities in the design and implementation of land use and waste management policies that minimize pressure on the environment;
  • Work to consolidate and fortify barriers against the introduction and spread of harmful alien species that compete with native plants and animals;
  • Support for sound zoning, regulation, and law enforcement within the Galápagos Marine Reserve to effectively manage fisheries, expand no-take zones, and protect threatened species; and
  • Capacity-building, outreach, education, and communications to promote civic engagement and environmental responsibility among residents.


Baja California Sur, Mexico

The Trust focuses on two sites in this region, Cabo Pulmo and Magdalena Bay. Renowned as the most successful marine protected area in the world, Cabo Pulmo stands as an exemplar of effective community-led conservation and natural resource management. Home to the area’s northernmost hard coral reef and teeming marine biodiversity that has benefited from long-time local fisheries closures, Cabo Pulmo is under increasing threat from proposed inappropriate coastal development. Meanwhile, Magdalena Bay’s globally important fisheries are in decline due to widespread overfishing and harmful fishing techniques that result in bycatch of threatened species. The Baja strategy includes:

  • Legal, scientific, communications, and community organizing support for environmentally sound coastal development;
  • Technical expertise to support the expansion and sound stewardship of protected areas;
  • Work to expand no-take zones, and build grassroots capacity for monitoring and enforcement;
  • Assistance to fishers to support adoption of environmentally sound fishing gear, and expand market pipelines for sustainably sourced fish; and
  • Capacity-building support for community-based conservation organizations.



Commonly known as the eighth continent due to its unparalleled levels of biodiversity and endemism, Madagascar’s environment is under accelerating threat due to widespread poverty, a rapidly growing population, unsustainable use of natural resources and weak governance. In this context, successful conservation efforts must engage local communities in natural resources management, and diversify economic livelihoods to reduce pressure on natural resources and support human well-being. The Madagascar strategy includes:

  • Support for local communities and nonprofit organizations in transitioning important land and seascapes to permanent protection, and/or long-term, sustainable natural resource management;
  • The expansion of productive, environmentally sound livelihoods like ecotourism, sustainable agriculture, and sound fisheries management;
  • Capacity-building support for communities and civil society organizations to improve governance and advocacy for sound environmental policy;
  • Technical assistance and research support for local, regional, and national authorities in the monitoring and management of natural resources; and
  • Outreach, education, and communications to promote environmental consciousness and sustainable behaviors.