Protecting Nature's Hotspots for people and prosperity

E-Newsletter March 2013

Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund
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E-Newsletter March 2013
in this issue:
Celebrate the International Day of Forests
Scripting an avian survival story
Lessons Learned: Fostering a sense of collective responsibility for effective biodiversity monitoring
Visit reveals hospitality and natural beauty of Saudi Arabia
Recently approved grants
New grantee resources
Forward this email to a colleague
About Us

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a joint program of l'Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank.

Celebrate the International Day of Forests
Taking place today, March 21, the International Day of Forests commemorates the contribution and value of forests and forestry to communities. Without forests, life on Earth would not exist – they are essential for clean air and water, are home to many populations of plants and animals and provide shade, shelter and jobs. In fact, 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Forests cover one-third of the earth’s land mass, but they are now at risk from widespread deforestation and degradation. Globally, 5.2 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. Click here to view an infographic with more facts on forests and land use. 

CEPF funds forest-supporting projects in multiple biodiversity hotspots, thereby helping reduce global greenhouse emissions, protect habitat for threatened species and support livelihoods and economies for people living within or near forests. Examples of such projects include:

  • In Tanzania, with CEPF support the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology has trained poor community members to farm, process and market butterflies, beetles, organic honey, medicinal plants and raw silk as alternatives to the exploitation of forest biodiversity. Area incomes have risen by 15 to 25 percent, and surpluses have benefited local school construction.
  • CEPF partner World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) helped the government of Bhutan create a nation-spanning "biological complex," a corridor of protected and sustainably used forests that are connected. The biological complex secures the habitat of tigers and many other species while also ensuring watershed protection for millions of people living downstream. 
  • In Armenia, CEPF helped NGO the Armenia Tree Project conduct a survey of forests remaining in the mountainous country and write a sustainable forestry training manual for community members, forestry students, conservationists and government officials. 

Join us in celebrating the International Day of Forests by visiting your local forests and learning more about the many contributions they make to our well-being.

Scripting an avian survival story
by Paula Amann

Imagine if everything you needed to live was vanishing faster than you could adapt. It’s come to this for the Cape parrot (Poichephalus robustus), an emerald-chested bird with orange-edged wings that makes its home in the Amathole Mountains of South Africa’s Eastern Cape.

This parrot faces the perils of the eco-specialist, as it carves a niche in the wooded patches that remain of this once-towering forest habitat. Largely dependent for fruits from and nesting on the overlogged yellowwood (Podocarpus) trees, the bird has seen its population plummet in recent decades to an estimated 1,000 or less, as it battles an epidemic of beak and feather disease.

Enter the iziKhwenene (pronounced “easy-kway-nay-nay”) Project, supported by CEPF, which takes its name from the Xhosa word for the Cape parrot. Launched by the Wild Bird Trust (WBT) and several partner groups, the project is enlisting the help of biologists, a local university, loggers and area residents in a multipronged effort to make this species a conservation success story.

“It’s going to be an intergenerational task,” said zoologist Rutledge “Steve” Boyes, director of WBT. “We really have to hold this species’ hand for the next 25 years.”

This race for survival is unfolding in a hiker’s paradise much like the Scottish Highlands, a rugged terrain laced with cliffs and waterfalls between the village of Hogsback and the German-founded town of Stutterheim, which bisects the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany biodiversity hotspot.

Top priority for the iziKhwenene Project? Boosting the parrots’ food supply. As a first step, the group has created the Cape Parrot Sanctuary in a pecan orchard once slated for the ax on the grounds of the University of Fort Hare, the alma mater of Nelson Mandela. Now, local women are planting windbreaks of wild plum around the orchard perimeter and harvesting nuts from the ground for bags of Cape Parrot-friendly pecans, with the proceeds from their sale split between the community and orchard maintenance. The project plans a similar partnership at another pecan orchard in nearby Cata.

To remedy the shortage of large yellowwood trees with suitable “snags,” or nesting cavities, the project participants are crafting 600 wooden nest boxes (with the aid of Rance Timber/Amathole Forestry Company) and mounting them in suitable places. Then families from nearby villages monitor the boxes for occupancy.

