GRASP facilitates conservation activities under the guidance of the GRASP Executive Committee and the GRASP Scientific Commission. Projects are undertaken according to consensus on priority ape populations, GRASP's added value and results from conservation planning excercises. Initiatives can be broadly categorised into the three following thematic areas:
Originally established as a Forest Reserve in 1934, Takamanda was upgraded to a National Park in November 2008. The unsustainable harvesting of wildlife, certain non-timber forest products, and illegal timber extraction (from surrounding areas) are a permanent problem in this area. Despite these challenges, Takamanda and the adjacent Mawambi Hills located outside the southern boundary of the park provide refuge to a significant proportion of Cameroon’s Cross River gorillas (Gorilla gorilla diehli) as well as scattered groups of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes ellioti), drills (Mandrillus leucophaeus), Preuss’s guenons (Cercopithecus preussi) and other large mammals.
As a microcosm of the larger Cross River Gorilla landscape (and more broadly the wider Cameroonian forest landscape), the Takamanda-Mone Techincal Operations Unit(TOU) presents an excellent site for evaluating and implementing a landscape-level approach to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). From an operational perspective, the presence of a strong multi-disciplinary team of government, NGO and private sector partners with significant experience working together (and known collectively as the “Programme for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in the SW Region of Cameroon”) provides a solid foundation for developing a landscape-wide multi-stakeholder project.
GRASP’s ambition in the Takamanda area is to develop a pilot landscape-scale approach to REDD, to protect Cross River Gorilla habitat as part of the Takamanda-Mone Landscape Project and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cameroon Biodiversity Program. This Takamanda-Mone Landscape Project TOU is implemented by WCS, in partnership with the Cameroonian government and the wider donor community.
Deforestation is responsible for approximately 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and is therefore a major contributor to climate change, but also to the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services and a direct threat to Asia’s Great Ape – the orangutan. Between 2005-2010, Indonesia had accelerating forest loss compared to 2000-2005 and is within the highest five countries for percentage of primary forest loss globally. This acceleration in forest loss not only negatively impacts on forests and biodiversity, but also on local and global ecosystem services such as water supply, human health and food security in addition to climate change mitigation. Much of the deforestation is caused by both illegal and short-term economic gains, often undermining long-term development goals.This study explores opportunities for a more sustainable pathway to development and looks for reconciliation between forest and biodiversity conservation and economic progress. It focuses on two pilot sites on the island of Sumatra, namely Tripa swamp and the mountain forests of Batang Toru, both hosting significant orangutan populations. The assessment quantifies the economic trade-offs between unsustainable and sustainable forms of land use, and considers the role of reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) and broader payment for ecosystem services (PES) schemes in achieving balanced conservation and development objectives.
Publication Forthcoming October 2011
Conservation science is increasingly recognizing the importance of ecosystem approaches to protected area management. In some cases, implementing such approaches means transcending ecologically arbitrary boundaries and managing across national boundaries. Great Ape conservation-related activities—such as tourism, law enforcement, and biodiversity monitoring—have an added benefit: they can be more comfortable objectives for transboundary collaboration than more delicate issues, such as the minerals trade and the exploitation of energy resources. In regions suffering from war and armed conflict, transboundary conservation could pave the way toward greater collaboration and stability.
Tropical rainforests throughout equatorial Africa and south-east Asia, home to the Great Apes, also provide valuable services to humanity and the planet. Wild populations of Great Apes inhabit ecosystems that not only assist in supplying water, food and medicine to human beings but also play a global role in carbon sequestration and thus combating climate change. Great Ape populations are particularly threatened due to destructive activities such as logging, expansion of agricultural land and poaching. Thus, alliances between governments have become crucial to the long-term survival of these ecosystems and the life that inhabits them.
States throughout Africa are increasingly working together to establish new transboundary Protected Areas (TBPAs). GRASP is working together with governments, implementing partners and stakeholders on a number of transboundary initiatives to preserve Great Ape habitat while encouraging sustainable economic development and peacebuilding opportunities.
By uniting various stakeholders around the theme of Great Ape conservation, the goal is also to strengthen and create positive links between actors in Great Ape Range States to enhance the level of dialogue, which can result in increased cooperation on issues beyond conservation.
GRASP encourages a conflict-sensitive approach to conservation which is particularly important in areas of long-term conflict such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d'Ivoire. Transboundary collaboration between Rwanda, Uganda and DRC in the Virunga area has led to improvements in the management and protection of gorilla populations and socio-economic development for people living around the Protected Area.
Along the Cavally River that divides south-western Côte d'Ivoire and south-eastern Liberia remain fragments of one of the most important ecosystems within the Upper Guinea Forest Region (UGFR) of West Africa. These lowland tropical forests are home to many endangered species, and provide habitat for more than a quarter of Africa's mammals, including over 20 species of primates such as the West African Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) populations, as well as several rare endemic species.
Despite decades of heavy resource extraction and civil conflicts which have depleted much of the forest cover, the UGFR is still considered to be one of the most biodiverse rich regions in the world. Currently, these important forests form the largest contiguous block of relatively intact primary tropical rainforest remaining in West Africa and offer a unique opportunity for biodiversity conservation, economic development and represent potential conflict prevention and peace-building opportunities.
GRASP is working with protected area and forest management authorities in both countries in collaborating with Flora and Fauna International, Conservation International and the UN Development Programme in Liberia and the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation in Côte d'Ivoire to undertake comprehensive field-level technical studies to stimulate ongoing national debates and political negotiations to address land titles, legislation harmonization and implementation, sustainable forest management, and wildlife populations.
The establishment of landscape corridors between the Taï National Park and the Classified Forests of Goin-Débé and Cavally in Cote d’Ivoire, as well as the Sapo National Park and Grebo National Forest in Liberia, would protect and consolidate over 13,000km2 of remaining forest cover while contributing to community development and peacebuilding efforts within the two post-conflict States.
A first step has been made in Abidjan in October 2009, where a stakeholder workshop was organized and initiatives were proposed to establish the corridor mechanism. GRASP is currently seeking funding from a variety of donors to support the transboundary process.
Visit Tai-Sapo.org for further information.
Mayombe Forest is a multi-storied, closed, dense forest, ranging from the dominant layer of tall evergreen trees (40-60m), with narrow canopy, through layers of smaller trees and shrubs with climbers, to a diversified layer of herbaceous and epiphytic plants. Most of the Mayombe Forest area has been utilized at some stage, during the last century, and it is, therefore, comprised of various phases of succession of secondary forest, up to the climax primary forest, in small remnant patches. There is a wide variety of faunal biodiversity in the Mayombe Forest including two Great Ape species; the chimpanzee and the lowland gorilla.
Following decades of unresolved, political and economic instability, and as a result of high human population densities, the Mayombe Forest (at least 2,000 square km) and its ecosystem services are subjected to a high rate of degradation mainly through heavy logging and poaching in all three countries. Although the forest provides many services, few areas benefit from protection. These are: Dimoneka Biosphere Reserve, Mont Bamba Forest Reserve, and Conkouati Reserve in the Republic of Congo, and the Luki Forest Reserve in DR Congo. Although the forest on the Angolan side is the most intact, and harbours populations of chimpanzee and gorillas, there is only the Cacongo Forest Reserve, which was gazetted in 1930 for forestry rather than conservation purposes. The ultimate objective of this initiative is to a) promote transboundary collaboration among the three countries on all issues of a transboundary nature such as climate change, economic development and law enforcement, and to b) create a trans-boundary Biosphere Reserve.
The Mayombe Forest Transboundary Initiative, aiming to protect the Mayombe Forest with the cooperation of Angola, Congo and DRC, was conceptualized in 2000, in Cabinda, Angola. UNEP mobilized initial support from the Norwegian Government, and contracted IUCN to manage the project, which was launched in Kinshasa in April 2009, and has been operational since December 2009, under the terms of the Cabinda Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Ministers of the Environment of the three countries in Cabinda in July 2009.
Kahuzi-Biega National Park (KBNP) is a World Heritage Site in danger and ranked by many organizations as amongst the protected areas with the most urgent need for management support. KBNP is located at the edge of the Congo Basin.
The KBNP is the only National Park in the Albertine Rift region which comprises the whole continuum of lowland, intermediate and highland forest from 600m to 3,300m. During the two Congo wars the highland sector lost a large portion of its gorilla population. Coltan and gold mining, bushmeat hunting - both conducted/controlled by rebels - and farming are the most imminent threats to the park. GRASP is therefore responding to these threats and strengthening the National Park authority’s limited management capacity to monitor ecosystem health. The LifeWeb project (link to section below) will help to achieve this goal, with four thematic areas being addressed, including human health, park boundary demarcation, monitoring and surveillance.
The Spain-UNEP LifeWeb initiative aims to assist the national and global implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Programme of Work on Protected Areas (CBD PoW on PA). The overall objective of the CBD PoW on PA is to encourage the “establishment, and maintenance of comprehensive, effectively managed, and ecologically representative national and regional systems of protected areas by 2010 for terrestrial and by 2012 for marine areas.”
GRASP is involved in the Terrestrial Protected Areas project approach of the Partnership. A number of projects that meet site selection criteria have been developed within Central Africa region and contribute to field activities supporting the management of PAs. Areas in the Congo Basin that will benefit from this support include Kahuzi-Biega National Park in DR Congo, Nouabalé-Ndoki in the Republic of Congo, and Takamanda in Cameroon. The Gunung Leuser National Park in Indonesia will also receive support for park management activities. The projects are designed to act as a foundation to develop follow-up projects in 2012-2013, and in most cases, co-funding is already available from partners.
Visit the Spain-UNEP Partnership for Protected Areas, in Support of Lifeweb for further information.
In May 2005, UNEP/GRASP received a grant of €3.1 Million from the European Commission to fund a major 4-year project entitled “Preservation of forest resources and improved livelihoods of forest peoples through conservation of Great Apes as flagship species”
The project had three major components:
The first Intergovernmental Meeting on Great Apes and the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) and the first GRASP Council Meeting was convened from 5-9 September 2005 in Kinshasa , Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Over 200 international delegates attended the Meeting, as well as approximately 300 delegates from the DRC. 19 of the 23 Great Ape Range States were represented. 29 NGO GRASP Partners attended, as well as three GRASP Patrons, two supporting Partners, and seven non-range State countries. The most significant output of the IGM was the adoption of the Kinshasa Declaration, a high-level political statement on the future of Great Apes. By signing this declaration, the 76 representatives - including 16 range States, 6 donor countries, 25 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) Partners, 2 Multilateral Environmental Agreements Secretariats and 2 intergovernmental organizations - pledged to do everything in their power to ensure the long-term future for all Great Ape species. Click here for more information on the IGM.
These were promoted in a variety of ways during the 4 years of the project, primarily through the Technical Support Team (TST), based in the UK and administered by the Born Free Foundation. The TST visited Great Ape Range States to meet with local experts and other stakeholders and encourage the development of such plans. This was supported by further consultation by phone and email, and financial contributions for relevant activities (such as national plan preparation and validation workshops). The TST also provided vital IT equipment to local partner NGOs for use by GRASP officials under-resourced in their own offices. In addition, the TST raised awareness of GRASP in general and the national planning process in particular through attendance at relevant international workshops and conventions, and meetings with key decision makers
The projects combined breadth of scope, in both geography and intervention techniques, with focused activities designed to achieve concrete benefits and produce replicable results. The field projects were selected from proposals submitted by GRASP Partners (all partners were invited to apply) located in an EC member country and in accordance with the EC eligibility criteria.
The sites selected for the field projects were Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia.
Read first year project report...
Read second year project report...
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