New Investment Gives Hope for Hundreds of Threatened Species in Tanzania and Kenya

6/14/2004

Support to Build Community Participation in Conservation Efforts

Nairobi, Kenya - The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and four East African organizations today announced a US$7 million investment strategy aimed at conserving the rich natural resources of the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests of Tanzania and Kenya.

The CEPF investment will enable civil society to take action to safeguard the region, recognized as one of the world's most important biodiversity hotspots. The strategy includes a special focus on the important linkages between people and conservation, with support for projects to enable local populations to both directly participate in and benefit from conservation efforts.

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.

"The investment brings urgently needed resources to help us ensure that these precious resources are properly managed in step with sustainable development," said Nike Doggart of the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group, which will coordinate CEPF investments together with BirdLife International, the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and the WWF-Eastern Africa Regional Programme Office.

The Eastern Arc Mountains and the Coastal Forests of Tanzania and Kenya have at least 1,500 species of plants and 50 species of reptiles found nowhere else on Earth. Other wildlife unique to this area include 21 species of African violet, the Zanzibar red colobus monkey, the Rondo galago and the Aders' duiker.

The hotspot extends for 900 km along the East African coast from the Kenya-Somalia border in the north, to the Tanzania-Mozambique border in the south. In Tanzania, the hotspot stretches inland to include the Pare, Usambara, Nguru, Rubeho, Uluguru and Udzungwa Mountains, as well as forests throughout the coastal zone such as Ruvu South, Pande and the lowland Usambaras. It also includes the islands of Zanzibar. In Kenya, the hotspot includes the Taita Hills, the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, the Tana River Forests and the Shimba Hills as well as the many sacred forests or "kayas".

In Tanzania, water flowing from the Eastern Arc forests is the source of 90 percent of the country's hydroelectric power, the nation's main source of electrical power. The forests are also the source of water for major cities, including Dar es Salaam, Tanga and Morogoro.

The Eastern Arc forests in both Tanzania and Kenya once covered over 23,000 km2. However, only a maximum of 5,340 km2 remained as of the mid-1990s. More recent estimates place the remaining forest cover as low as 2,000 km2. Clearance for agriculture and timber harvesting are the main threats to these forests.

However, only an estimated 5,340 km2 remain. Clearance for agriculture and timber harvesting are the main threats to these forests.

"Placing locally based leaders at the heart of our strategy is key to our approach," said John Watkin, CEPF grant manager for Africa. "Our new partnership will focus on people and science, helping ensure CEPF investments involve communities and a wide array of organizations for long-term success."

The organizations made the announcement as part of launching the new CEPF Coordination Unit comprised of the four organizations at a meeting at ICIPE in Nairobi today. This was followed by a meeting of the Project Steering Committee, which includes representatives of government and civil society in Tanzania and Kenya.

Other related activities that are taking place this month include meetings for civil society and government representatives in Mombasa, Tanga, Dar es Salaam and Morogoro. These meetings will draw together civil society organizations and government to discuss the way forward for the CEPF process.

CEPF's investments will be guided by an "ecosystem profile" that was compiled in 2003 by ICIPE with input from more than 70 experts including scientists, government staff and nongovernmental organizations from the two countries. The ecosystem profile outlines five strategic funding directions with associated investment priorities. Each of the projects supported by CEPF must contribute to achieving at least one of the strategic directions.

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The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund aims to dramatically advance conservation of the Earth's biologically richest and most threatened areas in developing countries. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.

BirdLife International is a global Partnership of autonomous NGOs, supported by a large grassroots membership, who choose to work together to conserve biodiversity through shared priorities, programmes and actions. The BirdLife Partners in the Eastern Arc and Coastal Forests hotspot are NatureKenya and the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania.

The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology is an advanced research institute, which seeks solutions to arthropod-related issues of the third world countries. As part of its integrated biodiversity conservation approach, ICIPE addresses problems that lead to forest destruction and loss, and at the same time looking at opportunities for commercialization and marketing of biodiversity products.

The Tanzania Forest Conservation Group works to promote the conservation of the high biodiversity forests in Tanzania.

The WWF-Eastern Africa Regional Programme Office works to stop the degradation of the natural environment in Eastern Africa and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.