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BirdLife in Indochina leads project

Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund $9.5 million

Indochina has an impressive geographic diversity, which supports a wide variety of habitats and high overall biodiversity. But only 5% of the original habitat remains, and these tiny fragments are threatened by human pressure and large-scale development. Immediate action is required to save these habitats and their unique species.

Now a major $9.5 million, five-year investment in Indochina has been launched, aiming to conserve biodiversity by engaging and building the capacity of civil society organisations. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot is a collaboration between CEPF and BirdLife International.

“We have worked closely with CEPF over a number of years to realise this exciting new project, and we are delighted to have now reached the point of implementation”, said Jonathan Eames, Programme Manager of BirdLife International in Indochina. “The mobilisation of CEPF for this region will at last provide an important source of funding for civil society to address the daunting array of challenges biodiversity faces.” CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation. CEPF will provide grants enabling non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community groups, private sector entities and others to help conserve biodiversity. BirdLife International in Indochina will act as the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) for CEPF.

Conservation activities targeted for grants by CEPF will be those with funding gaps, including efforts to safeguard globally threatened species, developing locally-led approaches to site-based conservation, and engaging key stakeholders in reconciling biodiversity conservation and development objectives.

Work will focus on two large landscapes - the Northern Highlands Limestone Corridor, bordering China and Vietnam, and the Mekong River and Major Tributaries Corridor, which stretches across Cambodia, Lao P.D.R. and Thailand, and represents the best examples of Indochina’s remaining riverine ecosystems. Within these landscapes, 28 key biodiversity areas are particular priorities for CEPF funding.Sixty-seven animal species and all the region’s 248 globally threatened plant species will also be priorities for investment more widely across Indochina.

As the Regional Implementation Team for CEPF in this region, BirdLife in Indochina will provide strategic leadership and effective coordination of CEPF investment. BirdLife will convert the plans in the ecosystem profile into a cohesive portfolio of grants that exceed in impact the sum of their parts, by raising awareness of CEPF among potential grantees, encouraging strategic alliances among potential grantees, helping potential grantees to develop proposals, making small grants, jointly making decisions on large grants with the CEPF Secretariat, and supporting and monitoring implementation of funded projects with grantees. BirdLife will engage other stakeholders in overseeing CEPF implementation, by establishing national advisory groups and technical review groups.

BirdLife’s RIT team has already approved the first two small grants. The Harrison Institute will receive $20,000 to carry out field research to assess the status and distribution of Wroughton's Free-tailed Bat Otomops wroughtoni in Chhep District, Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia. This species is known only from two sites in India, and one record in Cambodia. Workshops and targeted media outreach will aim to build capacity of communities, students and conservationists in bat research and conservation, and raise awareness of the important role bats play in ecosystems.The Missouri Botanical Garden has received nearly $5,000 to support 20 junior botanists and students from Vietnam to attend the first international symposium on the Flora of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This will help build a strong network of academics, researchers, conservation professionals and institutions to generate scientific knowledge and baseline data for sound decision-making on the conservation of threatened plant diversity in Indochina. CEPF has identified a major need to investigate the status and distribution of globally threatened plant species in the region.

This is a historic event for BirdLife in the region, because it marks the transition of BirdLife in Indochina from being solely a grant recipient, to an administrator of conservation funds. There is no doubt that the launch of CEPF is one of the most important events in the regional conservation arena in recent years.

4th July 2014