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Global Environment partners provide additional $20 million to protect endangered habitats

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 11, 2008) The World Bank and Conservation International (CI) today signed an agreement for $20 million in new funds, provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), to protect some of the worlds most unique and threatened areas, including island ecosystems and temperate forests.

These biodiversity hotspots are home to more than half of all terrestrial plants and animals, as well as more than 1.8 billion people who are highly dependent on healthy lands for their livelihoods and well-being.

The world's irreplaceable habitats, those which if lost locally will be gone globally, are mostly found in the biodiversity hotspots, said Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF. This initiative is aggressively building the local institutions and the capacity of developing countries to manage and benefit from these high priority places.

The funds will be made available as grants for projects undertaken by nongovernmental, community, and private sector organizations through the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), which is administered by CI. In its seven-year history, CEPF funding has enabled the protection of lands equal to an area the size of Portugal.

The new funding brings the total GEF commitment to the CEPF to $45 million. The money is pooled with contributions from CI and other global leaders in the partnership to create a biodiversity fund that unites expertise and resources to safeguard the hotspots. Other partners are the French Development Agency, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank.

All species and their habitats are important, said Warren Evans, World Bank Director of Environment. But some areas are more richly endowed than others. These new funds will help us continue to find solutions that allow poor people in these hotspots to have a better way of life while at the same time conserving the biodiversity on which their long-term survival depends.

Biodiversity hotspots where projects will be funded include fragile island ecosystems in the remote Pacific island nations of Micronesia, Polynesia and Fiji, and the diverse landscapes of the Caribbean Islands and Mediterranean Basin. The forests along the east coast of southern Africa, which harbor the highest diversity of tree species of any temperate forest on the planet, also will benefit.

At least 10 hotspots will receive CEPF funding for the first time, and grants also will help consolidate gains made in other hotspots that received previous CEPF investments.

This new funding represents a significant opportunity to scale up conservation efforts and make a difference where it matters most, said Jorgen Thomsen, CEPF Executive Director and CI Senior Vice President.


Contact: Tom Cohen
Conservation International

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