In the late 1990's, faced with increasing pressure on Micronesia's rich biodiversity and limited technical and financial resources for natural resource management, local practitioners in the emerging field of conservation initiated the development of a Conservation Trust. Following 3 years of multi-stakeholder consultations with technical support from The Nature Conservancy, MCT opened its doors in 2002 as the first conservation trust fund in the region. After overcoming various challenges and changes in operational strategy, it began active grant-making in 2004 with two small advised sinking funds (both of US$25,000) and continued modest fundraising, sustaining operations and grant-making with grants ranging from $25,000 to $75,000.
As MCT began to grow, it was select by the UN Office of Project Services to host the Micronesia GEF/PEF Small Grants program, its first regional program. In 2006, Willy Kostka joined MCT as its first Executive Director, bringing with him fundraising skills and experience as well as several solid relationships with donors, allowing for a period of rapid expansion from 2006 to the present. Also in 2006, MCT was selected as the financial mechanism for the Micronesia Challenge (MC), the most ambitious and pro-active high-level commitment to biodiversity conservation undertaken at regional level anywhere in the world. Through this position MCT is able to assist the MC jurisdiction in raising, investing, disbursing and managing the MC Endowment Fund.
In 2008, MCT completed its transition from a national organization operating solely in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), to a regional organization supporting and facilitating sustainable development in all five Micronesian jurisdictions (FSM, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau, US Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). This expansion involved a restructuring of the governing board, from a national Board of Directors composed primarily of conservation professionals to a regional Board of Trustees composed of seven regional representatives and two international members, across a range of fields, from conservation and community development, to law, banking, and business. In support of MCT's capacity building goal, MCT began hosting Pacific Islands Managed and Protected Areas Community (PIMPAC), which provides technical support to the on the field resource managers, scientists and local community conservation officers.
In contrast to its modest early financial resources, its projected FY2010 budget is approximately US$3.35million. The staff has undergone a similar expansion, growing from a staff of two in 2004 (Deputy Executive Director and Finance Officer) to a staff of eight full time employees in 2010 including an Executive Director, dedicated program staff and an Administrative Assistant all working towards the accomplishment of MCT's vision and mission. In addition to PIMPAC, MCT now hosts Micronesians in Island Conservation (MIC) network, a vital resource for building natural resource management capacity in the region.