Our forests and grasslands harbor vast biodiversity and mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. Despite the enormous value of these ecosystems, we are losing our wildlands at a rapid rate along with countless species who depend on them.
Currently just 15% of our forests and wildlands around the world are formally protected, and many of these areas are significantly degraded from illegal logging and agriculture conversion. LDF is committed to scaling up the true protection of critical eco-regions around the world, connecting often isolated islands of habitat and restoring key areas and threatened wildlife populations. We support efforts on the ground where organizations are working closely with local and indigenous communities and governments to build successful, long-term solutions that both protect natural habitat and improve the lives of the people that live there.
Since 2010, LDF has been supporting World Wildlife Fund’s tiger conservation work in the Terai Arc of Nepal. Through increased enforcement of Banke and Bardia National Parks, community driven conservation activities and forest restoration efforts, tiger numbers have more than doubled and poaching incidents of tigers and rhinos are at a record low.
LDF partner Saving Species is identifying and securing opportunities to connect and expand often fragmented protected areas that are home to threatened species. This past year they expanded a cloud forest reserve in Colombia’s Andean mountains, connected a fragmented forest in northwest Ecuador (home to the endangered capuchin monkey), and restored key areas of Brazil’s Atlantic forest (habitat of the endangered black lion tamarin).
To combat the complex threats facing elephants, LDF partnered with Wildlife Conservation Network and Save the Elephants to create the Elephant Crisis Fund. To date, the ECF has granted $9.7 million to 141 projects in 30 different countries with a goal of protecting elephants in the field and ending the trafficking and demand for ivory. For the first time since the ivory crisis escalated, birth rates for elephants have exceeded death rates from poaching, a sign that the effort is working. WCN is now working closely with LDF on creating a similar fund for lions, another species on the brink, that aims to secure and expand protected habitat for lions across Africa.
LDF ACTION HIGHLIGHTS
· Thanks to the efforts of Defenders of Wildlife and the Pacific Wolf Coalition, gray wolves have returned to the American Pacific Northwest where they were once extinct – there are now 32 wolf packs thriving in the region.
· LDF launched a fund to support an array of grassroots organizations in northern Sumatra that are working together to protect the Leuser ecosystem, a vast rainforest that stores immense amounts of carbon and is home to tigers, orangutans, rhinos and elephants.
· Following the successful reintroduction of several species including tapirs, Conservation Land Trust has initiated a breeding program for Jaguars in Argentina’s Ibera National Park with a long-term goal of releasing the big cats back into the wild.
· Critically endangered Black Rhinos are making a comeback in a reserve in Tanzania where 6 new calves were born this year. The growing adult population of Rhinos is thriving alongside African wild dogs, elephants, giraffes and many other species.
· A new collaboration of the indigenous peoples of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Russia, is working to secure 20 critical snow leopard populations by 2020.