The Wildlife Conservation Society announced today a $20 million challenge grant from philanthropist Robert W. Wilson to manage and protect some of the most biologically important wild areas left on earth.
Among the field sites targeted by WCS are: the Ndoki-Likouala rain forest in the Republic of Congo, the Sikhote-Alin and East Manchurian Mountain Ecosystem shared by both China and Russia, and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in the U.S.
In most instances, these "Living Landscapes" contain "landscape species" – wide-ranging animals whose influence on their surroundings is extensive, both biologically and culturally.
Upon receiving the grant from Mr. Wilson, WCS President Dr. Steven Sanderson said, "These areas truly represent some of the last and most important wild landscapes on earth.
Through Mr. Wilson’s visionary generosity, the Wildlife Conservation Society will be able to save them and their wildlife."
Ten initial sites identified by WCS form the basis of a new approach to conservation called "Living Landscapes" – areas with largely intact ecosystems as well as a full complement of wildlife.
In most instances, they contain "landscape species" – wide-ranging animals whose influence on their surroundings is extensive, both biologically and culturally. Forest elephants in the Congo rain forest and bison in Yellowstone are apt examples.
In total, WCS has identified more than 25 Living Landscapes worldwide. Importantly, these regions are also places where humans and animals have the potential to clash.
The Living Landscapes approach brings together local peoples, governments and the private sector to strike a strategic balance between the needs of wildlife and humans.
"I’m delighted to be able to support the Wildlife Conservation Society’s efforts to protect these extraordinary regions," Mr. Wilson said.
"The organization has an outstanding track record of saving wildlife and wild places around the world. "I have made this gift as a challenge grant to inspire other donors to join me in supporting WCS’s innovative efforts."
Dr. Sanderson said, "Mr. Wilson’s extraordinary grant will allow the Wildlife Conservation Society to build on its model conservation programs at these important sites.
The support enables us to focus on long-term, sustainable management, and to develop close working relationships with the people who live there.
Working for the long-term and building alliances will result in more powerful conservation solutions."
Many of the areas included in the Living Landscapes initiative already contain protected areas. However, the biological needs of landscape species – seasonal migration patterns, for example – often take them outside existing parks and reserves to areas where logging, mining and agriculture predominate.
The Living Landscapes approach specifically targets these areas beyond park boundaries.
Through analysis of resident human population requirements, coupled with a thorough understanding of the needs of landscape species, the Wildlife Conservation Society can effect successful action.
Its conservationists have spent decades establishing the science and trust necessary to make this new approach work.
The Wilson grant will also be used to help fund a variety of other WCS conservation efforts. The organization supports some 350 projects in more than 50 countries.
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild lands. They do so through careful science, international conservation, education, and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo.
Together, these activities change individual attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in sustainable interaction on both a local and global scale.
The WCS believes our ability to perpetuate such a world is intrinsic to the integrity of life on Earth.
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SOURCE: The Wildlife Conservation Society
CONTACT: PATRICK MILLIMAN
Web Site: http://wcs.org/3422/50897
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