Conservation Influencers

Earth Trust

USA, Hawaii

Earth Trust was established in Hawaii in 1976 by Don White, a founding member of Greenpeace and its former international campaign director. The organization claims to pay no full-time salaries and to be staffed by a network of volunteers. However, according to its website, it pays programme managers and other staff ‘whenever there is a defined mission’. Its overall mission is, in its words, to make the earth a better place for ‘wildlife and mankind by tackling “impossible” environmental issues that others have given up on’.

Earth Trust believes that it is engaged in a war with the commercial wildlife industry, which it accuses of wanting to ‘kill the very last member of many species’. It justifies that claim by arguing ‘there’s big money, hundreds of millions of dollars, in play to pay for their execution’. 

In pursuit of its beliefs, Earth Trust opposes the commercial exploitation of every wild species on the planet. The exception being, it would seem, when it makes money from the multi-billion-dollar tuna industry. Because Earth Trust International claims that it devised the market-led Flipper Seal of Approval, which signals to consumers that cans of tuna displaying the label are ‘dolphin friendly’, so long as companies first pay the license fee to join the scheme. (Note: this scheme does not provide or require any proof about mortalities or injuries of dolphins caused in the capture of the tuna.) 

One of Earth Trust’s major initiatives was to create the Species Survival Network (SSN), which it co-founded in 1992 to enhance the strict enforcement of CITES’ listings.  This coalition of around 80 animal activist NGOs boasts that its SSN Fish Working Group lobbied successfully for the listing of the great white shark, whale shark, basking shark, Napoleon wrasse and seahorses in CITES’ appendices.

Another of Earth Trust’s initiatives is Save The Whales International (STWI), which it founded and still manages. This campaign is hostile to all forms of commercial whaling. However, STWI has invested most of its energies in challenging Japan’s research-led whaling activities. 


Don White


According to its website it has a small board of directors and a large number of advisors.



About the directory

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.


Franz Weber Foundation

From 1990 until 2015, Franz Weber Foundation (FFW) managed the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park in Togo, which was, according to an in-depth investigation by Duke University, ‘established by forcing the local communities off their land and without taking into consideration their point of view’. That same study cited convincing evidence from reports published in 1990, confirming that competition for land use was already ‘creating conflict between the local communities and park managers’. In 2015 Togo refused to renew FFW’s contract because, the report says, ‘local communities were still excluded from the management of the natural resources of their land’ and FFW had ‘failed to fulfil its contract’. Franz Weber Foundation plays a major role within CITES because it funds and manages from Switzerland the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), which represents 32 African range states, some of which have barely any elephants and others none at all. Contrary to the wishes of the range states in Southern Africa, which manage most of the world’s wild elephant populations, the AEC at CITES’ CoPs repeatedly tables proposals to put all of the world’s elephants in appendix I. And the AEC uses its voting power to keep in place prohibitions on ivory sales and all other trade in elephant-related derivatives, including skins and hair, which Southern African nations wish to legalise.