Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network

Wildlife Friendly™ Tourism

The Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network has defined a new category of tourism that directly supports on-the-ground conservation of wildlife, while providing increased opportunities to associated communities.

Wildlife Friendly™ Tourism is defined as “Tourism that maximizes opportunities for travelers, communities, and businesses not only to engage as partners but also to advance the on-the-ground conservation of Key Species* while minimizing negative impacts on wildlife.”

Wildlife Friendly™ Tourism uses cutting edge, expert-driven best practices to define guidelines for tourism and related impacts on threatened, endangered, or otherwise important species of wildlife. Enterprises that may be certified under this program include tour operators, lodges, resorts, and hotels.

The Certified Wildlife Friendly™ Tourism standards were developed with input from members of the IUCN Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS) Biodiversity Working Group and other conservation tourism leaders around the world to ensure that travel enterprises within this category meet the intended goals: To inform and empower consumers, communities, companies, and organizations to be catalysts for change for the benefit of livelihoods, wildlife, and ecosystems.

Application Process

The Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network (WFEN) is a global community dedicated to the development and marketing of products that conserve threatened wildlife while contributing to the economic vitality of rural communities. This application overview describes the process to qualify for Wildlife Friendly™ Tourism Certification.

The application process consists of the following components: A) Pre-Assessment + Reference + Payment of Application Fee, and B) Full Application.

Please review the Certification FAQs page and learn how WFEN defines Key Species before beginning your application.

A. Pre-Assessment + Reference + Application Fee

First, an applicant must submit the Wildlife Friendly™ Tourism Pre-Assessment Form and Reference Form. The Pre-Assessment Form provides background about tourism enterprises, their offerings, and wildlife conservation conditions in their area to understand if they may meet the WFEN Mission and Tourism Certification Criteria. The Pre-Assessment Form can be dowloaded here.

The Reference Form must be completed by someone at a conservation organization (NGO, university, government agency) who is familiar with the program and its conservation context, especially negative impact mitigation, maximum conservation benefit facilitation, and monitoring. The Reference Form can be dowloaded here.

The Pre-Assessment stage enables WFEN to provide guidance to new enterprises with wildlife friendly tourism offerings. If the WFEN Certification Committee determines that a tourism enterprise does not meet the WFEN Mission or Wildlife Friendly Tourism™ criteria, an applicant can act to address concerns identified by the Committee and may resubmit the Pre-Assessment Form at any time.

A non-refundable fee of $250 must accompany the Pre-Assessment and Reference Form. The Application Fee may be submitted here; please note the date that payment was submitted in your application e-mail.

Please send completed Pre-Assessment and Reference Forms to: christine@wildlifefriendly.org with the subject “WFEN Tourism Application” in the subject line.

B. Full Application

Once the Pre-Assessment + Reference Form + Application Fee have been submitted, the WFEN Certification Committee will review these documents. Applicants that are deemed to meet our criteria will be invited by WFEN to submit a Full Application.

The Full Application requires additional details a) to determine the product’s ability to satisfy the WFEN Tourism Certification Criteria and b) to gauge the market-readiness of the tourism product.

During the Full Application process, WFEN will work with applicants to determine their annual certification renewal fee amount. Annual fees are based on the WFEN Sliding Scale available here.

Certified enterprises are also required to submit mandatory biennial reporting.

Approval Process

The Certification Committee reviews each Full Application and makes recommendations to the WFEN Board for acceptance of suitable enterprises. Either the Certification Committee or the WFEN Board may request additional information in order to make a determination.

Applicants will be notified of approval or rejection in a timely fashion. Applications are reviewed in the order that they were received. Currently the WFEN Certification Committee is meeting on a quarterly basis. Decisions may take three to nine months. Rejected applicants may reapply.

All certified enterprises are evaluated annually and are required to demonstrate continued ability to meet WFEN requirements. Annual renewal fees must be paid to maintain active certification status.

Appeal Process

If an applicant believes a product has been rejected unfairly, he or she can submit an appeal to the WFEN Board within one month of notice of rejection. Applicants whose appeals are rejected may elect to reapply after one year.

Species-focused Approaches  

As part of this work, WFEN is also pioneering a species-focused expert driven approach based on the best available science to address key threats to threatened, rare, and endangered species. Modeled on the approach and work carried out to develop the Gorilla Friendly™ program, in close partnership with the International Gorilla Conservation Programme, a coalition program of Fauna & Flora International (FFI), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and Conservation International (CI), WFEN is now replicating and piloting this model for sea turtles and other species. You can learn more on the Gorilla Friendly™ and Sea Turtle Friendly™ sections of our website.