2021 to 2022 Conservation Funding Guidelines (Last updated: December 1, 2020)
OPCFHK envisions a world where Asian wildlife remains biologically diverse under the stewardship of humans, corporations and governments. We are committed to advocating, facilitating and participating in effective conservation efforts of Asian wildlife, with an emphasis on Chinese white dolphins and giant pandas, as well as their habitats. This will be achieved through partnerships, fundraising, research and education. With limited funds and given the urgency of conservation efforts, it is important that research studies contribute to effective conservation. Therefore, we seek proposals with measurable conservation outcomes.
In 2020/21, the Foundation funded 13 projects (11%) out of 119 eligible applications. A full list of previous projects and their summaries can be viewed on Foundation’s website.
The Foundation solicits projects on threatened wildlife in Asia, particularly on the Foundation’s focal species, the giant panda and the Chinese white dolphin, as well as other threatened wildlife (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, birds, fishes, invertebrates and other aquatic and terrestrial mammals) and their habitats throughout Asia. Study outcomes must contribute to successful conservation and could entail the development of conservation action plans and/or social science-based conservation programmes. All proposals must include relevant and specific conservation targets, measurable milestones, and an evaluation of the programme’s effectiveness using quantifiable indicators (e.g. before and after questionnaire).
Regular projects (1 to 2 years) should be geared towards one of the areas below. The provision of funding for multiple-year projects is reviewed every year. In the 2021/22 funding cycle, only Regular projects will be funded.
- Wildlife Conservation
- Conduct in-situ field studies to enhance the understanding of the target species population, the condition of their habitats and the threats they face in the wild, and/or
- Collaborate with local communities, institutes, and the government to formulate effective conservation management plans to preserve threatened species and their habitats, and/or
- Conduct ex-situ studies on the target species to promote and improve in-situ conservation efforts.
- Social Science-based Conservation
- Design and organise in-situ and ex-situ conservation education programmes to raise public awareness of wildlife conservation and to engage locals to change their daily activities and behaviour in support of conservation efforts, and/or
- Conduct capacity-building programmes or workshops to advance the nature reserve and conservation education teams' knowledge and skills for effective conservation action.
Applications will be assessed based on the five selection criteria under each project area as listed below
- Wildlife Conservation
- scientific and conservation value and impact on in-situ wildlife conservation;
- applicants or collaborators' research ability, experience, and previous project performance;
- presence of clear and achievable goals, sound methodology, reasonable timeline, realistic budget, and detailed work plan;
- effectiveness on enhancing local capacity community or students in professional techniques, conservation, or research ability; and
- presence of specific and practical long-term plans for conserving the target species/habitat that is proposed by experts of the field, stakeholders and the project team after thorough discussion, presence of follow-up actions to achieve the target.
- Social Science-based Conservation
- ability to enhance the knowledge/ability of the participants or raise conservation awareness, and induce prominent and long-term attitudinal and behavioural change;
- applicants or collaborators' community leadership and local knowledge, and previous project performance;
- presence of clear and achievable goals, sound methodology, reasonable timeline, realistic budget, and detailed work plan;
- effectiveness on mitigating/eliminating specific threats or restoring the targeted species/habitat, and bring significant, long-term benefits to the local community through capacity building; and
- presence of a comprehensive evaluation of effectiveness can be achieved with detailed, realistic plan and specific indicators.
The Foundation solicits proposals worldwide, but the proposed work must be conducted in countries or regions in Asia according to United Nations Statistical Division plus Papua New Guinea, higher priority will be given to projects from Eastern, Southern and South-Eastern Asia. Coastal countries connected to Asia where funding is limited and with threatened wide-ranging Asian species (e.g. Far East Russian western gray whales), will be considered.
About 50% of the total funding for 2021/22 will be allocated to aquatic and terrestrial mammals (including Chinese white dolphin and giant panda), while the rest will be allocated to other threatened species. To encourage local researchers in host country to take the lead in conserving threatened species in their countries and to build local capacity, the majority of funding will be granted to projects with local researchers in the host country as Principal Investigators, whilst the remaining portion will support projects led by international institutes and research teams with the participation of local people.
Funding priority will be given to threatened Asian species listed in the IUCN Red List categories of Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable. Projects addressing species in the Data Deficient or Near Threatened categories will also be considered.
