2015 Highlights

Incorporating biodiversity into development
planning and policy

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It is not like once this project is done we will say that is the end. This project has rather allowed us to take the first step in the areas of mining, environment, nature and so on. It is something very important for government agencies, NGOs and the private sector in the future.

Chantal Shalukoma, Horizon Nature

Maintaining biodiversity and vital ecosystems is essential to sustainable societies. CEPF helps NGOs work with governments to establish policies or laws that incorporate conservation concerns into development decisions.

Western Ghats and Sri Lanka Biodiversity Hotspot

The Western Ghats Region, along India’s southwest coast, comprises some of the oldest mountains on Earth, and is home to at least 325 globally threatened species, including numerous plants, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish. More than 250 regionally threatened plant species are found only there. The area is also experiencing a tremendous increase in economic development and population.

Recognizing the need for a coordinated effort to protect the area’s unique biodiversity, CEPF grantee Care Earth Trust supported the drafting of guidelines for a new “Special Area Development Programme,” aimed at building a more systematic approach to conservation and development planning.

Care Earth Trust gathered input from communities, local governments and researchers, as well as lessons learned and good practices from CEPF’s eight-year investment in the state, and shared this information with officials developing the program.

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After three years of hard work, the program was adopted as an official directive of the state government, with an annual budget of US$11 million—more than 10 times the average annual CEPF investment during its Western Ghats program.

“I greatly appreciate the fact that as a donor entity, CEPF was rather different,” said Care Earth Trust’s Jayshree Vencatesan. “There was no hard selling of a predetermined agenda, which made it easy for entities like us to pursue the goals with confidence.”

Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot

In Eastern and Central Africa, the rapid development of the mining sector and weak enforcement of environmental laws have caused tremendous devastation in both protected and unprotected natural areas. To address these problems, CEPF grantee Horizon Nature has worked with government agencies and local NGOs in the South Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo to improve the status of Kahuzi Biega National Park, a World Heritage Site that UNESCO lists as being “In Danger.” The park is home to Endangered eastern lowland gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri), and a recently completed count shows an 87 percent decrease in the gorilla population in and around the park since 1994.

Horizon Nature has been mapping and making baseline assessments of mining activities around the park, and established a network of leaders from both inside and outside the government that holds frequent discussions. Horizon Nature regularly produces radio programs in order to reach a large audience in South Kivu and share mining practices that are compatible with environmental protection. Horizon Nature also compiled the country’s mining laws, which it shares in an easy-to-read brochure and website.

Caribbean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot

Jamaica’s Portland Bight Protected Area is home to more than 20 globally threatened species, including seven species found nowhere else on Earth. Its rich waters and unique vegetation also provide income and food for some 4,000 fishermen and women.

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The Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM) had been at work on a management plan for Portland Bight in August 2013 when the Jamaican government announced plans to allow the China Harbour Engineering Company to build a massive shipping port in the Goat Islands section of Portland Bight.

C-CAM contracted economists from the Conservation Strategy Fund to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of four alternative sites for the port. The analysis found that the Goat Islands were not the best site for the project from an engineering, environmental or economic perspective.

“It was impactful to have that report,” said C-CAM Executive Director Ingrid Parchment. “It raised our profile and helped people to know what Portland Bight and the Goat Islands are.”

The report became the springboard of a successful advocacy campaign, including a town hall meeting attended by more than 250 people and broadcast live on national TV and radio. CEPF grantee Jamaica Environment Trust made videos and posted them to YouTube, reaching thousands of viewers around the world.

The story was picked up by more than 300 international media outlets, including the BBC, CNN and the New York Times. Report summaries were also delivered to all 63 members of the Jamaican Parliament.

As of early 2016, the port project seemed to have been put on hold. No further government announcements had been made on the matter, and the newly elected national leaders pledged to continue protecting the area.

Photo Credits

Gaur (Bos gaurus) among tea plants, Tamil Nadu, India. © O. Langrand
Tamil Nadu, India. © Muthu Karthick Nagarajan
Resident of Old Harbour Bay, Jamaica. © Robin Moore