The CEPF Donor Council approved new ecosystem profiles and investment strategies on July 31 for the partnership to expand to two new biodiversity hotspots: Caucasus and the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests of Tanzania and Kenya.
Final endorsement of the strategies is expected from the official Global Environment Facility focal points within each of the countries within these two hotspots in the next few weeks. CEPF grants can be disbursed once this required endorsement is formalized. The expansion will bring the number of hotspots to 13 where CEPF grants are available to civil society, such as nongovernmental organizations, community groups and academic institutions.
The Caucasus hotspot spans 500,000 square kilometers of mountains in Eurasia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. The area includes parts of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and small portions of Russia, Iran and Turkey. The deserts, savannas, swamp forests and arid woodlands that comprise the Caucasus hotspot contain more than twice the animal diversity found in adjacent regions of Europe and Asia, yet its biodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate.
The CEPF strategy for this hotspot is based on the results of stakeholder workshops and background reports coordinated by WWF Caucasus. More than 130 experts representing scientific, governmental and nongovernmental groups from the six countries participated in these preparations.
The strategy is underpinned by conservation outcomes—targets against which the success of investments can be measured. These targets are defined at three levels: species (extinctions avoided), sites (areas protected) and landscapes (corridors created). As a result, CEPF investment in the Caucasus is focused on conserving the hotspot's 51 globally threatened species, the majority of which are found in specific sites in five target conservation corridors: Greater Caucasus, Caspian, West Lesser Caucasus, East Lesser Caucasus and Hyrcan.
The Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests hotspot stretches along most of the eastern coast of Tanzania and into extreme southeastern Kenya. The region is notably fragmented with endemic species being found in small sites. Agriculture and encroachment along with timber extraction are the greatest threats.
Within the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests hotspot, CEPF aims to improve knowledge and appreciation of biodiversity among the local populations and stimulate support for conservation. In conjunction with this, a commitment to scientific best practices will improve biological knowledge in the hotspot and show practical applications of conservation science.
CEPF investment will focus on conserving the hotspot's 333 globally threatened species, which are primarily found in 160 sites. In addition, key parts of the strategy focus on select sites for maximum impact.