Interview: Mike Korchinsky, Founder and CEO of Wildlife Works
BY Selva Ozelli · 06·26·23 · LAST UPDATED: 09·12·23
1. Tell us about Wildlife Works and the vision that gave rise to the company's establishment
Wildlife Works is a community-centered conservation company that creates and implements market-based solutions for wildlife conservation that drive sustainable development for local communities.
Wildlife Works was founded in 1997 on the principle that if we want wildlife in our world, it must work for the local communities who share their land and resources with wildlife.
We believe that all species have the intrinsic right to exist, and Wildlife Works was founded to protect this right, especially in the face of the climate crisis.
2. Tell us about the Wildlife Works Eco Factory project?
Our eco-factory in the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project in Kenya was founded in 2001.
Located adjacent to a wildlife sanctuary, the factory helps to sustain 70+ local jobs with living wages and full health benefits. The majority of its employees are women.
Women and girls living in our project area face a lot of challenges that are linked to gender inequality and cultural barriers. The eco-factory has helped create new economic opportunities for women in the community, helping them support their families, plan for their children’s future, and manage their own finances without engaging in poaching or slash-and-burn agriculture.
The factory has produced sustainable collections for international brands including Raven & Lily, Asos, Puma, and Threads for Thought.
3. Tell us about the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project?
The Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project serves as a critical wildlife corridor between the two halves of Kenya’s largest national park: Tsavo East and Tsavo West.
The foundation of the Kasigau project is to alleviate ecosystem pressures through sustainable job creation.
Wildlife Works partners with local communities to co-create long-term jobs to replace unsustainable sources of income such as poaching, subsistence farming, and illegal tree harvesting for charcoal production. This includes jobs that protect wildlife, create eco-friendly products, support education, manage the project, co-develop conservation agriculture techniques with farmers, and grow trees.
Since its conception, the project has funded the renovation and construction of over 50 schools, created 400+ local jobs – 1/3 of which are women, and contributed to the resurgence of an incredibly diverse population of wildlife including more than 300 species of birds, 20 species of bats, and over 50 species of large mammals including critical populations of IUCN Red List species such as the Grevy's Zebra and African Wild Dog.
4. Tell us about the Mai Ndombe REDD+ project?
The forest in western DRC is home to incredible biodiversity and includes some of the most important carbon-rich wetlands in the world.
Unfortunately, there’s been a history of destructive logging practices in the area, and logging companies have ignored the rights and health of 50K+ community members, bringing no economic benefit and threatening wildlife populations.
Today, under agreements with the DRC government, Wildlife Works is working with the local community to channel finance into solutions for wildlife conservation while driving sustainable development through improved food security, access to healthcare and education, increased water infrastructure, and more all while maintaining the local community’s tradition of living in harmony with nature.
To date, the project has partnered with over 100k community members to protect over 200K hectares of forest and endangered species such as bonobos and forest elephants.
5. Tell us about Wildlife Works partnerships:
We have a holistic approach to conservation that integrates a multiplicity of actors. We partner closely with local communities, governments at the local and national level, as well as private sector organizations in order to implement our projects.
Communities are at the heart of our projects and lead when it comes to determining how carbon revenue is utilized. Before undertaking a project, we conduct in-depth information-sharing sessions, in a culturally appropriate process, to ensure communities know about their rights, development options, and how REDD+ works. We take our time to understand a community’s resource use and their social and economic aspirations before embarking on a project.
6. How can people reach your company and get involved?
For the latest updates on Wildlife Works, you can sign up for our newsletter HERE.
The best way to support us is to buy our credits which channel top-line revenue directly into local communities, building and reinforcing forest conservation-based economies.
You can reach us via our website if you have any other questions.
Selva Ozelli Esq, CPA is a legal and finance executive with diversified experience dealing with highly complex issues in the field of international taxation and related matters within the banking, securities, Fintech, alternative and traditional investment funds. Her first of its kind legal analyses involving tax laws, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), blockchain technology, solar technology and the environment and have been published in journals, books and by the OECD. Her writings have been translated into 15 languages.