II. Rationale for Investment
The global biodiversity hotspots once covered 15.7 percent of the Earth’s land surface. Today, however, 86 percent of the hotspots’ natural vegetation has already been destroyed: The intact remnants of the hotspots now cover only 2.3 percent of the Earth’s land surface.
As might be expected, very large proportions of threatened species occur within and are often unique to the hotspots. Between them, the hotspots hold at least 150,000 plant species found nowhere else on Earth, 50 percent of the world’s total endemic species. In addition, 77 percent of threatened amphibian species are hotspot endemics, along with 73 percent of threatened bird species and 51 percent of threatened mammal species.
The status of species can be one of the most important indicators of ecosystem health. Their demise can endanger the vitality and ability of ecosystems to provide services important for human survival: air and water cleansing, flood and climate control, soil regeneration, crop pollination, food, medicines, and raw materials. Many people and many species share a common vulnerability.
By strategically focusing on the hotspots in developing countries, CEPF provides critically needed resources to assist civil society groups in helping preserve the diversity of life and healthy ecosystems as essential components of stable and thriving societies.
The hotspots concept complements other systems for assessing global conservation priorities. All hotspots contain at least one Global 200 Ecoregion identified by WWF for their species richness, endemism, taxonomic uniqueness, unusual ecological or evolutionary phenomena, and global rarity. All but three contain at least one Endemic Bird Area identified by BirdLife International for holding two or more endemic bird species. In addition, nearly 80 percent of the sites identified by the Alliance for Zero Extinction1 are located in the hotspots. These high-priority areas for conservation hold threatened species as endemics to a single site.
No matter how successful conservation activities are elsewhere, the state of the hotspots is the real measure of the conservation challenge. Unless the global community succeeds in conserving this small fraction of the planet’s land area, more than half of Earth’s diversity of life will be lost.
By March 2007, the award of new grants in nine of the original hotspots ceased after five years of implementation and funding will soon end for other critical ecosystems. Although the program has been shown to be highly effective, there are still significant conservation needs, both in the original 14 hotspots and in other critical ecosystems that have not yet benefited under the program. CEPF investments in a number of current hotspots targeted only selected areas, such as the Indonesian island of Sumatra in the Sundaland Hotspot and the Upper Guinean Forest in the Guinean Forests of West Africa Hotspot, while other areas in those hotspots are also of high value with major needs.
Based on new research by nearly 400 experts, CI also refined the original hotspot framework, aligned hotspot boundaries to match the WWF ecoregions wherever they overlap, and designated nine additional hotspots in early 2005. This refinement raised the number of hotspots globally from 25 to 34 (Annex II), up to 30 of which include countries eligible for support under the current CEPF eligibility criteria as they occur in a biodiversity hotspot, are World Bank clients, and have ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Twenty-five hotspots covering 77 countries are wholly eligible for CEPF support, while five others include 17 additional eligible countries.
This 5-year period of the global program will enable expansion and replication of successful civil society implementation models more broadly within at least 14 hotspots. CEPF will build on lessons learned to date as well as on recommendations from the independent evaluation to further strengthen the program in existing hotspots and to expand activities to new critical ecosystems and to marine and coastal habitats within and adjacent to the hotspots. Supporting conservation activities in marine and coastal habitats will provide a more holistic and integrated ecosystem approach to conservation needs. The CEPF Donor Council may also decide to establish new funding windows to accommodate the strategic interests of specific donors.
Expected global benefits will arise from the increased participation and capacity of national and local civil society groups to manage and deliver conservation initiatives in a strategic and effective manner and to integrate biodiversity conservation into development and landscape planning in regions of recognized global importance. These interventions will lead to generation, adoption, adaptation, and application of lessons for improved outcomes relevant both to CEPF and the broader conservation and development communities.
New CEPF programs and choice of hotspots will also complement activities likely to be supported under the new Global Environment Facility Resource Allocation Framework (RAF). Although CEPF has invested in some of the biodiversity-rich countries that are likely to receive substantial allocations under the framework, the 30 eligible hotspots together target 94 countries. CEPF has the potential to be able to complement conservation efforts in many of these countries by filling in gaps and focusing resources to civil society and private sector efforts that may not otherwise be supported.
As previously, all of the countries involved in the program will have ratified the CBD and all region-specific investment strategies will be endorsed by the relevant national Global Environment Facility focal points to ensure consistency with national Biodiversity Action Plans and country programmatic frameworks. CEPF is fully consistent with and explicitly supports the goals and agreed work programs of the CBD, including the protected areas work program and others that will contribute to the 2010 targets. By directing resources to the most critical irreplaceable ecosystems, CEPF directly supports the goal of “significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss.”
The program recognizes national needs to target conservation funding more efficiently and effectively. One of the differentiating elements of the CEPF approach is the highly participatory process used to prepare ecosystem profiles and identify the CEPF funding niche for each critical ecosystem. The process is led by civil society organizations tasked with ensuring wide participation and transparency at the local level to enable diverse stakeholders, including governmental partners, to reach consensus on the highest priorities for conservation and hence where CEPF investments will have the greatest incremental value.
The program is unique because of its focus on enabling civil society participation in conservation, as well as because of its global scale and potential to act as a mechanism for the conservation community as a whole to align investments for greater impact.
CEPF will further expand the efforts of its partners and national governments as a streamlined, agile fund designed to enable civil society groups, including the private sector, to act as essential partners in conserving the hotspots. It will directly benefit national and local groups that many donors have found difficult to reach. Implementation will emphasize partnerships and transparency at all levels of the program to avoid duplication of effort and to maximize a multi-stakeholder approach to the challenge of biodiversity conservation.
The CEPF dual-pronged approach of focusing on the world’s most critical ecosystems for conservation and civil society is also designed to inspire others to realign their own efforts to safeguard the irreplaceable and build the capacity of civil society. The first phase of CEPF leveraged an additional $130 million of non-CEPF funds toward specific projects and civil society activities within the hotspots. CEPF support has also played an influential role in shaping national and municipal policies in favor of biodiversity conservation.
1Signatories to the Alliance for Zero Extinction include American Bird Conservancy; American Museum of Natural History; Asociación Armonía; Asociación de Conservación de los Ecosistemas Andinos; Association "Les Amis des Oiseaux"; Asociacion Naymlap; BirdLife International; Charles Darwin Foundation; CIPAMEX; Conservation and Research for Endangered Species; Conservation International; Doga Dernegi – Turkey; Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust; EcoSystems-India; Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden; Fauna and Flora International; Forest Partners International; Fundación Jocotoco; Guyra Paraguay; Hawai`i Endangered Bird Conservation Program; Instituto Ecologia Applicata; International Iguana Foundation; Island Conservation and Ecology Group; Island Endemics; Loro Parque Fundación; Lubee Bat Conservancy; Mindo Cloudforest Foundation; Missouri Botanical Garden; National Audubon Society; The Nature Conservancy; NatureServe; ProAves Colombia; Rare; Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute; Société Audubon Haiti!; Vermont Institute of Natural Science; Wildlife Conservation and Environmental Development Association of Ethiopia; Wildlife Conservation Society; Wildlife Trust; World Parks; World Pheasant Association; and World Wildlife Fund.
Contents / Previous / Next