Funding priority will be given to projects aligned with one or more of the two main themes highlighted below.
Marine ecosystems provide a range of critical and undervalued ecosystem services that are fundamental to the health and stability of our society. However, overexploitation, pollution, and other forms of anthropogenic disturbances continued to threaten the marine wildlife of Asia. The Foundation committed to support projects that contribute to the conservation and management of coral reefs, identify impact of marine debris on Asian wildlife, or innovative solutions to alleviate threats against marine wildlife. Higher priority will be given to proposals featuring one the following marine species in Ocean Park’s SAFE programme: Chinese white dolphin (Sousa chinensis), staghorn corals (Acropora spp.), green turtle (Chelonia mydas); Chinese horseshoe crab (Tachypleus tridentatus); scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) and yellow seahorse (Hippocampus kuda).
Theme 2: Combating Illegal Trade of Threatened Species
In recent years, illegal trade of wildlife and other threatened species has emerged as one of the most significant threats to biodiversity globally. Hong Kong, as a global trade centre, is also an important wildlife trafficking hub, where containers filled with illegal wildlife products are seized on a regular basis. Despite local and international laws and treaties enacted to discourage these trades, record numbers of live animals and animal products continued to be traded illegally, and species are being driven to brink of extinction. The Foundation encourages projects that proactively address problems associated with combating illegal wildlife trade. Preferred project areas include but are not limited to the following:
- Development of cost-effective and accurate forensic protocols that can applied be by law enforcement agencies;
- Education programmes and tools that can effectively increase public awareness; innovative alternative-livelihood programmes that can be implemented in local communities;
- Studies that quantitatively address local stakeholders attitudes and behavior towards wildlife trade (e.g. demographic, household income, % of income generated).
- Project duration and total funding: The year (2021/22), the Foundation only supports Regular projects (1-2 years). Funding covers relevant project expenses during the approved project period as stated in the application. While there is no upper limit on total funding, successful applicants received on average HK$250,000 to HK$300,000 per project, depending on the scope and nature of the project. Please use the financial year of the Foundation, which is from July to June, when filling in the budget for the different financial years in the application form. Failure to do so will affect the funding application.
- Principal Investigator (PI), Deputy PI and Co-Investigator(s): Each applicant can submit only one application as the Principal Investigator of a project and act as PI in not more than two concurrent projects funded by the Foundation. The PI shall take up full responsibility for the project and ensure project completion with satisfactory conservation outcomes. He/she shall also be an official member of the affiliated institute and the main contact person. Deputy PI shall be the lead Co-Investigator for the project and shall be the secondary contact person. One Co-PI is required to be from the same institution as the PI. The Foundation will not support projects with students as the PI, but they can be listed as Deputy PI or Co-Investigator.
- Project Manager: Project Manager is optional for any managerial personnel from the affiliated institute to oversee the project progress and s/he may or may not participate in project implementation.
- Open access of project findings: Researchers are expected to publish project findings in international peer-reviewed scientific journals or in publicly accessible channels. Acknowledgement of support by the Foundation shall be included in the publications. Please state “Funding support was provided by Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong (OPCFHK) (INSERT GRANT CODE)” in publications or any printed materials. To promote open access, researchers are also encouraged to deposit their raw data at publicly accessible platforms or online repositories (e.g. Dryad). Upon project completion, researchers are required to prepare a summary of project findings to be uploaded onto the OPCFHK website. The final report will also be uploaded onto the OPCFHK website after 3 years of project completion without further notice.
- Overhead costs and management fees: The Foundation will not pay for administrative or management fees and other indirect costs from universities, research institutes and non-governmental organisations. A request to waive these fees from the institute or organisation is encouraged to allocate more funding to fieldwork.
- Receiving and returning foreign funds: PI has the obligation to ensure their affiliated institute has the capacity to receive funding from Hong Kong and refund to Hong Kong. It is the PI’s responsibility to acquire and complete all documentation to facilitate reception of funds. The Foundation will not pay for, nor be responsible for additional documents needed to receive payment. Excessive administrative requirements may could affect project application or lead to termination of contract if outside funds cannot be received or returned. Institutes that fail to return unspent funding upon request will be blacklisted.
