There are nearly 250 million people living on less than a dollar a day in Earth's most biologically rich and threatened places. That’s why conservation must be about improving human welfare just as much as it is about protecting the environment.
CI and KfW Sign Memorandum of Understanding
Conservation International (CI) made a commitment today with KfW, the German-state owned development bank and a leading international donor, to make future progress toward reducing global poverty and conserving biodiversity. The Memorandum of Understanding between CI and KfW outlines cooperation on projects that will finance the creation and management of protected areas and payment for ecosystem services, and assist countries in better planning and management of large-scale landscapes and natural resources.
CI and KfW also agreed to explore conservation approaches that elicit greater participation from local and indigenous communities in South America and Africa.
The shared objectives are directly aligned with United Nations Millennium Development Goals to boost environmental sustainability while cutting poverty rates in half by the year 2015. Declared at a U.N. summit in 2000, meeting these ambitious goals requires close partnerships among governments, environmental organizations, and local communities.
Healthy Ecosystems Support Healthy People
Where people and the conservation of habitats and species are concerned, CI’s work is guided by research from the Human Dimensions Program in its Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS). Scientists analyze socioeconomic factors in places where CI works to understand how local communities live and on what resources they depend. The information is then used to identify conservation strategies that are most likely to be suitable to conditions on the ground.
With one billion people worldwide lacking access to safe drinking water today, the link between human welfare and the environment has never been more evident. Healthy ecosystems provide people with vital natural resources, such as freshwater, fertile soil, clean air, crop pollination, and much more. But deforestation is contaminating watersheds and destroying the biodiversity rural people rely on for their food, health, and sustenance.
“While conservation may not be able to eradicate poverty, it can help prevent and reduce poverty by maintaining ecosystem services and supporting livelihoods,” says Keith Alger, vice president of CABS Human Dimensions Program.
Communities, Wildlife in Hotspots Will Benefit
Recent collaboration between CI and KfW has focused on enabling economic development and conservation to go hand-in-hand, particularly in countries where wildlife is most threatened. In biodiversity hotspots, such as Madagascar, the partners will provide reliable, long-term funding for the creation and management of protected areas that will ensure vital ecosystem services for local communities.
One protected area in Madagascar that will benefit from funding is the Makira Forest, where the introduction of environmentally friendly agricultural techniques to farmers has allowed them to better irrigate the lowland rice fields and produce higher yields without having to clear more land. Protection of the Makira Forest also has brought new jobs to local villages, whose members manage and patrol the area.
Another region where growing economic and political instability threatens stunning biodiversity is the Caucasus Biodiversity Hotspot. People are clearing forests for fuel wood, and illegal wildlife hunting and plant collecting are on the rise. The Caucasus Protected Areas Fund – established in March by CI, KfW, and the World Wide Fund for Nature – will help raise $50 million to cover operating costs for protected areas in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The fund is also designed to ensure future investment in conservation for nations in this region facing acute economic stress.
“Conserving Earth's rich biodiversity is fundamental to achieving sustainable development and helping reduce poverty,” says CI Chief Conservation and Science Officer Gustavo Fonseca.