– WWF, the global conservation organization, and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) today announced a $5 million investment program to pioneer new ways to conserve the immense natural wealth of the Eastern Himalayas region.
The program will provide grants for nongovernmental organizations, community groups and other sectors of civil society to help save the highest priority species, sites and landscapes for conservation in Bhutan, northeastern India and parts of Nepal. Call for proposals will be made in each of the three countries in early June.
The Eastern Himalayas harbor critical areas offering the greatest chance for long-term survival of tigers, Asian elephants and other globally threatened species. However, many of these species face extinction as a result of chronic over-use of natural resources, conversion of forests for agriculture and unsustainable wildlife trade. The consequences are especially severe where human population density is high.
“Unsustainable extraction of fuelwood, timber, and other forest products and large scale infrastructure development is creating fragmentation of wildlife habitats that is leaving less room for tigers and snow leopards to roam,” said Mingma Sherpa, the managing director of WWF’s Eastern Himalayas Program who will lead a WWF team to oversee implementation of the CEPF strategy in the region. “Human communities also share this habitat for their sustenance, so socioeconomic consequences are very real.”
The grant funding will be made possible by CEPF, 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. The Fund is designed to enable civil society to take part in biodiversity conservation alongside governmental partners in the world’s biologically richest yet most threatened ecosystems.
WWF developed the CEPF “ecosystem profile” and investment strategy for the Eastern Himalayas based on extensive research and stakeholder consultations organized by BirdLife International in collaboration with WWF, the Centre for Environmental Education and the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment.
Each grant awarded will help implement the strategic directions and investment priorities identified in the profile.
The organizations made the announcement as part of launching the new Regional Implementation Team led by WWF for CEPF investments in the Eastern Himalayas. The team will be responsible for the strategic implementation of the profile and for building a broad constituency of civil society groups working across institutional and geographic boundaries toward achieving shared conservation goals.
“Partnerships including government agencies, non-profit organizations, business firms, and local communities offer the best prospects for success in economic development that is sustainable,” said Dan Martin, senior managing director at the CEPF Secretariat at Conservation International’s headquarters in Washington DC. “Supporting such partnerships is key to the CEPF approach and conservation success.”