Important Biodiversity Areas In Colombia, China Designated World Heritage Sites
Washington, D.C. - Conservation International (CI) congratulates the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on designating two important biodiversity areas as World Heritage sites.
At its recent meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, UNESCO unanimously endorsed the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary in China and the Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary in Colombia as two of eight new World Heritage sites.
The Malpelo sanctuary is part of a marine biological corridor with the Galapagos, Cocos and Coiba Islands World Heritage sites that comprises the largest no-fishing zone in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. Located some 500 kilometers (300 miles) off the coast of Colombia, it includes Malpelo island and the surrounding marine environment totaling 857,150 hectares.
Malpelo provides critical habitat for internationally threatened marine species, and is a major source of nutrients resulting in large aggregations of marine biodiversity, particularly sharks, giant grouper and billfish. It is one of the few places in the world where the short-nosed ragged–toothed shark has been sighted.
Conservation International (CI) actively supports the Malpelo sanctuary through resources from the Global Conservation Fund, United Nations Foundation, the Walton Foundation, Fondo para Acción Ambiental y la Niñez FPAA (Fund for Environmental Action and Childhood), Armada de Colombia, MAVDT (Ministerio de Ambiente Vivienda y Desarrollo Territorial), and UAESPNN (Colombia National Parks).
“It took a joint effort by government and non-government organizations, both domestic and international, to achieve this very special designation for Malpelo,” said Fabio Arjona, executive director of CI in Colombia. “We now have a great responsibility as a nation to conserve this natural World Heritage site.”
Most recently, CI-Colombia, Fundación Malpelo, Colombian National Parks, and the Colombian Navy refurbished a seized fishing boat that will patrol Malpelo with a Navy captain and crew to combat illegal fishing and conduct research such as monitoring daily movement of hammerhead sharks.
The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary, a 924,500 hectare area that includes seven nature reserves and nine scenic parks in the Qionglai and Jiajin Mountains, is home to more than 30 percent of the world's Endangered giant pandas. It is the largest remaining contiguous area of panda habitat in the world, and the most important source of giant panda for a captive breeding population of the species.
The snow leopard, clouded leopard, golden monkey and red panda are other threatened species living in the sanctuary, which is one of the botanically richest sites of any temperate region in the world.
Lu Zhi, the head of CI’s China program and part of the team of Chinese experts that campaigned for World Heritage status for the panda sanctuary, noted that CI and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund supported the nomination with expertise and resources.
She said CI will continue to help manage the sanctuary by assessing biodiversity in unstudied areas and the impact of nearby development projects; training staff; monitoring the effectiveness of conservation efforts; designing and establishing corridors to other panda habitats; and promoting public awareness as part of the Green Olympics campaign for the Beijing Games in 2008.
"We congratulate the Chinese government and people for their commitment and hard work in panda conservation," Lu said.
The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a joint initiative of Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank. As one of the founding partners, CI administers this global grant-making program that seeks to enable conservation action by partners and build capacity for sustainability. CEPF has provided support to more than 600 partners working to conserve biodiversity hotspots, the Earth’s biologically richest and most endangered regions.