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$1 million donation as Qatar joins the BirdLife Partnership

announcement at the opening ceremony of BirdLife’s 31st Global Council Meeting

Her Highness Sheika Jawaher Bint Hamad Bin Sahim al-Thani consort to the Heir Apparent of Qatar, has donated $1 million to establish a BirdLife fund to conserve birds and biodiversity, and to promote sustainable use of natural resources through site protection and management across the Middle East. Her Highness announced the donation during her address at the opening ceremony of BirdLife’s 31st Global Council Meeting, at the Virginia Commonwealth University, Qatar. During the Meeting, Qatar’s Friends of Environment Centre joined the BirdLife Partnership as the BirdLife Affiliate in Qatar.“Protection of birds is an integral part of protecting the environment”, HH Sheikha Jawaher said, adding that protecting the environment was one of the duties ordained to us by God. We in Qatar have been focusing on organising activities related to the safeguarding of our environment, so that we can achieve a harmony between nature and man”, she said.

This announcement was welcomed by BirdLife’s Chair, Dr. Peter Schei. “We are enormously thankful to HH Sheika Jawaher for her generous support, and excited about the prospect of growing and using this fund for the benefit of birds, other wildlife and people in the region and across the planet”.

Dr. Saif Al Hajari, President of the Friends of the Environmental Centre, said: “We are honoured to be part of BirdLife International, and we are looking forward to strengthening our collaboration with the regional and global Partnership. We will be delighted to learn from and share our experience with the many other BirdLife Partners across the world, who, like us, are committed to a better future where man can live in harmony with his environment.” Among other work, the fund will be used to establishhima, a traditional system with its roots in Islamic law, under which communities manage natural areas such as woodlands, grasslands and wetlands, and protect them from over-exploitation, for the benefit of biodiversity, people and livelihoods. BirdLife Partners in the Middle East have pioneered the revival of hima for the conservation of Important Bird Areas.

Assad Serhal - Director General of the Society for Protection of Nature in Lebanon, and the BirdLife Global Council Member for the Middle-East - who revived the hima approach, said: “this is an historical moment for the relaunch of the traditional hima approach, which uses community-based action to conserve sites in the Arab world”

Ibrahim Khader, Director of BirdLife in the Middle East, said: “The innovative environmental education programmes of the Friends of Environment Centre will be of great interest and inspiration to other Partner organisations of the BirdLife network.” Following the announcement of the fund, BirdLife is considering establishing a permanent office in Qatar, to support the development of the bird conservation programme of the Friends of the Environment Centre, and to co-ordinate its activities in the Gulf region.

Conservation organisations from two further countries in the Gulf region, Nature Iraq and Bahrain Natural History Society, were also welcomed to the Partnership during the Council meeting.

4th July 2014