Human Welfare

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Biodiversity in Crisis
Biodiversity – the variety of all forms or life, from genes and species to ecosystems – is our living natural heritage, our natural resource base. Its importance is profound and far-reaching. From the inherent value of Earth’s species in their natural habitats, to the medicinal, nutritional and economic benefits provided by individual species, to the invaluable role of ecosystems in controlling erosion, cleansing the air and water, storing carbon, enriching soil, and pollinating crops.

Around the world, human activities are taking a heavy toll on wild nature. Unsustainable agriculture, unregulated extractive industries, creeping urbanization, rampant coastal development, and rapacious over-fishing by giant industrial fleets are fragmenting and destroying natural environments. Other assaults from the introduction of exotic species to climate change are throwing delicate ecosystems out of balance. Illegal and unregulated hunting, fishing, and trade in wildlife products are depleting many species.

Degraded landscapes and dwindling species spell tragic consequences because the loss of biodiversity reduces the quality of life for all. For indigenous people that depend on healthy and productive ecosystems to meet their daily needs, their very survival is at stake. We must protect the diversity of life, not only for its intrinsic value, but also because a vibrant, healthy society depends on our continued success in safeguarding our threatened natural assets.

Our Approach
CI is responding to this crisis through a highly focused approach in biodiversity hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas, and key marine regions – areas that have been identified through scientific analysis as being the highest global priorities for biodiversity conservation.

Conservation Science
Science is the heart of our work. To strengthen our mission, CI established the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) as the hub of our scientific and technical operations. CABS brings together leading experts in science and technology to collect and interpret data about biodiversity, develop strategic plans for conservation, and forge partnerships in all sectors that promote conservation goals.

With objective data in hand, our regional and country programs can make a strong case for conservation with national, regional and local leaders in biologically critical areas.

CI also recognizes the vital role of partnerships in achieving conservation at a meaningful scale. Ultimately, one organization can be active in a limited number of sites. To be successful at a regional and global scale, conservation requires strategic collaboration among multiple organizations. To that end, CI invests locally and regionally in building alliances and supporting partners.

Additionally, CI engages key constituencies – namely, communities, businesses and governments. Conservation cannot succeed without the support of local people, and we continue to strengthen our commitment to them. We have dramatically increased efforts to engage the private sector to change the way they do business, and we are working effectively with governments on local, regional and national levels.

Human Welfare
The loss of biodiversity impoverishes the world and humankind. It reduces the quality of life for all people and may in fact be a survival issue for communities who depend directly upon healthy and productive natural lands to meet their daily needs. We believe that the future of human welfare hinges on our success. At the same time, we recognize that the sustainability of our conservation outcomes we achieve today will depend on our ability to demonstrate the vital role that biodiversity plays in supporting human welfare.

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© Patricio Robles Gil
The Tropical Andes region contains about a sixth of all plant life in less than 1 percent of the world's land area.

© CI, Russell A. Mittermeier
In places like the Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia, illegal logging is among the greatest challenges facing conservationists.

© CI, John Martin
CI's President, Russell Mittermeier shares a map of the biodiversity hotspots in the village of O'Som in the Cardamom Mountains.

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