Press Release

Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) Launched in India

Gangtok, Sikkim (Aug. 24, 2006)—The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) recently began an investment program in the Eastern Himalayas Region, covering Bhutan, northeastern India, and southern, central and eastern Nepal.

The program is being coordinated by WWF in the Eastern Himalayas with WWF Bhutan Program and WWF Nepal Program coordinating CEPF in Bhutan and Nepal respectively. In India the CEPF program is coordinated by the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE).

CEPF is a joint initiative of Conservation International (CI), the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank. CEPF provides strategic assistance to non-governmental organizations, community groups and other civil society partners to help safeguard Earth’s biodiversity hotspots. A fundamental goal of CEPF is to engage civil society in biodiversity conservation.

The Eastern Himalayas region is the newest of 16 hotspots currently being funded by CEPF. A national level CEPF Program Steering Committee and a national regional level Project Technical Advisory Committee are in the process of being formed in India to provide guidance on the review and endorsement of projects that could be potentially funded by CEPF in India. Each grant awarded will help implement an investment strategy designed together with experts and stakeholders in the region.

Mr. Suman Rai, Regional Director, ATREE Eastern Himalayas has been appointed the Country Coordinator for India and is based in ATREE-Eastern Himalaya Office in Kalimpong. Meanwhile, Dr. Sarala Khaling from WWF is the CEPF Regional Coordinator for Bhutan, India, and Nepal. CEPF Eastern Himalayas team members with regional responsibilities are based at WWF Nepal, office in Kathmandu, Nepal.

For more information, please contact:
Mr. Suman Rai, Regional Director,
ATREE-Eastern Himalaya Office
Dr. B.L Dikshit Road, Near Jubilee High School, Kalimpong, Darjeeling
Phone/Fax: 03552-257713;

Sarala Khaling, Ph.D, CEPF Regional Coordinator
WWF Nepal Program Office
Post Box 7660, Kathmandu, Nepal
Ph: 0977-1-4434820, 4434970;