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51 globally threatened species get new lease on life in the Caucasus

Tbilisi, Georgia (25 May 2004, 0200 GMT) - WWF, the conservation organization, and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) today announced a CEPF investment strategy and a high-level advisory council of governmental and nongovernmental representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Russia and Turkey to help conserve the rich natural resources of the region.

Support for the council is a strategic part of a new regional coordination approach, led by the WWF Caucasus Programme, to ensure success of CEPF's $8.5 million investment strategy. CEPF will award grants to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other civil society groups working to safeguard high-priority areas for conservation in the region, which spans the area between the Black and Caspian seas.

"These new developments will pull together partners from across the region, enabling an inclusive approach for planning and action across political boundaries that can be obstacles to successful conservation," said Giorgi Sanadiradze, director of the WWF Caucasus Programme.

A regional approach involving multiple stakeholders is also vital to effectively address the broader social, economic and policy factors essential to results that benefit both nature and people.

The forests, high mountain ecosystems and arid landscapes of the Caucasus contain more than twice the animal diversity found in adjacent regions of Europe and Asia. However, biodiversity of the Caucasus is being lost at an alarming rate. Human activities have transformed nearly half of the lands. Fifty-one species are at risk, including the Critically Endangered Saiga antelope, Siberian crane and Baltic (Atlantic) sturgeon.

CEPF investments will focus on conserving these 51 globally threatened species, the majority of which are found in specific sites in five target areas: Greater Caucasus, Caspian, West Lesser Caucasus, East Lesser Caucasus and Hyrcan.

The announcement came as part of
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Contact: Bobbie Jo Kelso
bkelso@conservation.org
202-369-2031
Conservation International
24-May-2004


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