A smiling boy flies a kite
Celebrating Clean Rivers Sixth grader Metayo Maritz flies a kite at the Rooivlerkiefees—an Afrikaans word that means “Festival of the Redfin"—outside of Cape Town, South Africa. © Jeremy Shelton

Stories in Africa

2021 Year in Review

Matt Brown looking at camera
Matt Brown TNC Africa Regional Director © Beth Wald

Letter From Director

"On a cold June winter day in 2010, I found myself in Arusha, Tanzania, at the office of a local partner—Ujamaa Community Resource Team—meeting with a small group of other conservation organizations that all worked together. Instead of chairs, they had these big tree stumps. We were all wearing motorcycle tire sandals, drinking sugary Maasai tea, and eating chapatis. Literally breaking bread, we built trust.

We talked about the future of the northern Tanzania rangelands and what we could achieve together. We found common ground with the Maasai: Keeping the land open for cattle also keeps it open for wildlife.

Since that day, together with our nine partners in the Northern Tanzania Rangelands Initiative, we’ve supported pastoralist communities to put nearly 3.6 million acres of this landscape under conservation.

This is how we work in nine countries today: Bring together diverse stakeholders, tackle big questions, listen well, build trust, complement the great work of others, and collaborate on solutions that benefit nature and people.

A strategic prioritization process we conducted for the continent in those early days still guides us as we make decisions about new opportunities. We’re still asking ourselves big questions:

1.          How do we scale up our projects to create transformation at the national level?

2.          How do we ensure that our progress lasts?

3.          How do we work dynamically in a rapidly changing world?

After 14 years with TNC Africa, I have stepped into the role of TNC’s Global Conservation Director. I’m excited to help strengthen connections across regions and build efficiencies to deliver on our 2030 goals on climate, land, water, and the ocean.

I’m proud of the team we’ve built in Africa and the strong partnerships we’ve developed. I’ll be capitalizing on all that I’ve learned since that winter day, and working to ensure that the entire organization benefits from all that we’ve achieved together toward our vision of a wild and prosperous Africa. Building trust is crucial to success." 

—Matt Brown | Managing Director, Global Conservation, TNC

Latest News Update: Ademola Ajabe has been selected as TNC's Africa Regional Managing Director. Ademola brings 20 years of conservation experience in Africa, most recently with BirdLife International.

Phillip Ihenacho looking at camera
Phillip Ihenacho TNC Africa Council Chair © Courtesy of Phillip Ihenacho

From the Africa Council

"One of TNC’s many strengths is being a good partner to African leaders—from the grassroots level to the highest levels of government—and providing science, tools, and connections to support them in reaching their goals. Conservation on the continent will only be sustainable with local communities and African leadership at the helm."

—Phillip Ihenacho  |  Chair, TNC Africa Council

TNC's Africa Council

Teresa Beck 
Wendy Bennett 
John Bernstein
Michael W. Branham
Joanna Brown 
Shona Brown 
Kenneth K. Coe
Phillip Ihenacho
Pamela Isdell
Elsie Kanza
Connie Keller
Dennis Keller
Tom Lalampaa
Edwin Macharia
Brian Makare
James Mworia
Mary Anne Rogers
Cynthia Ryan
John Sall 
Karim Shariff
Fred Wakeman

Inside the Year in Review

  • The Key to Climate Action Hidden in Africa’s Forests

    The Africa Forest Carbon Catalyst uses an "incubator"-style approach to accelerate natural climate solutions that protect and restore some of the planet’s most vulnerable forest in Africa. Read a Q&A

  • Clearing the Way for Healthier Grass in Tanzania

    After years of changing rainfall patterns and overgrazing, parts of northern Tanzania’s grasslands have been under siege from a drought-resistant plant. A new pilot program is tackling the challenge head on. Watch a Video

  • Science Behind the Scenes in Cape Town

    A new interactive tool will help partners in the Greater Cape Town Water Fund work together efficiently, track progress, and show where invasive plant removal interventions are best helping the city avoid the next "Day Zero." Read the Article

  • Room for Rhinos to Roam

    Black rhino numbers are climbing back slowly in Kenya, but the limiting factor is space. A new rhino sanctuary at Loisaba Conservancy could give existing rhino populations more space to thrive and grow. Learn More

  • African Oasis: The Okavango Delta

    At the height of Botswana’s six-month dry season, rainwater from Angola’s lush highlands spills into the heart of the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa, setting in motion an ecological spectacle unlike anywhere else on Earth. Take a Journey


Download the PDF

2021 Africa Year in Review