Bio-rights: micro-credit for nature conservation

Bio-rights is a microcredit finance mechanism that combines poverty reduction and environmental improvement. We provide funding to local communities and they undertake nature conservation activities in return for this support. 


Bio-rights adds a market-based incentive to conservation and development action. Communities that normally have few if any financing opportunities receive micro-credits for environmentally-friendly economic development, such as sustainable farming or fishing, or ecotourism. As a condition for support, these communities also agree to refrain from activities that damage the environment, such as logging or poaching. 

Conservation activities

Instead of paying interest, the communities undertake environmental actions, such as replanting a degraded flood forest, restoring abandoned shrimp ponds or patrolling national parks to prevent illegal activities. 

Converting microcredit to payment

When the conservation action turns out to be a long-term success, for example if the replanted trees are in good shape after a year, the microcredits are converted into a definitive payment to the communities. In some cases this payment is managed as a revolving fund providing long-term capital for sustainable development. 

The approach covers the costs communities face to change their current unsustainable practice into long-term sustainable livelihood strategies. This motivates them to take a long-term interest in their conservation work as well. 

Local action – global impact

The conservation actions through Bio-rights have economic and environmental benefits; not only for local people but at the global level as well. For instance, replanting mangrove forests can increase fish stocks locally while storing carbon that helps limit climate change globally.

Bio-rights is thus able to bridge the gap between local and global interests.

Thereby Bio-rights offers a market-based approach for channelling payments for the conservation of environmental services to local peoples, which act as the custodians of these services.

RBA - partnership


Pieter van Eijk

Senior Technical Officer

Wetlands International Headquarters

Ede, The Netherlands

pieter.vaneijk @


Ritesh Kumar

Senior Technical Officer

Wetlands International South Asia

Delhi, India

ritesh.kumar @