Threatened species receive game-changing funding boost

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Bengal tigers, black rhinos, coral reefs and mangroves could all receive game-changing support as the government’s Darwin Initiative has today received a £90 million boost – a tripling of funds – to protect international biodiversity.

Also announced today, a commitment for funding to tackle the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) of £30 million over three years to crackdown on the abhorrent illegal trade in animals and plants. New measures could include training rangers and border force agents, supporting legislative reform to increase conviction rates and penalties for wildlife crime, and helping communities to protect their wildlife.

A healthy environment is also essential to support people’s livelihoods. The poorest communities are significantly affected by environmental challenges and helping them flourish as well as protecting the environments they depend on is crucial. The funding uses UK Aid and will ensure that those communities benefit from the projects undertaken.

International Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith said:

The UK is taking the lead to conserve wildlife both at home and abroad, and we have committed to doubling our spending on climate change and focusing much of the extra money on nature protection and restoration.

Exactly one year on from our ground-breaking Illegal Wildlife Conference held in London, we are stepping up our efforts to protect international biodiversity and end wildlife crime around the globe.

We are facing a global crisis of biodiversity loss which requires a global solution, and today I am inviting projects from around the world to work with us to protect some of our best-loved species before it’s too late.

The UK government’s 25 Year Environment Plan committed to tackling the Illegal Wildlife Trade and enhancing nature, both at home and internationally.

Today’s announcement provides a breakdown of the £220 million package of investment announced by the Prime Minister last month to slow, stop and reverse biodiversity loss in some of the world’s most valuable habitats such as forests and mangroves, which provide a vital defence against flooding and habitats for species on the verge of extinction.

The UK is combating the illegal wildlife trade by addressing demand reduction, strengthening enforcement and criminal justice, and providing alternative livelihoods for people around the globe. This latest boost in funding will help strengthen existing work and allow more projects to be supported through our Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund and the Darwin Initiative to protect nature for generations to come.

Latest projects

The Darwin Initiative works with a range of partner organisations to deliver projects around the globe that deliver results for people and biodiversity. Fauna & Flora International have led more than 60 Darwin-funded projects.

Joanna Elliott, Senior Director for Conservation Partnerships, Fauna & Flora International, said:

Fauna & Flora International and our partners have been privileged to benefit from over 50 Darwin grants since this remarkable fund was launched 26 years ago, and the lasting legacy this support has left for the species, habitats and people we work with is truly phenomenal.

From the iconic elephants and rhinos of Africa to less well known, but no less important, species like saiga antelope and Madagascan baobabs, a huge range of wildlife has benefited from the funding provided by the Darwin Initiative. We’re delighted to hear the news of this significant expansion of the Darwin Initiative, and look forward to seeing the huge benefit that this will inevitably bring for our natural world.

Background information:

The Prime Minister said:

The global population of animals is plummeting faster than at any time in human history. There are now more peers in the House of Lords than there are Sumatran tigers left in the world. And we risk there being no tigers left at all when the next Year of the Tiger comes round in 2022.

It is a privilege to share our planet with such majestic beasts as the African elephant, the black rhino and the beautiful pangolin. We cannot just sit back and watch as priceless endangered species are wiped off the face of the earth by our own carelessness and criminality.

Darwin Initiative

The Darwin Initiative is a grants scheme that helps to protect biodiversity and the natural environment around the globe. Many of the applications reflect the UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan commitments to protect the marine environment, to secure the benefits of biodiversity for the poorest communities, and to help prevent the extinction of species.

Since 1992, the Darwin Initiative has funded 1,155 projects from 159 countries, with a value of £161m.

Case studies

Living with Tigers in Nepal: poverty reduction for human-wildlife coexistence

Area: Nepal Lead Institution: Chester Zoo

Recovering tiger populations in Nepal are leading to increased human-wildlife conflict, undermining conservation efforts by threatening lives and livelihoods in poor communities. The project has minimised conflict between tigers and leopards in eight buffer zone communities surrounding Chitwan and Bardiya National Parks — during the project no human or tiger casualties have been reported. There has been a reduction of 44 per cent in livestock predation by big cats during the lifespan of this project.

Linking community resilience and sustainable coastal protection in the Philippines

Country: Philippines Lead Institution: ZSL

The project addressed climate change vulnerability and the need to increase resilience among coastal communities in the Philippines. The aim was that coastal habitats across four provinces in the Philippines, including mangroves, seagrass and coral reef habitats, are effectively protected and sustainably managed by communities, reversing declining trends in local fisheries, increasing food security and diversifying livelihoods. Far exceeding its target of 1,000 ha, the project has protected over 2,000 ha of coastal habitat, including the establishment of two new marine protected areas.

Leveraging markets to conserve mangrove biodiversity and alleviate poverty in Madagascar

Area: Madagascar Lead Institution: Blue Ventures

Coastal communities in western Madagascar are earning income from the sale of carbon credits, charcoal and timber that they supply through mangrove reforestation and sustainable forest management, so enabling them to improve their livelihoods and conserve mangrove forests in the long term. This work has included establishing agreement between authorities and communities for the ongoing sustainable management of mangroves on two sites covering an area of 9,900 hectares.

Eradicating invasive species from the highest priority Caribbean island

Area: Caribbean   Lead Institution: FFI – Fauna & Flora International

The removal of invasive species leading to the recovery of endemic species, habitats and ecological processes on Redonda, and supports the enhancement of Antigua & Barbuda’s natural capital and conservation capacity. By the third year of this project: the number of critically endangered Redonda ground lizards had increased by 840 per cent.

Cultural and economic incentives for endangered species conservation in Cambodia

Area: Cambodia Lead Institution: FFI – Fauna & Flora International

This project aimed to promote the conservation of highly threatened species, while enhancing economic incentives and supporting livelihood diversification to improve food security and decrease human pressures on the forest. As a result of the project, at least 350 households across eight villages were empowered to strengthen their food security and protect culturally important wildlife including the critically endangered Siamese crocodile and endangered Asian elephant with community wardens conducting regular patrols throughout the project area.

Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund

The UK government is committed to tackling the illegal wildlife trade. The Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund provides financial support to practical projects around the world which are:

  • developing sustainable livelihoods and economic development, to benefit people directly affected by IWT
  • strengthening law enforcement
  • ensuring effective legal frameworks
  • reducing demand for IWT products

The illegal wildlife trade is a criminal industry worth more than £17 billion each year threatening both wildlife and people.

Through the Challenge Fund around £23 million has been allocated to 75 projects.

Case study

Securing rhino populations with effective law enforcement and Impact Bonds

Area: Kenya Lead Institution: ZSL

This project was a pilot for a Rhino Impact Bond which aims to provide long-term financing to support site-level protection and management at globally-important rhino sites. The project has helped with the training of intelligence officers and has contributed to a number of successful intelligence-led operations by Kenya Wildlife Service, Big Life Foundation and Tsavo Trust, with 22 people arrested and over 360kg of ivory recovered in the first five months of 2017.

Year of Green Action

  • 2019 marks the Year of Green Action, a year-long drive to help people to connect with, protect and enhance nature
  • The Year is a commitment in the 25 Year Environment Plan to instil a legacy for the future, with a focus on children and young people

Visit the Year of Green Action website for more information on how to get involved.

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