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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

$5m Bezos Earth Fund to protect Africa, South America’s biodiversity hotspots

BirdLife International on behalf of the Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) Partnership on Monday, December 6, 2021, received $5 million from the Bezos Earth Fund in a bid to map and contribute to conserving and protecting the most important sites for nature in Africa’s Congo Basin and South America’s Tropical Andes. The work is said to be critical to address Earth’s twin biodiversity and climate crises.

Patricia Zurita
BirdLife International CEO, Patricia Zurita

“We know that the Congo Basin and Tropical Andes contain some of the most important biodiversity and carbon sinks in the world today, but nobody can pinpoint the precise locations of importance on a map – which means those places can’t be adequately conserved and protected.

“Through national coordination groups of stakeholders, including Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, our work over the next two years will provide national and local governments, NGOs and the international community with desperately needed tools to fight the loss of nature, species extinctions and climate change,” said BirdLife International CEO, Patricia Zurita.

Ensuring that decision-makers from government, the private sector and civil society know where these sites are, and have easy access to site information, is essential to the effective planning of investments in conservation, infrastructure, and sustainable economic development.

“The Bezos Earth Fund shares BirdLife’s determination to place nature at the heart of addressing the urgent, existential climate and biodiversity emergencies,” added Zurita.

KBAs are critical to sustaining life on our planet – the most important places for nature and Earth’s species and ecosystems, identified using a common global standard.

By strengthening and expanding KBA networks in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Gabon, Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo, the funding will help prevent species extinction and ecosystem collapse, enhance carbon storage and sequestration, support adaptation to climate change, and underpin the sustainable delivery of ecosystem services to people, especially indigenous and local communities.

This experience can then rapidly be replicated and scaled up to further conserve and protect areas of high biodiversity importance globally.

BirdLife International has 100 years of scientific expertise and experience illustrating how birds act as biodiversity indicators. The wealth of scientific data BirdLife have developed on bird distributions and migrations helps rapidly identify the most critical remaining sites for threatened biodiversity.

Many of these sites are said to be irreplaceable, and all are critical to sustaining life on the planet.  Many identified KBAs are also located in high-carbon ecosystems, ensuring that the initiatives will provide both biodiversity and climate benefits.

“We’re proud that BirdLife is among the recipients in this round of Bezos Earth Fund grants, which is squarely focused on conserving land and sea, restoring degraded land, and advancing climate justice,” said Zurita.

The Bezos Earth Fund also announced support for “Conserva Aves” (Conserve Birds), an innovative coalition between BirdLife International and its American partners National Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy as well as RedLAC, a network of 27 environmental funds in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This initiative will establish and strengthen 30-40 new protected sites (450-600,000 hectares, or 1.11 to 1.48 million acres) critical for threatened and migratory bird species in the Tropical Andes by 2027.

Launched in 2020, the Bezos Earth Fund is a $10 billion commitment to fund scientists, activists, NGOs and private-sector entities that are taking critical action to combat the climate crisis, preserve and protect the natural world and support climate justice.

The 13 member KBA Partnership comprises BirdLife International, International Union for Conservation of Nature, American Bird Conservancy, Amphibian Survival Alliance, Conservation International, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Global Environment Facility, Global Wildlife Conservation, NatureServe, Rainforest Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, World Wildlife Fund, and Wildlife Conservation Society.

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