Receiving and returning foreign funds in China: The Foundation is not a registered NGO in China. Since the changes in China NGO laws in 2016, the Foundation has had mixed success in sending funding into China, given the high variability in requirements of local government. PIs are strongly encouraged to investigate the local registration process they may need to go through should their application be successful. The Foundation cannot promise to provide any documentation that maybe needed during registration or banking. The Foundation will also not be responsible for any additional cost associated with such administrative procedures. Institutes that fail to return unspent funding upon request will be blacklisted.
- Personnel expenses: The Foundation may consider providing subsidies only to local partners, such as research or field assistants. Please provide detailed justification for requests to subsidise personnel expenses. Salaries of PI and Deputy PI will not be supported.
- Student subsidy: The Foundation may support fieldwork expenses, i.e. transportation, travel, meals and accommodations, but tuition fees or living costs of students will not be supported.
- Agreement: Agreement can be entered with and payment can only be made to an affiliated institute, which must be a legal entity and not an individual. Exceptional cases will be considered separately. It is the applicants' responsibility to secure proper means of payment between the foundation and the affiliated institute. PIs need to ensure that the provided bank accounts have capacity to receive donation outside their countries. Excessive administrative requirements may result in disqualification of grantee or termination of contract.
- Payments: The first payment will be made after a duly-signed contract is in place, whilst subsequent payments will only be made upon receipt of progress/final reports and measurable deliverables. The final payment further requires a verified financial statement prepared by the affiliated institute. The Foundation may withhold payments if researchers fail to comply with the terms and conditions of the agreement.
- Equipment purchase: Any equipment purchased using the Foundation's funds shall belong to the Foundation, and the Foundation reserves the right to claim ownership of the equipment. A request (via Equipment Donation Form) shall be sent to the Foundation asking for keeping the equipment to the Principal Investigator's institution for future use, which shall be subject to the Foundation's approval.
- Previously-funded project: Application for the study of the same species at the same location supported by OPCFHK funding in the past will be considered only if significant new conservation outcomes are anticipated during this period, or if the study builds on the knowledge of the species, such as a long-term population assessment of a species.
- Underperforming investigators: Researchers who failed to submit, or submitted reports or extension requests later than the deadline without reasonable justification and prior agreement with the Foundation, or whose project outcomes are of unsatisfactory standards will be notified. Principal investigator with unsatisfactory performance will be banned from applying new grant in the next two funding cycles.
- Internship opportunities: To encourage capacity building of in-situ conservation experience to university students, proposals offering internship opportunities to university students from Hong Kong will be given a higher priority among proposals of similar quality.
- Research Ethics: The Principal investigator is required to fill in a research ethics declaration form and upload during the application process. The Principal Investigator should have received the necessary approval before the submission of application, failure to do so may affect the application.
- Plagiarism: Principal investigator is required to upload anti-plagiarism scan of the application materials by any anti-plagiarism software (e.g. Turnitin) during the application process for reviewers’ reference. Failure to do so may affect the application.
The Foundation's Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), composed of eminent local and overseas scientists and conservationists, will review funding applications between February and March 2021 based on the selection criteria listed above. Applicants may be required to provide further information to address SAC's comments.
Successful projects will be announced in mid-July 2021 on our website and agreements will be signed along with the transfer of the first instalment of funding thereafter.
Applicants must submit completed application form via our online application system by January 31, 2021 on or before Hong Kong time 12:00 noon (GMT +08:00). After the deadline the application platform will close automatically.
Incomplete form, insufficient or incorrect information provided may result in disqualification of application.
After successful proposal submission on the online platform, confirmation emails with the corresponding application number will be automatically sent to each Principal Investigator and Deputy PI (if applicable).
For enquiries, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information for Successful Applicants
Principal Investigators (PIs) must submit all reports and products electronically to the Foundation email address (email@example.com). For files larger than 10MB in size, please make use of cloud storage (e.g. Google Drive/Dropbox) and send us the link to access those files. Each project shall submit between two and four reports to realise payments, depending on the funding amount and project duration. An introduction summary shall be submitted upon agreement is duly-signed to introduce the project work.
