During a year in which Conservation International (CI) refocused our mission to ensuring the well-being of humanity through the protection of nature, hundreds of employees and thousands of partners worked tirelessly to advance the long-term protection of the ecosystems on which we all rely.
As we approach another busy year, we wanted to share some of those successes – achievements only possible due to the support of CI’s generous donors like you.
Making an impact in Copenhagen
Climate change has been called the greatest environmental issue of our time, and for years, major efforts have focused on December’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Copenhagen. After much preparation by governments, communities and other stakeholders (including CI), the event took place through the 18th of this month – and CI played an important role.
Though the long-term implications of the negotiations are still being determined, one result is clear: the protection of forests and the link between ecosystems and climate change adaptation have become central elements of the global climate change conversation. CI’s scientific, field and policy work has been fundamental in achieving this progress.
CONFERENCE: COP15 at Copenhagen, Denmark
Coral Triangle Initiative highlights expansion of marine protection in critically important regions
Last May, the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) was created in a monumental collaboration designed to improve ocean health and protect food security for millions of coastal residents in the Asia-Pacific region. The initiative promotes large-scale seascape management, strengthens the region’s network of marine protected areas (MPAs), improves fisheries, protects threatened species and helps the countries adapt to the effects of climate change.
CTI was established by the leaders of six nations—Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste—and other partners, including CI, the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy and the governments of the U.S. and Australia. CI scientists and advisors will continue to provide expertise and support as the CTI develops new projects to sustain coral reefs, fisheries and human livelihoods.
READ MORE: Connecting the Dots for Fisheries
Other great marine successes include:
- The signing of a “sister site” agreement between the Phoenix Islands Protected Area and Hawaii’s Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which together encompass 25 percent of the world’s MPAs
- The creation of the Cassurubá Marine Protected Area in Brazil’s Abrolhos region
- The creation of new MPAs in Costa Rica and Panama
As many as 100 new species discovered in Papua New Guinea alone—and more around the world
CI is using these discoveries—and the insights they provide about ecosystem health—to advocate for the protection of these species, their habitats, and the multiple benefits they provide for all life on Earth.
Since CI’s inception, Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) surveys have been the backbone of our field work, sending teams of scientists from CI and partner organizations to jungles, mountains and islands across the globe in search of new species and to collect data to guide conservation efforts.
Our RAP expeditions continued this year with more remarkable discoveries: in Colombia’s mountainous Tacarcuna area, 10 new amphibian species; 12 species believed to be new to science in Ecuador’s Nangaritza region; and as many as 100 new plant, insect, spider and amphibian species in the remote Muller Range of Papua New Guinea.
IN PHOTOS: Discovering Species in Nagaritza, Ecuador
GALLERY: A Wealth of Amphibians in Colombia
Groundbreaking partnership between Guyana and Norway telegraphs major gains for forest protection
In a major success for climate change mitigation, the Norwegian government agreed to commit up to $250 million over the next six years for the protection of Guyana’s tropical forests.
This funding will support REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation “plus” conservation) field demonstrations. Over the years, CI has worked with the government to establish an ambitious Low Carbon Development Strategy, a plan which has laid much of the foundation for this new agreement. This ground-breaking deal is just one example of CI’s involvement in the development of national forest carbon plans: similar discussions in Suriname, Liberia and Colombia are also underway.
Supporting a greater voice for indigenous peoples and local communities
CI headquarters hosted the first meeting of the Indigenous Advisory Group (IAG) this November, bringing together indigenous experts from around the world to discuss common problems and potential solutions to the effects of climate change. Both at headquarters and through regional teams, CI also supported the successes of other indigenous peoples by facilitating the creation of several new parks that implement local management to conserve vital ecosystems for biodiversity and human well-being.
- In April, hundreds of indigenous villagers came together to celebrate the creation of the YUS Conservation Area (the country’s first national conservation area - named for the Yopno, Uruwa and Som rivers) on Papua New Guinea’s Huon Peninsula.
