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Feature Story

How Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund grantees are protecting biodiversity

June 4, 2020

Birds flying at a protected nature area
New protected area Ulcinj Salina, Montenegro. Photo: CZIP

The Global Environment Facility is a founding donor of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), which was formed in 2000 to champion biodiversity by delivering the financial resources of global donors to build the capacity of civil society groups in biodiversity hotspots. These groups often work with limited resources to have impressive impacts to protect biodiversity on the ground. Despite the challenges of this time, many of these groups continue to work diligently to protect biodiversity.

CEPF has funded more than 2,400 grantees in 98 countries and territories in 24 of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. That represents a lot of conservation effort. But what are the results?

The annual CEPF Impact Report helps tell the story of what grantees have achieved so far. Through analysis of project data gathered from CEPF’s first grants through the end of fiscal year 2019 (June 30, 2019), the organization uses 16 indicators to monitor its conservation progress. The reporting is organized by the four categories, or “pillars,” of CEPF’s work: biodiversity, civil society, human well-being, and enabling conditions.

The publication also shares some of the latest, most compelling stories from its grantees around the globe who are out there day to day, implementing conservation strategies, helping communities and governments, and building their own expertise to support biodiversity and provide leadership.

Despite the myriad challenges CEPF grantees face, they are making an important difference. Here are just a few highlights:

Directly supporting 882 globally threatened species

Habitat protection, species monitoring, patrolling, invasive species removal—these are just some of the ways CEPF grantees are taking direct action to protect globally threatened species.

One example of species impact is the work of Wallacea Biodiversity Hotspot grantees Perkumpulan Sampiri on Sangihe Island and Yayasan IDEP Selaras Alam and partners on Talaud Island to conserve the endangered red-and-blue lory (Eos histrio). The bird’s bright colors make it a target for wildlife trafficking.

Red-and-blue lory
Red-and-blue lory. Photo: IDEP Foundation/Gede Sugiarta

The grantees raised local awareness of the value of the species and its habitat, worked with local authorities to monitor trade and halt hunting, and promoted environmentally friendly agricultural practices. The result: improved management of 2,157 hectares of protected forest on Sangihe and 6,720 hectares of agricultural buffer zone for a protected area on Talaud.

Helping gain formal protection for 15.1 million hectares of biodiverse ecosystems

CEPF tracks the hectares of ecosystems for which grantees have helped gain formal legal protections.

Fiscal year 2019 was an important year on this front, with some notable wins. They include:

  • Creation of the Intag Toisán Municipal Conservation and Sustainable Use Area in Cotacachi County, northwest Ecuador. Grantee Fundación Prodeci a Favor de los Derechos Ciudadanos engaged local communities and social and government entities in establishing the 108,959 hectare protected area that is rich in endemic species, rivers, watersheds, and forests and has been under threat from agricultural expansion, illegal logging, and large-scale mining. 
  • Protection for Ulcinj Salina, an important site in Montenegro for migratory birds. The Center for Protection and Research of Birds (CZIP) has been working for more than 15 years - with support from CEPF from 2013–2017 - to gain protection for the unique ecosystem formed from man-made salt pans. And in June 2019, the local parliament voted to declare the site a national protected area.

75 Indonesian organizations strengthened through a single grant

One of CEPF’s goals is to strengthen the civil society organizations working on conservation in the world’s biodiversity hotspots. Through its monitoring program, CEPF tracks the progress of each grantee organization on key elements of strong organizations at the start of the CEPF grant and the end. Out of 368 organizations that have completed their reporting cycles, 248 recorded an increase in organizational capacity (67%).

One impressive example of moving the dial occurred in the Wallacea Biodiversity Hotspot, where grantee Yayasan Penabulu was charged with helping to build up the knowledge and skills of emerging organizations through training sessions. The efforts were a success, with data showing that 75 CEPF grantees and other partners were strengthened through the project.

Through gender mainstreaming projects, more than 230 Brazilian women join forces

CEPF tracks the number of grantees who report gaining an improved understanding of and commitment to gender issues during their CEPF grants.

In the Cerrado Biodiversity Hotspot, grantees Action Aid and Ecologia e Ação (ECOA) have been working to address gender issues in the region, organizing groups of women in associations, cooperatives and networks. Over the past year, they orchestrated three meetings in the hotspot to discuss environmental conservation, climate change, gender and more.

Participants in "Women of the Cerrado" meeting held in Brasilia
Participants in "Women of the Cerrado" meeting held in Brasilia. Photo: Luana Campos ECOA

These meetings brought together more than 230 women and resulted in the preparation of two national documents: the letter of the first women’s meeting of the Cerrado and the manifesto for resistance of women in the Cerrado and the Pantanal.

Nearly 1,300 projects have promoted nature-based solutions to climate change

Projects that promote nature-based solutions to combat climate change are tracked through CEPF’s monitoring program, and through the end of fiscal year 2019, 1,295 projects were identified as falling into this category, including efforts related to climate adaptation, climate mitigation, ecosystem resilience, reforestation, and more.

A forest restoration project in Mauritius illustrates the impact such projects can have. The nation has one of the most threatened island floras in the world, with 89% of its endemic plant species considered at risk of extinction. Much of Mauritius’ fauna has also disappeared along with its forests. CEPF grantee Ebony Forest Ltd. has been working in the Ebony Forest Reserve since 2006 to address threats to fauna and flora, including invasive alien plants, habitat fragmentation, loss of genetic diversity among native species, the effects of climate change and the lack of community awareness regarding the importance of protecting ecosystems.

In response, Ebony Forest has conducted intensive habitat restoration, and have partnered with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation to reintroduce indigenous birds. They have weeded and maintained 16 hectares of forest and planted 22,982 native plants with help from local school children and corporations.

36 companies have adopted biodiversity-friendly practices

CEPF keeps track of the number of companies that adopt biodiversity-friendly practices via CEPF-funded projects. While CEPF only began gathering this data in 2017, the effort has revealed promising results, including:

  • Five companies collaborating with CEPF grantee the Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to promote and sell “protected-area friendly” agricultural products at three sites in Yunnan Province and Hainan Island in China.
  • Shiwi, a private social enterprise, working with grantee the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law to support a network of private protected areas through a successful strategy for marketing honey and brown sugar produced by the network.

CEPF grantees have contributed to seven of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and 10 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals

The Impact Report features a table of data that shows how CEPF grantees have contributed to these global goals. It includes figures such as:

  • 61 projects totaling $6.3 million in grants for projects focused on reducing wildlife trafficking contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land.
  • More than 60 coastal protected areas benefited from increased protection and management, contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water.
  • 31 active sustainable finance mechanisms for conservation that have been supported by CEPF, contributing to Aichi Biodiversity Target 20 on mobilization of financial resources.

There’s a lot more good news in the report about the progress made to date by CEPF’s grantees. Check it out and see why the GEF is proud to be a global donor to CEPF.

This piece was originally published by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.