International Biodiversity Day 2019: Darwin Initiative funding released

international biodiversity day 2019
© iStock/Ershov_Maks

The UK government is commemorating International Biodiversity Day 2019 by releasing a new tranche of funding for conservation projects.

The theme of this year’s United Nations (UN) International Day for Biological Diversity is “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health”, aiming to raise global awareness of the importance of biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem to a sustainable and well-rounded food supply. With the world’s rate of species extinction rapidly accelerating, exacerbated by human activity and climate change, locally sourced food production and agriculture processes are under threat; and the UK is working to address these issues by making funding available under its Darwin Initiative.

Environment Minister, Thérèse Coffey said: “The UN International Day for Biological Diversity celebrates the wonderful diversity of nature and wildlife around our planet. Nature delivers many environmental benefits including clean air and water, sustainable food supplies, and recovery and resilience to natural disasters. The Darwin Initiative delivers support for international nature conservation projects and many economic activities depend on nature, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism.”

On the occasion of International Biodiversity Day 2019 the Darwin Initiative, which aims to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development goals by supporting nature conservation and food security worldwide, has provided highlights of two of its ongoing projects.

Over the last three years, nearly £300,000 (€340,029) has been allocated to the development of 22 Tropical Important Plant Areas in Guinea, protecting rare and threatened plant species. Dr Martin Cheek, Senior Research Leader at the Royal Botanic Gardens, said: “This official status is vital in Guinea. Habitat loss has been devastating with calculations that 96% of the country’s original forest has already been cleared, and that which remains is under severe pressure.  It looks like as many as 35 species have gone extinct in Guinea, from trees to minute herbs, daisies, peas and clematis…all due to human pressures. Twenty-five of these are globally unique to Guinea; so these are likely global extinctions.”

Two projects in the Philippines have received a total of just under £800,000 (€906,582) towards expanding Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) along the Filipino coast. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which has been implementing the project, has designated ideal Marine Protected Areas (iMPAs); which are larger, more assiduously enforced and better managed than traditional MPAs. Dr Nick Hill, Senior Technical Specialist at ZSL, said: “Darwin Initiative funding for the first two iMPAs has gained the support of local government. These two MPAs are nearly fifty-times the average size of MPAs in the Philippines, with no-take replenishment zones sixteen times bigger. This is a key milestone for ZSL’s project and proves that in the Philippines larger community-based MPAs make a meaningful contribution towards the Philippines nationally-mandated target of protecting 15% of municipal waters.”

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