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Ecosystem Profile: Indochina

In terms of species diversity and endemism, Indochina is one of the most biologically important regions on the planet. A spate of discoveries of new species during the 1990s focused the attention of the global conservation community on Indochina. Changing political climates in several countries meant that increasing amounts of international donor assistance, including conservation investment, flowed into most countries in the region from the early 1990s onward. During this period, national governments also made significant investments in conservation, particularly through the expansion of national protected area networks.

Despite the considerable sums invested in conservation in the region, there remain several major and immediate threats to biodiversity, most significantly overexploitation and habitat degradation and loss. The underlying causes of these threats include economic growth and increasing consumption, poverty, weak governance, economic incentives, undervaluation, inappropriate land tenure, and, potentially, global climate change. Civil society is well placed to address both immediate threats to species, sites, and ecosystems, and their underlying causes. However, current investment does not always target the highest conservation priorities or promote the most effective approaches, and the potential to engage civil society in biodiversity conservation has yet to be fully realized. In this context, the opportunities for CEPF to support biodiversity conservation in the region are almost limitless.

In order to focus future CEPF investment in the region most effectively, a yearlong preparation process was undertaken, involving five expert roundtables and consultations with more than 170 stakeholders from civil society organizations, government institutions and donor agencies. The output of this process was this ecosystem profile, which includes a five-year investment strategy for CEPF in the region. This strategy is divided into investment priorities, grouped into four strategic directions (broadly, a globally threatened species component, a key biodiversity areas component, a conservation corridors component, and a regional implementation team component).

CEPF investment will be concentrated within two priority corridors (the Mekong River and Major Tributaries, and the Northern Highlands Limestone), and the 28 priority sites they contain. Moreover, CEPF investment will focus on 67 priority species, which require species-focused action in addition to site-based and landscape-scale conservation. Although ambitious, the CEPF investment strategy is realistic, and represents an important opportunity to realize the potential of civil society in the region, and to make a lasting contribution to the conservation of the region's unique and irreplaceable biodiversity values.

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