15 Dec 2016

Reinvesting in Caribbean nature conservation

Cuban Tody, a common but endemic species of Cuba © Sergey Uryadnikov
Cuban Tody, a common but endemic species of Cuba © Sergey Uryadnikov
By Irene Lorenzo

Assessing important sites for wildlife and identifying major threats is essential to prioritize conservation work. This is why BirdLife is collaborating on a new analysis to profile the Caribbean region - an opportunity for grassroots organizations to get much needed support to scale up their efforts.

As governments meet in the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Cancun, Mexico, the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) announced last week that it will lead a consortium to start a new Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) analysis in the Caribbean islands through the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).

KBAs are the new ‘gold standard’ for site conservation since their launch in September 2016, with top conservation players working together to follow globally consistent criteria recognised by international conventions. Over 18.000 KBAs have been identified so far and the analyses of the Caribbean islands aim to add even more sites to the World Database of Key Biodiversity AreasTM

The consortium includes CANARI, BirdLife, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the New York Botanical Garden and will produce an ecosystem profile, which will assess the biodiversity importance, conservation targets, major threats as well as the policy, civil society and socioeconomic context of the Caribbean islands.

The profiling will also identify funding gaps and opportunities and aims to involve everyone working in biodiversity conservation across the Caribbean islands such as governments and NGOs. Once the priorities have been identified, a funding plan will be developed to tackle the threats. BirdLife will lead the process and activities to determine the conservation outcomes.

“The development of the new ecosystem profile is an important opportunity for the Caribbean and Caribbean civil society,” remarked CANARI’s Executive Director, Nicole Leotaud. “Our region is one of the world's greatest centres of unique biodiversity and we have a chance to set an agenda for funding that will help civil society play its role in conserving biodiversity for the wellbeing of our people and livelihoods,” she added.

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Who has benefitted so far?

Already from 2010 to 2016, CEPF awarded US$6.9 million to support 77 small and large grants in eight Caribbean countries. In the summer of 2016, the new funding phase was approved, ready to start investing from 2017 until 2022.

BirdLife led the profiling process for the region back in 2009, defining the investments that CANARI then administered as the Regional Implementation Team.

CEPF is designed to safeguard Earth’s biologically richest and most threatened regions and their work is not confined to the Caribbean. BirdLife has just completed similar profiling work in the Mediterranean Basin hotspot.

Do you work in nature conservation in the Caribbean?

If you want to contribute to the profiling of the region, there will be a micro-site for everyone to access and comment made available by the end of the month - watch this space.

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a joint initiative 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. CEPF is a global program that provides grants to civil society to safeguard the world’s biodiversity hotspot.