Seven Years of Growth; CEO Bill Waldman’s Legacy

Island Conservation thanks Bill Waldman for guidance
during a period of unprecedented growth.

The staff and board of Island Conservation are grateful for the leadership and guidance provided by CEO Bill Waldman over the last seven years. He has helped us grow and enabled us to save more imperiled island species faster and with greater impact. He’s leaving the organization in a healthy state, primed for new leadership and another major growth spurt. Here are some of the signs of that legacy.

Bill Waldman is a 37-year professional conservation leader. He served as Island Conservation’s Chief Executive Officer since 2008. Previously, Bill worked for Nature Conservancy, New Mexico as the State Director and Vice-President. After 2007, under Bill Waldman’s leadership, Island Conservation has grown significantly by:

  • Going global – Island Conservation grew from a regional organization working only on islands in Mexico and US to a global organization with established:
    • Regional programs in South America, the Caribbean, and the Southwest Pacific.
    • Staff based in seven countries including headquarters in Santa Cruz, CA with field offices in Australia, British Columbia, Chile, Ecuador, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico.
    • Invasive species removal projects conducted in seven countries, and projects planned in six more countries by 2019.
  • Maximizing Extinctions Prevented – Island Conservation doubled down on its strategic focus by tackling islands that provide the highest conservation ROI (return on investment) by:
    • Developing and maintaining (with partners) the Threatened Island Database; the world’s premier scientific knowledge tool used to identify, analyze, and prioritize islands with threatened species at risk of invasive species.
    • Focusing on islands with the greatest conservation gains for IUCN[1] Red listed threatened species. Deploying invasive species removal teams to twenty-nine islands with twenty confirmed eradication successes and nine awaiting confirmation.
    • Protecting 54 globally threatened and single-island endemic[2] species.
  • Increasing Island Restoration Capacity & Knowledge – Concentrating on doing more projects, better and faster, Island Conservation has grown capacity for the field by:
    • Increasing the organization’s annual budget from $2.1M to $5.5M and staff from 15 to 37 full time employees.
    • Catalyzing the full independence and incorporation of our sister organization in Mexico.
    • Building local and in-country island restoration capacity by training and partnering with dozens of governments and conservation NGOs in seven countries.
    • Convening a consortium of the world’s experts for a Tropical Rodent Eradication Review resulting in best eradication practices published in Biological Conservation.
  • Leveraging International Policies and Funding – Island Conservation established a global affairs program and adopted and implemented a strategic plan which guided growth, including:
    • Securing international policies adopted by the 194 Signatory Parties (countries) to the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that endorse invasive species removals as key strategies to achieve the CBDs biodiversity conservation goals.
    • Securing a $50M commitment from the Global Environment Facility (GEF)[3] to address the negative impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity.
    • Securing millions of dollars conservation funding from multiple governments, bi- and multi-lateral donors for invasive species eradications and control on islands.
island conservation science pinzon giant tortoise hatchling galapagos ecuador americas

More than 150 years ago, rats invaded Pinzón island and began feeding on the eggs and hatchlings of the island-endemic Pinzón Giant Tortoise. Due to invasive rats, tortoises were no longer able to survive past their hatchling phase, if they even hatched at all before being consumed. In 1965, conservationists, determined to save the tortoise, initiated a captive rearing program aimed at getting tortoises past this critical life stage. In 2012, under Bill Waldman’s leadership, Island Conservation and our partners removed invasive rats from the island. In 2013, heralding an important step in Pinzón tortoise recovery, hatchlings emerged from native Pinzón tortoise nests on the island and the Galápagos National Park successfully returned 118 hatchlings to their native island home. Today, the tortoises continue to hatch and thrive in their native habitat.

When Bill isn’t busy helping to save our world’s most imperiled species, he can be found communing with nature, riding his horses, and woodworking; surely these will figure prominently in his pending retirement!

Thanks, Bill!


[1] International Union for the Conservation of Nature
[2] Occurring nowhere else in the world
[3] The multilateral financier for the CBD

About Island Conservation

Island Conservation prevents extinctions by removing invasive species from islands. To date, we have successfully restored 64 islands worldwide, benefiting 1195 populations of 487 species and subspecies. Working together with local communities, government management agencies, and conservation organizations, we select islands that have the greatest potential for preventing the extinction of globally threatened species.

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