Faia Brava ATN

How can nature conservation organizations develop sustainable relationships with venture philanthropy: the Faia Brava case

Henk Smit, president of Faia Brava ATN
Summary of presentation at EVPA conference
November 6, 2019, The Hague

The Portuguese NGO Faia Brava ATN aims at “ Creating spaces for Nature”. It owns and manages more than 1500 ha of land in North-East Portugal, centred in low density areas with still high biodiversity values. Its main jewel is the Faia Brava Reserve of more than 1000 ha, along the river Coa with steep canyons where endangered bird species nest.


During the nearly 20 years since its creation in the year 2000, Faia Brava ATN has developed from an organisation protecting birds to an organisation with a much broader focus. Faia Brava obtained a unique position in Portugal, being one of the largest private nature reserves, and now serves as an example of pro-active nature management. It provides unique opportunities to develop nature together with a broader range of ecological, social and economic vales at the same time.

Faia Brava ATN provides for ecosystem services such as Carbon sequestration and natural water storage through reforestation, fire prevention. We will conduct a project in reforestation during the next years, enabling to store 160 tons of CO2 per hectare. Our work provides social services such as environmental education to school children in the Region, jobs and carrier opportunities in a sparsely populated area, and adds nature as a touristic destination tot the portfolio of the municipality. 


Economic values added are tourism, products such as olive oil and cork, and high end touristic services.

Faia Brava ATN is able to sell products and services but also needs goal oriented partnerships to become sustainable as an organization. Out of an annual budget of €300K about €70K is difficult to be financed through the regular sources of income.

We discuss the possibilities of creating mutual benefit arrangements between nature NGO’s and venture philanthropy institutions, with Faia Brava ATN as a case study. Questions raised are:

  • How can we create a long term market for the values created by Faia Brava ATN?
  • What perspective venture philanthropy could offer to work together on goals?
  • What should Faia Brava ATN do to take steps here?

We invite you to contact us for any further idea, suggestion or advice. If you are traveling in the region, don’t hesitate to visit us!


Best wishes, Henk Smit 


Mail: presidente@faiabrava.pt
Mobile : +31 6 51526332
Web: www.faiabrava.pt and www.Naturaiberica.nl