Boyes cites the growing “enthusiasm” of area Xhosa for helping to save the birds, once viewed as a crop pest. “The local villages have taken on the Cape parrot as an ambassador for the forest,” Boyes said. Four villages now take part in the project, and WBT aims to have eight to 12 involved by the end of 2013.

A third component of the project enlists area residents as “forest custodians” to nurture 25,000 yellowwoods, wild plums, wild olives, and other native species in local tree nurseries, then plant them in forest patches. A richer habitat could spell good news for other endangered species, such as the Hogsback chirping frog, the Amathole toad, the bush blackcap (a warbler), and the Samango monkey. Compensation flows to the community every six months for the hundreds of saplings that survive.

“It’s a model of engagement in an area where there had been political strife,” says Dan Rothberg, grant director for CEPF, noting the area’s grinding poverty (Amathole is the poorest district of South Africa’s poorest province). Indeed, the Eastern Cape confronts not only an anemic economy, but the scars of its bleak history—armed struggle between white settlers and the native Xhosa people, destruction of cattle herds, and forced relocations into apartheid-era “homelands.” Not surprisingly, leaders of the anti-apartheid movement, notably black-consciousness activist and martyr Stephen Biko, emerged from the region.

With the help of CEPF, the iziKhwenene Project is trying to write a fresh story with a hopeful ending for the Amathole Mountains, so its people, its Cape parrots, and its forest habitat can thrive once more.

Click here to learn more about the Cape Parrot Project.

Western Ghats
Lessons Learned: Fostering a sense of collective responsibility for effective biodiversity monitoring
Within three CEPF-identified corridors in Karnataka, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) carried out rigorous scientific monitoring to assess the status of several species and levels of conservation threats across 600,000 hectares of biodiversity-rich areas. The information collected during the project contributed to the expansion of protected areas in Karnataka by nearly 100,000 hectares.

"This project helped safeguard India's wildlife legacy be enabling capacity building and effective conservation action by individuals," said Samba Kumar, joint director of science and conservation with WCS.

The project also trained more than 500 volunteers from civil society groups, including local community volunteers, students and teachers, and 100 staff from the state forest department to enhance their technical capability to monitor and manage these biodiversity areas better. The enthusiasm and active participation in this training indicates the immense potential for the continued biodiversity monitoring.  

Click here to read the full lesson, including challenges and keys to success.

Eastern Afromontane
Visit reveals hospitality and natural beauty of Saudi Arabia
From the CEPF Blog
Click here to see the latest blog postings, including a recent post by Max Wright on mapping the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests of Tanzania and Kenya.
by Patricia Zurita, CEPF Executive Director

A couple of weeks ago I visited the amazing country of Saudi Arabia. CEPF, hosted by the Saudi Wildlife Authority and the King Khalid University, was launching our investment in the Arabian Peninsula. This investment, our first in the peninsula, is part of our conservation strategy​ for the Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot, a portion of which — the Arabian Highlands — is found in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

While planning my trip I couldn’t help but wonder how to speak about biodiversity, about CEPF’s role in protecting the richest and most threatened biological resources on Earth, in a place known for the sand dunes and plains of the Arabian Desert. Many people aren’t aware of the biological wealth that can be found in the Arabian Highlands. Located parallel to the coast of western Yemen and southwestern Saudi Arabia, the highlands are home to 110 species of plants that have only been found in this region. Seven bird species are unique to this part of the hotspot, such as the Yemen linnet, a species of finch. The area also is important for migratory birds, with an estimated 1.5 million storks and birds of prey using the highlands of the Arabian Peninsula and Ethiopia as a flyway each year.
After arriving in Saudi Arabia, however, both the welcoming nature of the people and their appreciation for their natural wonders gradually became clear. We landed in Riyadh on the 27th of January to meet the following day with His Highness Prince Bandar bin Saud bin Mohammad Al Saud, president of the Saudi Wildlife Authority (SWA). His Highness had generously agreed to host the launching of our portfolio in his country, and the SWA contributed environmental data and guidance for CEPF’s conservation strategy for the region, and we wanted to thank him in person for his support. Our encounter with the prince reassured me, as His Highness spoke passionately about his love for nature and strong commitment to protecting Saudi Arabia’s unique biodiversity.
Click here to read the full blog.

