New partnership to help Jamaican species under stress

Our Habitat

BY PETRE WILLIAMS-RAYNOR Environment editor williamsp@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 31, 2010

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NAGOYA, Japan Jamaica and other developing countries now have a new window to access funding to help halt species loss, thanks to a new partnership launched here at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity on Wednesday.


The partners include the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank and BirdLife International, and will respond to those countries with sites identified by the Alliance for Zero Extinction as being in need of immediate action.


"Over the next four years, the global map of key sites for extinction avoidance produced by the alliance will be used as an important blueprint for targeted action, helping to safeguard key sites where species are in imminent danger of disappearing," said a release to the media, which was made available at the press conference announcing the partnership.


There are some 587 sites that have been identified, accounting for some 920 of the world's most endangered species. The Jamaican sites and species on that list include: The Blue and John Crow mountains for the frog species Eleutherodactylus alticola and the Jamaican Petrel; The Cockpit Country and Catadupa for the frog species Eleutherodactylus griphus and the Eleutherodactylus sisyphodemus; The Hellshire Hills for the Jamaican Iguana; and The Portland Byte and Ridge surrounding areas for the frog species Eleutherodactylus cavernicola.


Other Caribbean countries on the list include Bermuda, Haiti, Montserrat, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. Together they account for a variety of bird species, including the Bermuda Petrel and the Bermuda Cedar as well as the Montserrat Oriole, the Sempler's Warbler and the Trinidad piping guan.


Also represented are some frog species.


"Destruction of wild nature is reducing the habitat of countless species. For many, suitable habitat is down to a bare minimum. The Alliance of Zero Extinction -- sites that are the last and only remaining refuge for severely threatened species, classified as "critically endangered" or "endangered" on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species," the release noted. "Loss of any of the (noted 587 sites), to habitat degradation or other threats, would precipitate final extinction events, at least in the wild."


The idea, the partners explained, is to have the developing countries formulate strategies for corrective action based on their own determination of where to focus their efforts. Once they have crafted their plans/projects, they should submit them to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), who will seek to find the required funding for its implementation, with technical support provided by the


likes of BirdLife International and the Alliance for Zero Extinction.


The parties to the partnership have, meanwhile, noted their optimism about the initiative.


"The extinction crisis is upon us; it is real. But it is not too late... We still only have a short window of time. And what we need and what we currently lack is a global strategic plan to tackle the most predictable, imminent species extinction," said Mike Parr, chairman of the AZE Steering Committee.


The collaboration with the World Bank, BirdLife International and the GEF, he said, was the perfect opportunity to help make this happen.


"The World Bank looks forward to getting access to the highly endangered sites from the Alliance for Zero Extinction to assists in its own operations," said Warren Evans director of the environment Department of the World Bank in a release to the media.


"This scientifically based and critical information has not always been readily available to development agencies such as the World Bank and others. AZE would pilot the use of this tool to mainstream biodiversity in other World Bank sectors," he added.



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