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New UN Tool Demonstrates Benefits of Protecting Apes

14 April 2016 | United Nations Environment Programme News Release

Monrovia – A new web-based tool, launched in Liberia’s capital Wednesday, shows how protecting great apes in Africa and Asia can help countries fight climate change. The online app superimposes maps of great ape ranges and of forest carbon stocks, allowing policymakers to better identify conservation priority areas.

The tool was launched by the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) and the United Nations Collaborative Programme for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD Programme).The GRASP – REDD+ Mapping Project was introduced at the GRASP Regional Meeting – West Africa, which brought together partners from nine West African countries to discuss key conservation issues in the region.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said “Collaborative efforts are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Addressing both great ape habitat conservation and forest protection through the cooperation between these two UNEP supported global programmes is a prime example of a more integrated approach to sustainability that demonstrates the potential for co-benefits.”

Harrison S. Karnwea, Managing Director of Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA) called the GRASP-REDD+ Mapping Project an importance resource.

“This will help us a great deal here in Liberia,” he said. “It will help us in determining which areas are important and should receive our highest priority. Conservation is a great resource, and applying it scientifically in this way is very innovative.”

The GRASP – REDD+ Mapping Project is designed to identify priority areas for implementing REDD projects while also considering co-benefits for the conservation of great apes. The maps are designed to help decision-makers, climate specialists and conservation organizations access data and link the carbon and great ape layers with other context data.

GRASP and UN-REDD worked with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology to develop the on-line tool, which can be accessed through the Ape Populations, Environments and Surveys (A.P.E.S.) database, a web-based decision support system

“It is increasingly important that conservation efforts work closely together, particularly in areas of mutual concern,” said GRASP coordinator Doug Cress. “You cannot protect apes in Africa or Asia without also protecting the forests in which they live, and this project does an excellent job of emphasizing the overlap. GRASP and UN-REDD have a number of shared priorities, and we will further intensify our collaboration.”

The GRASP-REDD+ Mapping Project places special emphasis on potential corridor areas that could link fragmented and endangered great ape populations and have the potential for reforestation.

Carbon stocks in forests perform essential ecological functions and supply clean water and air. The loss of these stocks through agricultural development, logging and fires can account for up to 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In order to limit the impacts of climate change, it will be necessary to reduce emissions from the forest sector.

Further Resources

For more information about endangered species go to
Find organizations saving endangered species at Saving Endangered
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Find organizations saving endangered tigers at Saving Endangered

Bagheera is Produced by Endangered Species Journalist Craig Kasnoff

to Promote the Plight of Endangered Species and the Efforts to Save Them.