For Immediate Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), together with the World Wildlife Fund – U.S. (WWF), is launching a unique four-year water security and sustainable development project across Asia in which snow leopard conservation plays a key role.
The Conservation and Adaptation in Asia’s High Mountain Landscapes and Communities Project will be implemented in Bhutan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, and Pakistan and build alliances across all countries with snow leopards. The project aims to stimulate greater understanding and action at local, national and regional levels across these snow leopard range countries to help conserve this iconic and endangered species. The project will also connect snow leopard conservation to the broader set of environmental, economic, and social issues.
“USAID recognizes the complex relationship between climate change, a healthy environment and water supplies, so this program integrates both climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation approaches. It focuses on reducing the climate-related vulnerabilities that affect both mountain communities and species such as snow leopards, while improving the water supply and biodiversity of South and Central Asia,” said Mary Melnyk, USAID’s Environment Officer for Asia.
John Farrington, WWF Program Manager, said “Temperatures in the high mountains of Asia are increasing at a faster rate than in adjacent low elevation areas. Consequently, poor high mountain communities suffer disproportionately from climate change impacts and are at greater risk. This innovative project will be the first of its kind to address wildlife conservation in these mountain communities in the context of a comprehensive, climate-smart program for improving local natural resource management, livelihoods, and water security – and it will do so in a manner that builds transnational cooperation among project nations to tackle these issues.”
The project will help motivate local communities to engage in both the conservation of snow leopards and prey species as well as sustainable management of high mountain landscapes. It will also support alternative livelihoods, such as ecotourism development, to reduce dependence on natural resources, helping empower indigenous, poor, marginalized and vulnerable communities (especially women), whose incomes often are closely linked to natural resources.
Last updated: September 19, 2014