The VCA Programme focuses on conserving the areas where we live and work, i.e. areas owned and managed outside of legally protected areas.

It’s a new and innovative approach and so, understandably, there are questions about it. This page answers some of the more frequent questions we encounter.

Please do contact us directly, however, with any other questions you may have!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I register my area as a VCA?

The VCA Programme aims to recognise and indeed celebrate your efforts to conserve our planet.

By registering a VCA, you will be joining a growing social movement to conserve areas where we live and work.

Your area-based conservation efforts will become visible and publicly accountable.

You will be able to demonstrate to stakeholders – including your neighbours, potential funders, and regulatory authorities – that you are committed positive conservation outcomes in your area.

You will be able to share experiences and lessons learned with other VCAs, VCA Partners and VCA experts.

You will become part of the solution to reducing our global footprint.

What do VCA managers see as the benefits of registration?

Here are some examples:

A large beer brewer who also produces cider and manages its orchards sustainably to be bee-friendly can now get its efforts recognized. VCA listing is the beginning of a journey towards ever more sustainable management of its orchards.

A community that has decided to restore a degraded wetland sees VCA as a practical tool to guide its restoration efforts. The community’s administration is responsible to the public for the costs this incurs and VCA provides it with transparency (the Registry), with guidance (the Standard and Toolkit), with access to qualified experts (VCA Partners and Auditors), and with the possibility to demonstrate that investments in the wetland pay off.

An individual who already manages a property of 60 hectares sustainably can now get the recognition that she deserves as well as an opportunity to approach donors and to engage partners in conservation.

A gas factory can be recognised for conserving a coral reef and fish habitat in its industrial harbour. The VCA Programme provides an internal framework for managing the company’s impacts on marine biodiversity. Externally, VCA registration enables the company to communicate to stakeholders – investors, lenders, customers, government regulators, local communities, NGOs and academia – about their efforts to have a net positive impact on biodiversity.

What areas can be listed on the VCA Registry?

If you have a conservation management plan for your area, the area can be registered as Verified Conservation Area.

Any area which is managed to enhance its conservation performance is eligible.

The area can be private owned, collectively or community managed, or publicly owned.

It can be of any size and in any country or any ecosystem.

What do we mean by conservation?

We use the IUCN definition of conservation set out in its World Conservation Strategy:

Conservation is the management of human use of the biosphere so that it may yield the greatest sustainable benefit to present generations while maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations.

Thus conservation is positive, embracing preservation, maintenance, sustainable utilization, restoration, and enhancement of the natural environment.

This definition is important for two reasons. First, it makes clear that conservation is about management and the VCA Programmerecognises area-based conservation management. Second, it makes clear that conservation is not just about preservation or protection. Areas can also be managed for maintenance, sustainable utilization, restoration and the enhancement of the natural environment.

How is area-based conservation verified?

The basis of verification is public confirmation by a land owner or manger of his/her voluntary commitment to conserve nature.

The VCA Programme also offers the opportunity for enhanced verification through an audit process. This includes audits of the conservation management plan and the annual performance reports by an approved VCA Auditor. The audit process provides an independent, peer-review of the land owner or manager’s stated commitment to conserve nature.


Importantly, all plans, reports and audits are publicly available on the VCA website.

How much does it cost to register a VCA?

Nothing! There is no fee for registering an area as a VCA.

Send us the required documentation VCA and we will be most happy to include your area in the VCA Registry.

We will, of course, also be happy to assist you with any questions you may have on the registration process.

Any costs that you incur will relate directly to your area-based conservation actions and to associated planning, reporting and auditing.



What's the difference between a VCA and a protected area?

Protected areas are generally “designated” or “regulated” by government to protect or preserve nature. They are also usually publicly-owned areas, but there are also community and private protected. The emphasis is on designating an area for protection.

A VCA is an area which is being managed for conservation outcomes. These outcomes can include protection or preservation but also other such as sustainable utilization or restoration. The are generally outside of legally protect areas and can be managed by communities, companies, individuals or local authorities. The defining feature of a VCA is visible, committed area-based conservation management.

Hence, we see VCAs as complementing the important role that protected areas play on our planet by recognising and encouraging area-based conservation where we live and work.

What's the buzz? What are people saying about VCAs?

By encouraging transparency and rigorous conservation management, verified conservation is a powerful instrument for mitigating our Ecological Footprint, hectare by hectare.

– Mathis Wackernagel, President, Global Footprint Network, a VCA Partner

The VCA’s approach to transparency will help improve how areas are managed and build their credibility. The case for transparency has been demonstrated by tools such as the Global Reporting Initiative, and VCAs can bring powerful new ideas to conservation practices.

– Sean Gilbert, former Director of Standards Framework, Global Reporting Initiative, and VCA Special Adviser

The VCA approach facilitates innovative and efficient financing for biodiversity conservation where it matters – on the ground.

– Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Vice President of the Center for Environment and Peace, Conservation International, and VCA Board member

By registering their conservation areas as VCAs, remote communities can become visible to the international community and secure much needed support for their efforts.

– Rili Djohani, Executive Director, Coral Triangle Center, Bali, and VCA Board member

Verified Conservation Areas can play a key role in conserving and restoring Europe’s green infrastructure and biodiversity.

– Joseph van der Stegen, with the EU’s Environmental DG working on Natura 2000, and former VCA Special Adviser

The VCA List provides an innovative way for corporate biodiversity mitigation – including measures to avoid, minimise, restore and offset – to be visible and accountable to stakeholders.

– Randall Kramer, Professor of Environmental Economics and Global Health, Duke University, and VCA Board member

With the requirement of independent audits, the VCA approach provides additional assurance to investors, donors, authorities and neighbours that an area is being managed for conservation.

– Zeke Oman, previously a biodiversity finance officer at the International Finance Corporation, and VCA Special Adviser

Through registering area-based conservation management, the VCA approach is creating a new asset class of natural capital.

– Joshua Bishop, Markets, Sustainability & Business Partnerships Manager, WWF Australia, and VCA Board member

Do you have a video explaining the VCA Approach?

Our video is a bit out-of date and we need to make a new one, but it still gets our message across! Have a look: