At the Global Snow Leopard Forum, hosted by the President of Kyrgyzstan in October 2013, the snow leopard range countries had set the goal of securing 20 landscapes for the cats by 2020 – but many questions remained.
Would we really see 20 landscapes identified? When? Where would they be located? How big might they be?
This June, the countries met again at a workshop in the Kyrgyz Republic to take the next steps and answer these questions.
“At the workshop, the countries put all those question to rest by identifying 20 large landscapes to be secured – a total of more than 500,000 square kilometers” reports Brad Rutherford, Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Trust.
“It was clear from the beginning of the workshop that the countries were sincere in their commitment. The number and size of the identified landscapes is great. When it is all said and done I think we’ll see more than 20 landscapes identified, which really demonstrates their commitment to snow leopard conservation.”
More details on the landscapes will be made available soon.
The range countries also drafted 2 year action plans that specify the steps to be taken to define the landscapes and understand the current on the ground situation in each of the 20 landscapes.
The good news keep on coming – in the form of $1 million
Shortly after the Workshop concluded, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) approved a $1 million project to support initiatives at the Trans boundary landscape level.
They include knowledge generation and sharing among range countries, developing a monitoring framework for snow leopard ecosystems, and promoting financial sustainability and partnership across the range, particularly in the Central Asia region.
Building on the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program, which is a collaborative work of all, the project concept was put together by UNDP as the GEF Agency in a very short time frame, utilizing the GEF-5 resources for global and regional projects.
All involved hope this investment of GEF funds will leverage further resources to implement the important actions to conserve the snow leopard and the mountain ecosystem, and also help coordinate the country level initiatives that are planned with GEF and other funding.
The infusion of $1 million in GEF funds for snow leopard conservation gives everyone involved even more incentive to be successful.
“The development and implementation of the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program has been a challenge, but to date the results have exceeded expectations“, says Brad Rutherford. “The Program is definitely making progress towards its ultimate goal of Securing 20 or more landscapes by 2020.”