The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), an innovative grant-making mechanism that aims to protect Earth’s most biologically rich yet threatened areas, has awarded its 100th Indo-Burma grant ahead of International Day for Biological Diversity. IUCN is leading the second phase (2013-2018) of CEPF’s funding work in the Indo-Burma region, working together with the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, and the Myanmar Environment Rehabilitation-Conservation Network to form the CEPF Regional Implementation team (RIT). CEPF Indo-Burma II is a US$ 10.4 million, five-year investment, for the conservation of biodiversity in Cambodia, Lao P.D.R., Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and China.
CEPF’s 100th grant recipient is international conservation NGO Wildlife Conservation Society. The organisation received USD$ 300,000 to implement a project to establish and pilot a payment for ecosystem services (PES) model in the Lao PDR. The project, which focuses on central Lao PDR, aims to identify PES best practices, pilot PES implementation, and engage government departments, development agencies, and other key stakeholders to strengthen the effectiveness of policy engagement for PES reforestation and forest protection schemes.
Encompassing more than two million square kilometres of tropical Asia, Indo-Burma is one of the most threatened of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots. Only 5% of its natural habitat remains in relatively pristine condition.
Since its launch in 2013, CEPF Indo-Burma II has awarded 114 grants (59 large, 55 small), with a total value of US$ 10.3 million to 79 different grantees including 53 local groups. These projects have improved conservation of 45 priority threatened species, empowered communities to engage in conservation and management of twenty four key biodiversity areas, and supported 14 initiatives mainstreaming biodiversity, communities and livelihoods into development planning for priority corridors.
This year’s theme for International Day for Biological Diversity is “Mainstreaming Biodiversity; Sustaining People and their Livelihoods”. In line with its strategic directions "Empower local communities to engage in conservation and management of priority key biodiversity areas" and "Engage key actors in mainstreaming biodiversity, communities and livelihoods into development planning in the priority corridors", CEPF Indo-Burma II has awarded grants with a value of over USD$ 1.7 million to projects that address livelihood issues.
Examples of such projects include the establishment of Fish Conservation Zones (FCZ) in Cambodia and Lao PDR. FCZs aim to prohibit fishing in designated areas, such as important spawning areas, and to apply other conventional management techniques so as to reverse fisheries decline and sustain ecosystem processes. As a result of this protection, many FCZs have more, bigger and a greater diversity of fish, which has translated into higher incomes for communities.
IUCN and CEPF’s experience from the past decade has shown that focused investments that enable civil society to lead highly strategic conservation activities achieve results. “Central to CEPF’s sustainability strategy is an explicit focus on capacity building for local and national civil society through partnerships, networks and mentoring,” said James Tallant, Senior Programme Officer, Species for IUCN Asia and CEPF RIT Manager. “IUCN and CEPF will focus on empowering communities and building supportive networks of civil society organisations at local, national and regional levels.”
In the coming months, the CEPF RIT will continue to contract the 2015 round of small grants, conduct Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation missions, and complete the review process for Letters of Inquiry recently submitted for work in Myanmar. The team is anticipating issuing the next call for proposals towards the middle of the year.