Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Big boost for wildlife conservation: 23 new SOS projects

£2million to help save threatened species
February 2012: Top species conservation experts from around the world have determined the allocation of just over £2million to 23 species conservation projects. Gorillas, cockatoos, and frogs are just a few of the multitude of threatened species that are receiving a helping hand from SOS (Save Our Species), a global species conservation fund initiated by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the World Bank and the GEF (Global Environment Facility).
Drawing on species conservation knowledge accrued over decades by IUCN, for the first call for proposals SOS focused on species groups that were completely assessed on IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species and already had specific conservation action plans in place.
Dire situation needs urgent actionAccording to the Red List, one in three amphibians, one in eight birds, and one in four mammals are at risk of extinction in the wild. Nineteen different organisations will use these funds to conserve threatened animal and plant species and their habitats.
‘The dire situation facing the world's biodiversity calls for urgent action. SOS is seeking to bring knowledge, expertise and funding together in order to address the plight of threatened species,' says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN's Director General. ‘Through these exciting projects we hope to show that, if properly implemented, conservation works.'
A high variety of different species is crucial for ecosystem health and SOS aims to conserve a multitude of threatened creatures, focusing on Asian and African mammals, amphibians and birds with the new round of funds. SOS supports a variety of mammal projects such as conservation programmes targeting the critically endangered cross river gorilla and black rhino in Africa, in addition to Pakistan's endangered snow leopard.
Species are disappearing up to 1,000 faster than normalMammals represent the largest portion of the SOS portfolio, but they are not the only animals at risk. SOS also supports bird and amphibian projects, protecting the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper in Asia; a project to re-introduce the Philippine cockatoo and an initiative preserving the golden mantella frog in Madagascar.
‘Ignoring species conservation means ignoring a world in which species are currently disappearing at a rate 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal. The loss of wild plant and animal species is a real threat to human well-being, sustainable development and poverty reduction.
‘In these times of economic turmoil, it would be wise not to further damage nature – our ultimate safety net,' says Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director of IUCN's Global Species Programme and SOS Director. ‘By implementing on the ground conservation action, the projects SOS select help protect entire habitats which both people and wildlife depend on.'

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