The World Wildlife Fund, 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.”

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CONTACT
Sarala Khaling,CEPF Regional Coordinator, tel. (+977) 01 4434820,  e-mail: sarala.khaling@wwfnepal.org
Lee Poston, Media Communications Director, WWF-US, tel. (+1) 202 778 9536, lee.poston@wwfus.org
Bobbie Jo Kelso, CEPF Secretariat, tel. (+1) 202 912 1415, b.kelso@conservation.org

The full CEPF ecosystem profile and investment strategy are available online at www.cepf.net/xp/cepf/where_we_work/eastern_himalayas/eastern_himalayas_info.xml.

WWF leads international efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats. WWF works in more than 100 countries around the globe to conserve the diversity of life on Earth. The organization has been on the ground in the Himalayas since 1971. (www.worldwildlife.org)

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund provides funding and technical assistance to enable civil society to help conserve Earth’s biologically richest and most threatened ecosystems known as biodiversity hotspots. (www.cepf.net). Its donor partners are:

  • Conservation International engages partners in more than 40 countries on four continents to preserve threatened ecosystems. The organization administers CEPF. (www.conservation.org)
  • The Global Environment Facility is the largest source of funding for the global environment. It brings member governments together with leading development institutions and others in support of a common global environmental agenda. (www.thegef.org
  • The Government of Japan is one of the world's largest providers of development assistance for the environment. Japan seeks constructive measures and concrete programs to preserve unique ecosystems that provide people with important benefits and help reduce poverty.  (www.env.go.jp/en/)

Conservation & Sustainable Development, Asia, Conservation