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What is EDGE?

The EDGE of Existence programme was the first global conservation initiative to focus specifically on threatened species that represent a significant amount of unique evolutionary history.

Using a scientific framework to identify the world’s most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species, the EDGE of Existence programme highlights and protects some of the most unique, extraordinary, and overlooked species on the planet. EDGE species have few close relatives on the Tree of Life and are often extremely unusual in the way they look, live and behave, as well as in their genetic makeup. They represent a unique and irreplaceable part of the world’s natural heritage, yet an alarming proportion are on the verge of extinction.

To safeguard these species, we are committed to supporting, strengthening, and diversifying conservation leadership in critical regions. The EDGE Fellowship exemplifies this commitment. It is a 28-month fellowship for local early-career conservationists from lower- and middle-income countries. We equip these emerging leaders—EDGE Fellows—with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities required to advance their careers and spearhead effective conservation efforts for the world’s most unique and extraordinary species.

The extinction of species is a call to action for all of us, and we stand ready to answer that call and contribute to a healthier and vibrant planet for all species.





A world where the most unique and extraordinary species thrive, supported by a global network of diverse conservation leaders spearheading sustainable conservation that delivers equity and justice.



We ignite a global movement to recognise and protect Earth’s most unique, extraordinary, and overlooked species. To do this, we support, strengthen, and diversify conservation leadership in critical regions, championing local stewardship, capacity-sharing initiatives, and collaborative networks to accelerate the changes we need for a healthy and vibrant planet for all species.



The importance of unique and irreplaceable species. Maintaining the diversity among the Earth’s most unique and irreplaceable species is vital for a healthy and thriving planet. These species, custodians of evolution’s most extraordinary and important creations, are critical in maintaining the functional balance of ecosystems and preserving the rich tapestry of life. Despite their importance, EDGE species are often overlooked, poorly understood, and require focused conservation efforts to conserve and recover their populations.

Efficient conservation through EDGE prioritisation. Prioritising EDGE species is an efficient way to channel limited conservation resources to drive the recovery of threatened species. Prioritising EDGE species – those extraordinary lifeforms with evolutionary distinctness and important functional roles – is an efficient way to channel limited conservation resources for maximum impact.

Supporting early-career conservationists is supporting the future of conservation. Securing and maintaining a career in conservation is difficult. It is especially difficult for early-career conservationists in lower- and middle-income countries who lack secure opportunities to work in the sector and face some of the most challenging circumstances for conservationists worldwide. We support them because they are the future of conservation.

Locally led conservation is more equitable and more sustainable. Conservation is best enacted by people with a long-term stake and connection to the targeted species and regions. They are the best people to protect and restore the world’s most unique and irreplaceable threatened species and regions.