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Background & Mission: Biodiversity & Livelihoods

A Leader in Conservation & Development

Frontier was established in 1989 as a non-profit conservation and development non-governmental organisation (NGO) dedicated to safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystem integrity and building sustainable livelihoods for marginalised communities in the world's poorest countries. Our first projects were in Tanzania, one of the world's poorest countries. Carrying out groundbreaking surveys in remote forest, savannah, and marine environments, our dedicated teams of volunteers set about building a comprehensive picture of areas that were heretofore ignored, despite being, as we discovered, among the most biodiverse areas in the world. At the time, Professor John Poynton of the Natural History Museum said:

"In its biodiversity and biogeographical dynamics, Tanzania is proving to be one of the most - if not the most - significant countries in Africa... Over the past decade Frontier's collecting and data recording has progressively developed to achieve high professional standards, which allow vastly improved knowledge of the biodiversity, ecology and biogeography of the area through a detailed recording of specimens, habitats and altitudes... Frontier's work certainly sets a new standard in the exploration and documenting of the African fauna."

Our exhaustive studies led to the creation of the Mafia Island marine park (a partnership between Frontier and WWF), widely hailed as the world's most successful multi-user marine park and one that today still exemplifies the original principles that underpinned its creation. Our years of research in the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests of Tanzania have formed the main part of the IUCN book "Biodiversity of the Eastern Arc Mountains", the most comprehensive data set ever produced for the area and one that is routinely cited by leading academics and policymakers around the world. Studies in the Kilombero Valley led to the protection of the critically-endangered puku antelope and to the gazetting of areas of miombo woodland that would be otherwise logged for teak, a critical support system for elephants in the area.

Originally focused largely on scientific and conservation research, Frontier's mandate soon evolved into one that combined community development, capacity building, ecosystem protection, economic growth, and the development of civil society. This reflected our fundamental belief that the only way to create a mutually-beneficial relationship between man and the environment is to address both human and environmental needs. Today, Frontier projects run the gamut of community development, educational, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, humanitarian and research and conservation projects. The holistic approach originally pioneered by Frontier has subsequently been adopted as an example of best practice by conservation workers and development professional in government agencies and NGOs worldwide including organisations such as Conservation International, and WWF.

2020 marked an important milestone for Frontier as we celebrated 30 years of delivering safe, relevant and successful projects. Volunteers are welcomed by Frontier staff and partners to take part in a wide and diverse range of projects in over twenty countries on every continent worldwide except Antarctica. All of our projects are long-term partnerships between Frontier, local NGOs and community organisations, government agencies and research and conservation institutes and all aim to build coalitions between stakeholders at the local, national, and international level.

Mission Statement

To conserve the world's most endangered wildlife and threatened habitats and to build sustainable livelihoods for marginalised and under resourced communities in the world's poorest countries. To create solutions that are apolitical, forward-thinking, community-driven, and innovative and which take into consideration the long-term needs of low income communities.


  • Commitment to working with the most deprived communities in the host country, through the development of partnerships and collaborations, such relationships being central to the Frontier approach.

  • Attainment of the highest standards of scientific research in all activities and the creation of a stimulating environment in which scientific research is maintained and flourishes.

  • Dedication to being an integral and supportive part of the scientific and development community, contributing extensively in the planning and execution of projects pertinent to the needs of the target area and sensitive to local populations.

  • Commitment to acting as a catalyst for positive corporate change and helping businesses to become responsible corporate citizens.

  • Dedication to helping the public sector adopt ethical and responsible practices aimed at delivering sustainable development and ecosystem protection.

  • Extending conservation and development engagement to the widest possible group of stakeholders in government and civil society.

Our Guiding Principles

  • Our partners' and our volunteers' needs and interests always come first. We measure our success in terms of volunteer and partner satisfaction.

  • Our asset is our reputation. We are dedicated to complying fully with the laws, rules, and ethical principles that govern us. Our continued success depends on upon unswerving adherence to the highest standards.

  • We take great pride in the professional quality of our work. We are determined to achieve excellence in everything we undertake. Though we may be involved in a wide variety of projects we would, if it came to a choice, rather be best than biggest.

  • We encourage creativity, enterprise and imagination in all our ventures. While recognising that the traditional method may still be the best way, we constantly strive to find improved solutions to our partners' and volunteer's expectations and challenges. We pride ourselves on having pioneered many of the methodologies, practices and techniques that have now been adopted as standard across our sector.

  • We make an unusual effort to identify and recruit the very best person for every role. In an ethics-driven business we know that without the best people, we cannot do the most meaningful work.

  • We offer our people the opportunity to move ahead more rapidly than is possible at most other businesses. Frontier is a recognised as offering an important springboard to a career in one of the world's most prestigious conservation and development organisations and we promote skills development and merit-based advancement for all of our staff.

  • We urge teamwork in everything that we do. While individual creativity is always encouraged, we believe that team effort often produces the best results.

  • The dedication of the Frontier staff team and the exceptional effort they bring to their work are greater than one finds in most other organisations. We think that this is an integral part of our success.

  • We constantly strive to anticipate the rapidly changing needs of our beneficiaries, partners and associates and to develop new projects and initiatives to meet those needs. We know that the world does not stand still and that complacency is destructive.

  • Integrity and honesty are at the heart of our business: we expect our staff team to maintain high ethical standard in everything they do.