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Region in Review

From the clouded mountain peaks of the New Guinea wilderness to the sun-drenched beaches of the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and Fiji, the islands of Melanesia are scattered like emeralds on the turquoise South Pacific. Each island is a fragile biological crucible where evolution has produced species unlike any other on Earth, such as New Guinea’s Raggiana bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea raggiana) and New Caledonia’s giant gecko (Rhacodactylus leachianus).

Safeguarding Species
To help understand and conserve the Pacific region’s unique creatures, Conservation International (CI) has formed a critical partnership with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). The partnership is focusing scientific analysis on island biodiversity and conservation corridors, particularly on the island of New Guinea.

Collaborating with a variety of NGOs and government organizations, CI is also launching a new program in the Polynesia- Micronesia Hotspot. The goal is better species protection in places like the volcanic Sovi Basin’s 50,000 acres of nearpristine rivers, cloud forests, and steep ridges on the Fijian island of Viti Levu.

In Cambodia, more than 2 million acres of conservation corridors are being consolidated by CI and its regional partners, in part to preserve the unique habitat of the Critically Endangered freshwater Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis), which is virtualy extinct elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Corridor Progress
A massive flash flood thought to be caused by deforestation from illegal logging killed more than 200 people on the Indonesian island of Sumatra in the Sundaland Hotspot. Reaction was swift. After cooperatively securing a decree at the local level, communities in the flooded region and local government representatives secured a national declaration establishing the 266,760-acre Batang Gadis National Park. It is a model for a “bottom-up” process of national park creation and collaborative management. The park is an integral part of the northern Sumatra conservation corridor that CI, other local organizations, communities, and governmental representatives are working to create with support from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.

CI also helped to establish the 236,000-acre Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape, plus more than 413,000 acres of the Quirino Protected Landscape on Luzon Island in the Philippines. These lush reserves now merge with the neighboring Sierra Madre National Park to form much of the Sierra Madre conservation corridor. This corridor represents the largest block of protected forest in the Philippines and is home to severely threatened species like Cantor’s giant softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) and the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), one of the world’s rarest birds. The corridor is also a watershed for the Cagayan River Basin, headwaters of the longest river in the Philippines, and the main water source for the Cagayan Valley, the nation’s “ricebowl.”

Sacred Sites
High in the craggy expanses of southwestern China, CI launched the Tibetan Sacred Lands project with support from the Blue Moon Foundation. The initiative is dedicated to mapping sacred sites, assessing their biodiversity, and reviving traditional Tibetan land-management practices that focus on harmony and sustainability. Tibetan sacred sites have protected some of the most pristine natural environments in southwestern China, but they are now facing tremendous threats from modern development and its associated erosion of traditional cultural values.

Working with the 3M Corporation as project underwriter and with international, government, and local partners, CI-China aims to restore native mountain forests on degraded lands and monoculture tree plantations, as well as assess additional ecological benefits, including carbon mitigation of global climate change.

In western Sichuan Province, ethnic Tibetans have allied with CI-China to create Green Khampa, the region’s first environmental NGO. The first in a series of training workshops to build management skills, patrol techniques, and monitoring methods on 60 newly established nature reserves in southwestern China was held in Sichuan Province.


© CI, Russell A. Mittermeier
Buddha statues in Cambodia, which is part of the Indo-Burma hotspot.

© CI, Darwin Flores
A woman chops coconuts on Marlenee Island, part of the Togean Islands of Sulawesi which is part of the Wallacea Hotspot.

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Photo credits for banner images: (Greater Flamingos © Tui De Roy/Minden Pictures); (Diagonal-banded Sweetlips © Fred Bavendam/Minden Pictures);
(Madagascar Aloe © Frans Lanting/Minden Pictures); (Hippo © Frans Lanting/Minden Pictures); (Hummingbird © Pete Oxford); (Malagasy Frog © Piotr Naskrecki/CI)