The Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation is dedicated to the survival of the natural systems that produce the richness and beauty of this earth. Anything less endangers us all. Life and extinction are partners. Our programs deny extinction. We seek partners who will stand with us to insure the continued variety of life. It concerns itself particularly with matters of species extinction, habitat destruction and fragmentation, resource depletion and resource waste. It favors solutions that directly benefit local communities and serve as exemplars for saving species and wildlands. It recognizes the imperative to reconcile nature preservation with human needs and aspirations.
The Foundation devotes a substantial portion of its funding to developing countries. It therefore recognizes the destructive connection between poverty, over-population, high infant mortality, cultural traditions that dehumanize women, inequitable land distribution and the subsequent degradation of the land and the systems the land supports.
In February 1987, Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg made their first trip to Africa, chaperoned by Jim Murtaugh, then Curator of the Central Park Zoo. Jim introduced them to renowned landscape ecologist David Western. The Foundation was formed one night over dinner during their trip.
The Foundation is also actively involved in conservation in the United States, particularly Montana and those Western states historically dependent upon extractive industries and agriculture. It encourages local initiatives addressing the problems of diminishing natural resources, technological change and job loss. It emphasizes conservation through cooperation, persuasion and the development of sustainable economic alternatives to resource depletion.