- In Colombia’s Apaporis River region, CI and the Gaia Amazonas Foundation joined indigenous leaders to help them work with the National Parks Unit to declare the Yagojé Apaporis indigenous reserve as the country’s first indigenous cultural national park. Now, indigenous communities can continue to sustainably manage their territory, protect sacred sites, control extractive industries and take greater control of their future.
- In Guatemala, CI and partners designed a National Strategy for the Management and Conservation of Natural Resources on Communal Lands. Now officially approved, the Strategy sets the stage for creation of a new category of protected area specifically under indigenous management.
These efforts reflect the important role that indigenous peoples and traditional practices play in the field of conservation.
FEATURE: Raising Voices
New TEAM partnership maximizes impact of CI’s cutting-edge science
By connecting networks of tropical field stations and standardizing data collection, CI's Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network uses cutting-edge science to revolutionize the way we quantify ecosystem services and to understand the impacts of climate change.
Supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, TEAM will continue to develop a framework and methodology for monitoring ecosystem services that can help inform agricultural development in Africa.
U.S. and Indonesia agree to largest-ever debt for nature swap
This June, in the largest ever “debt for nature swap” under the U.S. Tropical Forest Conservation Act, the U.S. government agreed to forgive $20 million in debt from Indonesia. This money will instead be invested in an eight-year trust expected to grow to $30 million in grants for forest conservation and restoration projects on the island of Sumatra.
PRESS RELEASE: U.S. to Forgive $30M Debt to Protect Sumatra's Forests
The projects will help secure local livelihoods, as well as protect unique and iconic species like the Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) and orangutan (Pongo abelii)—all while curbing Sumatra’s massive deforestation rate and keeping greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. CI and Indonesian partner organizations provided financial support for the agreement, and CI’s Global Conservation Fund helped negotiate the deal.
Securing Madagascar’s success despite adversity
It’s been a tough year for the people of Madagascar; a political coup led to the near absence of law enforcement, allowing poachers to exploit natural resources without fear of consequence. In just one example from the many communities where CI and our partners work, outsiders entered community-run lands and poached lemurs for the bushmeat trade. Through this period of instability, not only has CI upheld its presence in Madagascar, but we have also appealed to international governments and organizations, urging that they maintain their efforts in the country as well. In the face of many challenges, there has never been a more crucial time to conserve Madagascar’s resources.
PRESS RELEASE: The pillage of Madagascar – the International Community must act now
Disney makes major donation to protect essential forests and sequester carbon
In November, the Walt Disney Company made the largest single corporate contribution ever towards reducing emissions from deforestation, committing up to $7 million for demonstration activities around the world.
Of this pace-setting sum, $4 million will go toward CI activities that avoid deforestation, reforest degraded lands and improve local forest management in the Tayna and Kisimba-Ikobo Community Reserves in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and the Alto Mayo conservation project in Peru. The other $3 million will fund activities through Disney’s other partners, The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund.
ARTICLE: Disney's Commitment to REDD
Team Earth calls for action on climate change
In a jaw-dropping event in New York City’s Greeley Square, CI used a variety of means to draw attention to the plight of the world’s forests and promote global action against climate change.
World-renowned origami artist Dr. Robert J. Lang constructed, and then destroyed, an origami forest as a metaphor for the inherent beauty, complexity and fragility of our world’s forests. An impressive panel of public figures—including President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana, Harrison Ford and business executives from some of the world’s biggest corporations—took the stage to voice their support for progressive action on the development of an international REDD+ mechanism. Partners as diverse as the ePals student network and The Prince’s Rainforest Project also joined in.
The event also served as the official launch of Team Earth, a unifying online platform designed to rally collaborative action on the biggest challenges of our time. Large-scale action is only possible when governments, businesses and organizations join forces; this commitment will hopefully spur others to follow suit.
All of these achievements represent the culmination of CI’s expertise, determination and commitment to partnership. And they all depend on you. Truly, it is the wealth of nature that sustains us all. Thank you for your continued support.
READ MORE: Forest Carbon Plan Pays Off