MacArthur has announced 15 grants totaling nearly $4.5 million in support of conservation and sustainable development work in the Eastern Himalaya region in Southeast Asia and the Albertine Rift area of Central Africa.
Support for this work is made through the Conservation and Sustainable Development area of the Foundation's Program on Global Security and Sustainability. Grantmaking in the area focuses on the problems of endangered tropical ecosystems. These ecosystems are home to some of the world's most diverse natural systems and most precious species. All are facing rapid ecological decline. Pressures from local communities that depend upon the use of natural resources for survival and from governments encouraging commercial development in these regions - some of the world's most economically disadvantaged - are threatening the biological diversity of these focal areas.
The mission of the Foundation's work in the area of Conservation and Sustainable Development is to conserve the biological diversity of select focal areas in developing countries. The Foundation seeks to fulfill this mission by providing support to help create and manage protected areas, to increase the skills of local institutions and individuals, and by searching for ways to address the needs of local communities whose livelihoods depend upon, and seriously impact, natural resources.
"Human life depends upon the biological diversity that keeps ecosystems functioning in familiar ways," said Jonathan Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation. "We expect that by targeting areas where both biological diversity and the threat to its existence are high, we will help slow the process of decline and avoid extinction of some of the world's most vulnerable species."
The Foundation provides support for efforts in eight ecological focal regions around the world. They include: Madagascar, the Albertine Rift, and the Lower Guinean Forest in Africa; the Eastern Himalaya, the Lower Mekong, and Indo-Melanesia in Asia and the Pacific Rim; and the Tropical Andes and Insular Caribbean in South America and the Caribbean.
"Our greatest challenge is that our focal regions have long been home to human communities that are also struggling to survive," said Michael Wright, Director of the Conservation and Sustainable Development area of the Foundation's Program on Global Security and Sustainability. "As a result, we support work not only to conserve biodiversity, but strive to do it in a way that takes into account the precarious balance between the needs of local communities and those of the environment. We believe that we can only be successful when local organizations have a stake in - and are able to - sustain conservation efforts."
Grants made to support this work in Asia include:
A grant of $600,000 over three years was awarded to the Bhutan Program of the World Wildlife Fund to assist the Royal Government of Bhutan in developing a management system for the new Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary. The funding will help Bhutan set up a key protected area in the most remote area of the country.
The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, IL, received a grant of $480,000 over three years to train Bhutanese scientists and government technicians to identify, catalogue and analyze biological information. This information is expected to help the Bhutanese government in their decision-making around biodiversity and sustainable development issues.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Nature in Thimphu, Bhutan, received a grant of $180,000 over three years to strengthen the protection and management of the Phobjikha Conservation Area in central Bhutan. The Royal Government of Bhutan has created a protected area system that covers 35 percent of the country's land. This project will help develop guidelines and experience in local-level conservation management that can be replicated elsewhere in the country.
A grant of $350,000 over three years was awarded to the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development in Kathmandu, Nepal, to establish a series of natural corridors linking the protected areas of eastern Nepal, Sikkim, and western Bhutan. These corridors would incorporate eight protected areas in three countries and link 4,200 square miles of prime mountain habitat.
The Mountain Institute in Washington, DC, received a grant of $350,000 over three years to promote community participation in conservation management of the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area in eastern Nepal and Sikkim. Funds will be used to strengthen skills of those who live in the region to manage natural resources, to shift livelihoods towards those that benefit from conservation of the local environment, and to help build working relationships among communities in both Nepal and India to promote sustainable land use along the border of those two nations.
A grant of $345,000 over three years was made to the Nepal Program of the World Wildlife Fund to assist the Nepalese Government in establishing and managing the Kangchenjungu Conservation Area. The project seeks to strengthen conservation management in the area, help local communities develop sustainable land use skills, and improve regional conservation cooperation.
Inner Asian Conservation based in East Haven, CT, received a grant of $380,000 over three years to help improve management of existing protected areas and create new ones in Arunachal Pradesh state in Northeast India, the geographic center of the Eastern Himalaya region.
Community Forestry International, based in Santa Barbara, CA, received a grant of $180,000 over three years to help develop guidelines for regional community forestry policy in Northeast India. This would include designing and implementing a legal framework and devising strategies to facilitate community-based forest conservation in the area.
A grant of $85,000 over two years was made to the Conservation and Research Center Foundation in Front Royal, VA, to help develop a conservation strategy for Northeast India. The work, which will be based on surveys, rapid field assessments of biodiversity, gap analysis and threat mapping, will be carried out by researchers from the Smithsonian Institution with the help of local partner organizations in India. These collaborations will form the basis of a conservation alliance for the Eastern Himalayan region.
A grant of $50,000 was made to the Center for US-China Arts Exchange, based at Columbia University, to assist their collaborative efforts with the Government of Yunnan Province in China, the Field Museum and the Openlands Project to conduct a biodiversity assessment and to develop a sustainable management plan for the Gaoligongshan Nature Reserve.
Grants made in support of conservation and sustainable development work in Africa include:
The World Wide Fund for Nature in Nairobi, Kenya, received a grant of $300,000 over three years to help develop a regional strategic plan and monitoring system for the conservation of biodiversity in the Albertine Rift area. In preparation for carrying out the plan, the World Wide Fund for Nature will use part of the grant to provide financial and technical support to ARCOS - an indigenous regional nongovernmental organization. ARCOS will help strengthen the capacity of local groups working on conservation and sustainable development issues in the region. In a separate grant, the World Wide Fund for Nature received $300,000 over three years to help conserve the Virungaa, Kibira, and Nyungwe forests in the central part of the Albertine Rift, an area that has been badly affected by civil unrest in the region. The grant will be used to work with park management authorities and communities adjacent to the park on sustainable uses of the park area and its resources.
A $300,000 grant over three years was awarded to the African Wildlife Foundation to help advance landscape conservation efforts, develop income generating projects that use natural resources in a sustainable manner, and improve local conservation management efforts in the Virguna-Bwindi ecosystem.
The Wildlife Conservation Society was awarded a grant of $300,000 over three years to help reduce hunting and trade in wildlife in the protected areas within the Albertine Rift countries of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The grant will be used to evaluate which strategies have been most effective in reducing the threat to wildlife in these forested areas.
A grant of $270,000 over three years was awarded to the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) to help strengthen the legal frameworks for biodiversity conservation in the Albertine Rift. The grant will be used to train judges and lawyers in environmental law, to begin a process of building an environmental law program at the Faculty of Law at Makerere University in Uganda, and to research and develop legal frameworks for conservation in the region.