To realise the final instalment, a project end summary, a final scientific report, a financial report, a completed equipment donation form and project deliverables and products shall be submitted before the specified project end date. The project end summary along with citations to scientific publications produced will be uploaded onto the Foundation’s website for public viewing. The final scientific report will also be uploaded onto the Foundation’s website 3 years following project completion. Photos and videos resulting from the project may also be used by the Foundation for promotional, fundraising, and educational purposes.
An introduction summary shall summarise project details (including project name, principal investigator and project period), objectives, planned activities and expected outcomes.
A project end summary shall summarise key findings and implications with the citations of publications.
Each summary is limited to a maximum of 200 words and both will be uploaded onto the Foundation’s website.
The standard format for the scientific report shall include, but is not limited to:
- Introduction: State the overall objectives of the study, its significance, major tasks and the expected project deliverables as stated in the application;
- Current project status: For each objective stated in the proposal, describe the activities undertaken to achieve that objective; for each project deliverable, describe whether it is achieved in the report period;
- To-date results and analyses: Describe in details with the results achieved (including data and graph to illustrate), scientific publications produced and other related products generated;
- Evaluation and conclusion:
Wildlife Conservation projects
Provide a brief assessment of the project’s impact on the conservation and management of the target species, its habitat or the ecosystem, whether any scientific publications have been produced, any conservation plans have been generated from the project and how to further disseminate the project outcomes.
Social Science-based Conservation projects
A section evaluating the effectiveness of the training/education programmes shall be included in the report. Indicators may comprise of, but shall not be limited to, enhanced knowledge on the target species and the habitat, key takeaways from the programmes, and behavioural changes of the participants. Claims of knowledge transfer and effects on behavioural changes must be supported by evidence, such as before-and-after? survey results.
A scanned version of the official financial report issued by the Finance Office or equivalent department of the agreement signatory shall be submitted along with the final scientific report, which contains the following information:
- Project details, including project name, principal investigator and project period;
- Itemisation of expenditures made using the grant funds, and comparing this itemisation with the approved budget as stated in the agreement;
- Identification of the reasons for significant changes in funding allocation;
- Exchange rate of foreign currency to Hong Kong dollar;
- Signature of Head of Finance Office (or equivalent) and institution stamp/chop as certification.
The institute shall retain all pertinent substantiation documents, including and without limitation to invoices and receipts, and have them available for review by the Foundation if needed. Refunding any unspent funds shall be completed within the period agreed upon in the duly signed agreement.
Project Deliverables and Products
The final report shall be accompanied by soft copies of all deliverables and products generated from the project, including posters, brochures, videos, selected photos (with short captions and photo credits in the format of photographer name_organisation name e.g. Name_Institute), other printed materials and scientific publications. Hard copies of these deliverables and products should be provided upon request.
Extension/Revision of the Project Plan
Principal Investigators are required to seek approval in writing from the Deputy Director, Ms Josephine Wong, no less than six weeks before the scheduled report submission time regarding any changes to the objective, time frame, scope of work, plan, key personnel and deliverables of the project, and must include justification and a revised project timeline. Subsequent requests on postponing project deadline will require the Foundation’s Scientific Committee’s endorsement. Principal Investigators who failed to submit extension request letter six weeks prior to the report submission deadline or whose project report was overdue for two months, would be rated as ‘Unsatisfactory’ for record and the priority for his/her future funding application to the Foundation will be lowered for two years. Please refer to the extension policy for further details.
Publications and Printed Materials
Written acknowledgement of the financial support by the Foundation shall be included in any formally published article, scientific publication, meeting and conference proceedings, and any other printed materials (including but not limited to posters, leaflets, booklets, exhibition panels, banners, and event backdrops) to disseminate project findings or raise public awareness. Please state “Funding support was provided by Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong (OPCFHK)” in publications or any printed materials.
Upon acceptance and publication of scientific journal papers, researchers must inform the Foundation and provide the citation information and soft copy of the publication. The citation information will be uploaded onto the Foundation’s website.
The Foundation’s logo shall be placed in a conspicuous location on printed materials. The logo and logo guideline are available upon request. Principal Investigators should ensure the Foundation’s name is correctly acknowledged and protect the logo integrity. Please send the design layout to the Foundation’s Scientific Officer for approval before production or release, and confirmation from the Foundation shall be obtained within 3 working days.
Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong
Ocean Park Aberdeen, Hong Kong
Phone: (852) 3923 2941
Fax: (852) 2553 5840