In May 2022, more than 1,200 participants—including four staff members from the Center for Large Landscape Conservation—from 49 countries gathered in the city of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia for the 2nd Asia Parks Congress (APC). Jointly convened by Sabah Parks and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), this APC paved the way for the conservation community to refocus and reinvigorate common objectives, as one of the first, large, in-person (and virtual) gatherings to be held in Asia since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A steady rain drenched us head to toe, and as it neared midnight I started to wonder when we would finally head back to camp. The herpetologists, though, were unconcerned with the elements. They scrambled up and down steep muddy slopes in search of reptile and amphibian specimens. In all likelihood, the fruits of their labor would be the discovery of species completely new to science! When the group finally called it quits for the night, the transect had yielded a half dozen frogs, a plump lizard, and a beautiful, non-venomous false coral snake to be documented and photographed.
This past weekend, I visited the newly established Parque Nacional Río Negro Sopladora, a national park that covers more than 30,000 hectares of undisturbed habitat in Ecuador, ranging from high peaks at 12,800 feet above sea level eastwards into the humid Amazon basin, at 2,600 ft. A highlight of hiking in this lesser-known park was seeing hours-fresh footprints of mountain tapir and a large cat (my guess is cougar). It was nice to finally get my boots muddy after two weeks in the city, getting situated in the country I will call home for a month and a half.
The Center for Large Landscape Conservation is pleased to announce the addition of two staff members who are helping to lead our programmatic work in the U.S. and worldwide. Project Director Megan Parker and Senior Conservation Scientist Annika Keeley each bring an impressive array of accomplishments in the field of conservation. We are excited to have these two leaders on our team to further elevate our science, policy, and partnership work.
When we hear the term “ecological corridors” we tend to think of the natural pathways that land animals like elk or elephants use to move among larger natural areas to eat, drink, mate and meet other survival needs. Corridors are equally important for marine life like whales, turtles, fish, and seabirds, which depend on linkages between ocean areas for daily movement, seasonal migration, and completing their life cycles. Until recently, collaborative research and guidance on marine ecological connectivity had been lacking, but now the Center for Large Landscape Conservation is supporting coordination of work by a unique group of experts that is making the issue a top priority.
More than 20 speakers and nearly 200 attendees made history last week as participants in the first-of-its-kind gathering to share knowledge for making transportation infrastructure more sustainable across Asia. As many countries in the region expand their networks of roads, rails, and other modes of transportation, such development can provide vast economic and social benefits but also present challenges to nature conservation and local communities. Therefore, on December 16-17, 2021, the 1st Asia Transportation Ecology Forum was held to explore how this development is already impacting ecosystems—affecting species from butterflies to elephants—and how science-based solutions can be applied to conserve Asia’s rich biodiversity.
An international group of more than 25 elephant biologists and infrastructure ecologists released a report today with an urgent message: All efforts to avoid key Asian elephant habitats and their migration corridors need to be made when developing linear infrastructure like roads, railways, and canals. If this is not possible, wildlife crossings are key to providing safe passage for this endangered species. The report comes in response to an explosion of new linear infrastructure across Asia that is increasingly blocking elephant movement and leading to deadly collisions.
Asia is home to many iconic wildlife species—such as Asian elephants, Bengal tigers, and Sumatran orangutans—along with some of the world’s richest biodiversity and most complex ecosystems. Yet, as Asia experiences unprecedented economic growth, the region’s natural heritage is threatened by the rapid expansion of linear infrastructure like roads, railways, and power lines. That’s why, over the last 14 months, the nonprofit Center for Large Landscape Conservation has helped USAID build a knowledge base to support Asian countries in planning wildlife-friendly linear infrastructure.
Every four years, thousands of representatives from government, civil society, Indigenous peoples, business, and academia come together at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress with the goal of setting conservation priorities and driving actions. In light of challenges to convening, the postponed 2020 Congress was held with both in-person and virtual participants from September 3 to 11, 2021, in Marseille, France. As an official non-governmental organization (NGO) Member of the Union, the Center for Large Landscape Conservation contributed in multiple ways at the Congress toward setting the international conservation agenda for the coming decade.
The ecological connectivity of marine and coastal ecosystems is essential. It requires linkages that connect our oceans' critical habitats, species, and natural processes. These connections allow a variety of species to move and they also sustain important ecosystem functions such as fish larvae dispersal, nutrient cycling, and carbon sequestration—the ocean's ability to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to slow climate change. To inform conservation efforts that maintain, enhance, and restore ecological connectivity of the oceans, a new publication was released today titled "Marine Connectivity Conservation ‘Rules of Thumb’ for MPA and MPA Network Design."