One of the most crucial elements of CI’s plan to save the panda
– as well as other threatened species throughout the world – is the biodiversity conservation corridor. It’s an important strategy that’s rooted in our commitment to meeting the needs of both people and animals.
The Corridor, Defined
Biodiversity conservation corridors are strategically located regions that link key habitats for plants and animals, including protected areas. Rather than the narrow strip of land you might envision, a corridor is actually a broad landscape that encompasses a range of land uses, including agriculture, human settlements, and even industrial activities.
What is their purpose?
By connecting fragmented habitats and protected areas, corridors enable us to:
What are the advantages of the corridor concept?
Most threats to critical habitats actually originate far from the sites and well outside of the control of park managers and conservationists, like decisions made by national and provincial governments or the pressures of changing market demands. Conservation corridors, however, can help foster and encourage collaboration among stakeholders at all scales. Planning a corridor is essentially creating a sustainable landscape that’s optimized for both human and nonhuman inhabitants over the long term.
Because of its large scale, corridor planning enables conservation to occur in partnership with human communities, and not become a rival to economic development.
A benefit felt around the world – one acre at a time.
The corridor concept can also contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions. Each acre of destroyed forest releases stored carbon, contributing more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the world’s cars, trucks, SUVs, and planes. This drives climate change, and climate change is affecting us all globally, in changing rainfall patterns, rising ocean levels, and increased drought.
So while corridor development is critical to protecting threatened species like pandas, it also works to curb global warming. Because our efforts to protect forests also account for human economic needs, corridors promote the well-being of both people and wildlife.
What challenges arise in planning a corridor project?
Successful corridor planning must involve a thorough understanding of local and regional people and their economic needs, followed by a strategy for addressing those needs while achieving biodiversity goals.
According to Grace Wong, CI’s Senior Advisor for Corridor Economics and Planning, “Conservation strategies at this scale inevitably revolve around the question of development versus conservation. It’s a matter of generating information on tradeoffs and costs, and also finding the synergies where possible. Often, to make a project work for people on the ground, we bring in all of our economic tools – such as fair trade coffee projects and ecotourism – to support development while lowering the costs of conservation to the government and local communities.”
A solution beyond the panda
While corridor development is a key element of CI’s larger conservation plan for the giant panda, the strategy is already seeing success throughout the world. Corridors are hard at work in Bolivia, Brazil, the Philippines, South Africa, and other areas. By considering the larger picture at multiple scales, and the needs of local parties concerned, we are providing an opportunity for the long-term resiliency of wildlife and human livelihood.