Great Apes Offer Access, Inspiration to Protected Areas Partnership

15th Jun 2012 Press Releases

Innovative projects that focus on great apes to link forest corridors, promote sustainable land-use, conserve endangered species, develop responsible tourism, and engage community support are at the heart of the Spain-UNEP Partnership for Protected Areas in Support of LifeWeb, which will be featured at a side-event during the ongoing Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

“Protecting the Protected Areas: Partnering to Expand the Most Precious 17 Percent of the Planet” will be held June 20 at 1 p.m. in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Pavilion Auditorium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) manages six of the Spain-UNEP LifeWeb projects, ranging from reforestation work in Sumatra to health monitoring projects that track the Ebola virus in the Republic of Congo. Chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans are iconic species that can provide important clues to ecosystem health.

“Great apes are an extremely important part of the biodiversity equation,” said Doug Cress, coordinator of GRASP. “By focusing on the needs of chimpanzees and gorillas in Africa or orangutans in Asia, we can also have a positive impact on the forests, on other species, and the communities that live nearby.”

GRASP produced a promotional video – narrated by GRASP patron Richard Leakey — and resource materials for the Rio+20 side event. A sneak preview of the event curtain raiser video can be previewed here.

GRASP joined the Spain-UNEP LifeWeb programme in 2009, and  partners with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the African Parks Network, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to implement the LifeWeb projects.

“An important reason for this success to date has been the ability of the international protected area community to move beyond policy discussion – and to focus energies and resources increasingly on practical measures that foster on-the-ground implementation,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP.

Among the projects are an economic analysis of the Takamanda National Park in Cameroon – which is home to critically endangered Cross River gorillas – and wildlife protection measures at the Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. GRASP also manages Spain-UNEP LifeWeb projects in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park (DR Congo) and Lossi Fauna Reserve and the Noubale-Ndoki National Park (Republic of Congo). Other UNEP-Spain LifeWeb projects monitor marine mammal corridors in the Caribbean and implement improved fishing practices in West Africa.

GRASP is a unique alliance of member nations, U.N. agencies, conservation organizations and private supporters that was formed in 2001 to protect great apes and their habitat. For more information, please visit www.un-grasp.org.

June 2012

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