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."
Protected lands and freshwaters cover approximately a sixth of the world’s surface according to the new Protected Planet Report 2020. This online publication provides insights on the status of global progress toward achieving the goal of protecting at least 17% of land by 2020. It also highlights opportunities for goals and actions toward halting and reversing the biodiversity crisis before 2050. The Center is proud to have contributed to this leading global assessment on the state of protected and conserved areas around the world.
Akash Patil of India spoke of his first encounter with a leopard and his subsequent commitment to a career in conservation. Nayla Azmi told a story of growing up in an Indonesian palm oil plantation and her journey to become an orangutan protector. Sarah Kulis, a recent graduate from West Virginia University, and legally blind, encouraged other aspiring conservationists with disabilities to persevere. These were three of the young storytellers who shared their experiences in conservation at the Center's workshop at the recent IUCN Global Youth Summit.
Recently, the United Nations General Assembly adopted an unprecedented resolution recognizing the critical importance of ecological connectivity worldwide. The resolution, sponsored by Kyrgyzstan and signed by 60 other countries, encourages all 193 country members to enhance habitat and species connectivity to preserve ecosystems and wildlife corridors that share borders between countries.
On this Earth Day 2021, the Center is proud to announce release of the official Spanish translation of the IUCN ‘Guidelines for Conserving Connectivity through Ecological Networks and Corridors.’ As the result of contributions from more than 100 experts in 30 countries serving as volunteer members of the IUCN WCPA Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group (CCSG), these groundbreaking Guidelines are already helping to clarify and standardize approaches worldwide for conserving ecological connectivity.
The Center is increasingly engaging with partners across Central Asia to build capacity, promote research, and implement connectivity conservation efforts in the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. We are proud to be part of growing collaboration across this globally important biodiversity hotspot that has, among other progress, yielded important scientific evidence about the presence of an endangered and charismatic species—the Persian leopard—in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
Wildlife Connect is an exciting new initiative of WWF International, and the Center for Large Landscape Conservation is advising on its development. The partnership aims to create ecologically connected and thus climate-resilient landscapes throughout WWF’s conservation work with a focus on three important and vulnerable landscapes on three continents.
The virtual IUCN "One Nature, One Future" Global Youth Summit takes place April 5-16, 2021, and the Center for Large Landscape Conservation will host two sessions for young conservationists. The Summit is designed to strengthen connections between young leaders globally and add momentum to growing youth movements for nature and climate. Since the two-week event will be entirely virtual, and entirely free, there’s no reason not to register!
The earth is made up of many large landscapes and seascapes that support animal life. But parks and other protected areas alone are not enough to sustain healthy wildlife populations in the face of a changing climate and increasing human development. Fragmented habitat isolates and weakens animal populations and puts them at greater risk of extinction. It is more essential now than ever that we preserve or restore corridors—or connections between natural areas—before it’s too late.