Fauna & Flora International receives huge boost from the Darwin Initiative

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is pleased to announce that five of its projects have been awarded substantial funding from the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative.

The grants will support conservation projects around the world that aim to protect threatened species and habitats, as well as the livelihoods of people who depend on them.

The Darwin Initiative, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last week, provides funding to help protect wildlife and ecosystems in countries that are rich in biodiversity but poor in financial resources.

Speaking at the anniversary event, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “I am proud of the UK’s ongoing commitment to international conservation, and I’m delighted to announce that the Government is putting more funds into protecting vulnerable species. Over the last 20 years the Darwin Initiative has helped some of the world’s poorest countries protect some of the most important wildlife on the planet.”

Read on to learn more about the projects that will be supported by this latest round of Darwin Initiative grants.

Conserving the newly-discovered Myanmar snub-nosed monkey

Restricted to an area of less than 400 km2 and with an estimated population of just 260-330 individuals, the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey is amongst the world’s most endangered primates. The species faces severe threats from hunting and habitat loss, yet scientists’ understanding of this creature is rudimentary, making conservation difficult.

One of the world’s first images of a live Myanmar snub-nosed monkey (photo credit: FFI, BANCA & PRCF)

FFI is working with Myanmar NGO Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) to enhance in-country primate conservation through classroom and field training. At the same time, the project team will be working to increase knowledge of the species’ abundance, distribution, ecology, behaviour and threats in order to develop a conservation strategy.

Establishing Cambodia’s first Marine Protected Area

In Cambodia, FFI is working with the Fisheries Administration to design and implement the country’s first large-scale Marine Protected Area (MPA) that will cover an area of approximately 300 km2 around the islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem.

With 60-70% of people on the islands dependant on fishing as their main source of income, it is vital to ensure that any conservation action involves (and is supported by) all relevant parties, from local communities to businesses. To achieve this, FFI is using its strong local relationships to bring stakeholders together so that they play an active role, alongside government agencies, in conserving the marine environment.

Supporting the next generation of conservation professionals in Liberia

Years of devastating civil war in Liberia have taken their toll on national capacity, disrupting the training of natural resource personnel and destroying the infrastructure for research and education.

The pygmy hippo (photo credit: Lorinda Taylor).

To address this, FFI and partners are working to build conservation education into Liberian curricula and setting up a Centre of Excellence for Ecological Research and Conservation Learning that will provide Liberian students with much-needed field research training and opportunities.

Integrating cultural values into national parks management in Uganda

FFI is expanding its innovative Cultural Values and Conservation Programme in Uganda’s Albertine Rift (one of the world’s most bio-diverse regions, home to the iconic mountain gorilla). The project is working to help local partners and park managers understand and recognise Batwa cultural values with the aim of incorporating these into park governance.

This project will allow park managers to engage with the 7,000 strong Batwa community and gain their support, and is expected to significantly reduce threats to species and habitats whilst improving the livelihoods and well-being of 830 Batwa households.

Involving local communities in marine conservation in Central America

MPAs, when well designed and managed, are widely believed to be one of the most effective tools for combating overexploitation and degradation of marine habitats. Unfortunately top-down marine governance often alienates local fishing communities, greatly reducing the effectiveness of MPAs.

This problem is prevalent in Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica, which is why FFI has launched an ambitious marine conservation programme that will include local people in decisions about the management and conservation of their marine resources. The project will draw on experiences from a similar, highly successful, project in Ecuador.