GEF Council Approves Projects on Biodiversity and Blue Carbon
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The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council approved a series of projects for the management and improvement of protected areas around the world, including innovative approaches towards coastal management that combine biodiversity conservation in coastal zones, like mangrove forests, with carbon sequestration.

10 November 2011: The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council, at its 41st Council Meeting, approved decisions on the administration of the GEF, as well as a work programme including several biodiversity-related projects on protected areas, and an innovative International Waters initiative, the “Blue Forests” effort to estimate the carbon sequestration capacity of coastal habitats like mangroves, sea grass beds, coral reefs and salt marshes, and demonstrate their economic value.

The Marine and Coastal Protected Areas project in Brazil (to be implemented by the World Bank) will significantly increase protection of its marine area by addressing unsustainable fishing practices, discharge of pollutants and industrial impact in an integrated manner. The project includes innovative financing mechanisms to generate revenues through climate change related mechanisms and payment for ecosystem services (PES).

The Main Streams of Life-Wetland Protected Area System in China, a joint program by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), another example of coastal biodiversity conservation, will create a strong national system for managing 48,962,400 hectares of wetlands, and protect an additional 1.7 million hectares containing 50 unprotected threatened species. A project in China will also secure biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in Huangshan Municipality.

Also approved were: a project in Angola for the expansion and strengthening of Angola’s protected area system (to be implemented by UNDP); one in Bolivia for the conservation and sustainable use of agro-biodiversity to improve human nutrition in five macro eco-regions (to be implemented by FAO); one in Botswana to improve the management effectiveness of the Chobe-Kwando-Linyanti matrix of protected areas (to be implemented by UNDP); a project for Eritrea for the integrated management of the Semenawi and Debubawi Bahri-Buri-Irrori- Hawakil protected area system; for Kazhakstan, a project to improve the sustainability of its protected area system through the promotion of biodiversity-compatible livelihoods in and around protected areas; in Jordan, a project to mainstream biodiversity conservation in the tourism sector; in Belize, one for the management of key biodiversity areas; in Bhutan, a project on sustainable financing of biodiversity conservation; and a grant for managing a network of protected areas in Mongolia (to be implemented by UNDP).

Regarding Sustainable Forest Management (SFM/REDD+) projects, the work programme is expected to save over 3 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in combating deforestation and forest degradation, while creating 2.5 million hectares of new protected areas, and implement sustainable management regimes across an additional 1.3 million hectares. These include the Greater Mekong Subregion Forests and Biodiversity Program, and an SFM project in Guatemala.

Grants also were approved to prepare the fifth national communications and revise national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs) for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS), including Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic (CAR), Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Kiribati, Laos, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Niue, Palau, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tanzania, Timor Leste, Togo, Tonga, Uganda, Vanuatu and Zambia.

In all, the approved work programme includes 40 stand-alone projects and nine programmatic approaches, amounting to US$516.40 million. [GEF Press Release] [Joint Summary of the Chairs]

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