Indo-Burma and the Mediterranean Basin
Recently approved grants
CEPF call for proposals
CEPF currently has an active call for proposals in the Eastern Afromontane Hotspot. Visit the CEPF website for more information.
Indo-Burma Hotspot
Assessing the Status and Distribution of Eld’s Deer in Western Siem Pang Dry Dipterocarp Forest, Stung Treng Province
This is the first project ever in Western Siem Pang to survey population distribution of Eld's deer by using survey methods such as camera traps; interviewing elders, former hunters and foresters; and using line transect surveys. The Royal University on Phnom Penh (RUPP) project methodology was developed under consultation with a deer expert and guided by a deer advisor to make sure the survey will meet the overall expectations.

Mediterranean Basin Hotspot
Protecting Threatened and Endemic Species in Cape Verde: A Major Island Restoration Project
Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves will undertake the planning phase for the rehabilitation of Santa Luzia Island and establish biosecurity protocols with a view to the future translocation of the Critically Endangered Raso lark (Alauda razae). The project will engage the Cape Verde protected-area authorities and local fishing communities and explore the potential for ecotourism activities within the Santa Luzia Island Natural Reserve and the Brancos and Raso Islets Integrated Reserve.


Final Reports, Newsletters and Publications
New grantee resources
Grantee Publications

Indo-Burma Hotspot
The Status and Distribution of Freshwater Biodiversity in Indo-Burma, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), English (PDF - 24.3 MB). This report aims to address the knowledge gap and present the most up-to-date information on the distribution and extinction risk of freshwater species in all inland water ecosystems across the Indo-Burma Hotspot, and where appropriate, the reasons behind species declining status. A number of species for this report were assessed and mapped in the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot, with funding from CEPF.

Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot
Rapid Biodiversity Assessment of Upland Savai'i, Samoa, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), English (PDF - 4.93 MB). Funding to enable the Biological Rapid Assessment Program (BIORAP) survey came from CEPF and CEPF donor, Conservation International. This BIORAP was undertaken as part of the process to facilitate improved management of the forests and biodiversity of Upland Savai'i. The information in the report will be used to make better-informed decisions on the conservation management of the biodiversity in the area in conjunction with Savai'i land-owning communities, relevant government departments and other partners.

Status of Birds, Peka (flying foxes) and Reptiles on Niue Island, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), English (PDF - 2.42 MB). Funding for the survey came from CEPF, and additional support was received from CEPF donor, Conservation International. During 10-21 September 2012, quantitative surveys were carried out on birds and flying foxes, and searches carried out for a rare parrot and lizard. This report compares the results of these surveys with those from previous surveys, particularly for peka and lupe (a bird species), but also for other species, including lizards. The conservation of such keystone species is important because their loss may have major implications for the forest ecosystem.

Grantee Newsletters

Cape Floristic Region Hotspot
Cape Action for People and the Environment (C.A.P.E.) E-News, CAPE, March 2013, English (PDF - 712 KB)

WESSA at Work, The Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa, February 2013, English (PDF - 2.38 MB)

Guinean Forests of West Africa Hotspot
NAPA: News from African Protected Areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), March 2013, English (PDF - 866 KB), French (PDF - 1.29 MB)

Succulent Karoo Hotspot
Brown Hyena Research Project Newsletter, Brown Hyena Research Project, Issue 41, March 2013, English (PDF - 332 KB)

Final Project Reports

Guinean Forests of West Africa Hotspot
Ensuring Long-Term Sustainable Financing for Key Protected Areas in the Upper Guinean Forest Ecosystem, Conservation International, English (PDF - 78 KB)

Indo-Burma Hotspot
Freshwater Biodiversity Assessments in the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot: Fishes, Molluscs, Odonates and Plants, International Union for Conservation of Nature, English (PDF - 98 KB)

Photo Credits: Photo of children in Indonesia learning about the importance of national forest preservation, © Jessica Scranton; Photo of a Cape parrot, © Steve Boyes; Photo of a bull gaur in Nagarahole, © Samba Kumar, WCS; Photo of Patricia Zurita at Eastern Afromontane investment launch in Saudi Arabia, © CI/photo by Pierre Carret; Photo of Status of Birds, Peka (flying foxes) and Reptiles on Niue Island, © Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme 2012
Header Photo: Tim Fitzharris / Minden Pictures

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