Securing Key Landscapes for the Iconic Cat Also Helps Livelihoods and Climate Resilience
BISHKEK, June 18, 2014 – Officials and experts from the snow leopard range countries came together to identify 20 mountain landscapes across Asia to be protected through intensive conservation efforts and green economic growth over the next 6 years. The delegates gathered at the pristine Lake Issyk‐Kul in the lap of the Kyrgyz Tien Shan Mountains.
This was a follow up to the Global Snow Leopard Conservation Forum held in October 2013, under the leadership of Almazbek Atambaev, President of the Kyrgyz Republic.
The workshop was the first followup collective action by the range countries and partners after adopting the Bishkek Declaration and endorsing the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystems Protection (GSLEP) Program during the Forum.
The countries agreed to develop landscape management plans to guide action to help conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services, while enabling inclusive economic growth in these mountain landscapes. A third of humanity depends on clean water and other ecosystem services provided by the snow leopard mountains of Asia.
Brad Rutherford, Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT), congratulated the delegates for their resolve to secure 20 landscapes by 2020. “This is a significant first step in realizing the vision of snow leopard conservation and the inclusive growth of local communities shared by President Almazbek Atambayev, the snow leopard range countries, and the international conservation community.”
“The problem of snow leopard conservation is complicated and complex, and cannot be solved by the environmental agencies only. It requires personal participation of leaders of our countries on cross‐border cooperation, and involvement of various sectors of the economy and the private sector. The need of the hour is to coordinate the efforts of all the range states of the snow leopard, because our strength is in the unity of approaches and actions,” said Joomart Jumabekov, Head of the Department of Agriculture and Ecology of the Government Office of the Kyrgyz Republic.
The workshop was organized by the international working secretariat that has been established in Bishkek after the global forum to facilitate further development of the GSLEP Program among the range countries.
Sabir Atadjanov, Director of the State Agency on Environment Protection and Forestry under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic remarked, “I am deeply grateful for the support of the range countries to the initiative of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic in holding the Global Forum on snow leopard conservation. I am pleased to announce the launch of Working Secretariat in Bishkek and pledge continued support to its activities. We also welcome and fully support the development of the first two‐year implementation plan with specific priorities within the GSLEP, including national and global priority actions for 2014‐15 as well as the development of key performance indicators.”
“It was an informative workshop which will lead the way towards the conservation of snow leopards, a species of global significance, while working towards improving the lives of local communities,” said Syed Mubarik Ali Shah, Chief Conservator Wildlife, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Department, Pakistan.
Irina Fominykh, Deputy Director, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, said, “Our efforts to safeguard endangered flagship species and their habitats are strongly supported at the highest political levels in Russia, and we are happy to join forces and exchange knowledge with other range countries participating in the global programs such as on tigers and snow leopards. I am confident that the new Big Cats Project, now under preparation at the Russian Far East, South Siberia, and the Caucasus, will be an important building block of these efforts – nationally and globally.”
“Following our experience with the Global Tiger Initiative, the urgent task after the global forum is to start translating the strong political will into concrete ‘bankable’ projects with a measurable impact on the ground that could be supported by the range country governments, businesses, and the international community. The Issyk‐Kul meeting has indeed switched our conversation to a very concrete, project‐oriented mode,” emphasized Andrey Kushlin, Program Manager at the World Bank.
“UNDP, in consortium with other international organizations, has been supporting efforts of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic in conserving its biodiversity and natural heritage and in this regard it is riveting to see that within the scope of the Global Snow Leopard Conservation Programme, the range countries have actively embarked upon implementing specific locally tailored measures such as cross‐border cooperation and establishment of a reliable system of coordination and monitoring of the snow leopard habitats. Moreover, biodiversity conservation is prioritized in the National Strategy on Sustainable Development of the Kyrgyz Republic and I am confident that jointly we’ll achieve significant results towards conservation of these unique species,” said Alexander Avanessov, UN Resident Coordinator and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Mary Melnyk, Environment Team Leader for Asia at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said, “Snow leopard habitat overlaps the headwaters of Asia’s great rivers. USAID’s investment in their conservation has many benefits, including healthy lives and livelihoods for high‐mountain communities and a sustained water source for people living on farms and in towns and cities downstream, many of whom are extremely poor. Sustaining water supplies is critically important in a world experiencing climate change.”
Keshav Varma, Senior Advisor to the GSLEP Secretariat, underlined the strong sense of collective urgency, “Saving snow leopards is not just about the beautiful cats. Saving snow leopards also means preserving the heritage, livelihoods, and traditional ways of life of mountain cultures while bringing ecologically responsible economic development into their fragile landscapes, and we must act now.”
More than 40 delegates from 10 range countries and multiple international organizations participated in the workshop held from 6‐10 June, which included intensive sessions on landscape identification, management planning, law enforcement, and conservation leadership. Various organizations played a role, including the State Agency of Environmental Protection and Forestry under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, Global Environment Facility, Global Tiger Initiative, INTERPOL, NABU, Snow Leopard Network, Snow Leopard Trust, United Nations Development Programme, United States Agency for International Development, World Bank, and World Wide Fund for Nature.
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