Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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New wildlife projects to help world's poorest communities

New wildlife projects to help world's poorest communities

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (37/09) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 19 February 2009

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn will today announce how more than £8 million for wildlife conservation projects will be allocated across the developing world.

The 43 projects under Defra's Darwin Initiative, which gives money and UK expertise to help start up and extend wildlife conservation projects in developing countries, include activities as diverse as the conservation of chameleons in Madagascar and the restoration of habitats in small Pacific islands.

Hilary Benn visited a Darwin Initiative project in Kenya earlier this week that has helped give rural communities a voice to protect their own wildlife, through helping make educational videos on why their wildlife is so valuable. Mr Benn is attending the Governing Council of the United Nations Environmental Programme in Nairobi.

Funding will consist of:

* A total of over £7 million over three years for 30 new projects; and
* A total of over £1.5 million over two years for 13 existing projects to continue and expand their work.

Hilary Benn said:

"Seeing the commitment of local people in Naivasha to the protection of their biodiversity and of Lake Naivasha was really inspiring.

"I hope the projects we are announcing today will be as successful over the next three years. These projects are vital not just in helping the world's biodiversity and wildlife, but in also opening up new opportunities for local communities.

"This year's 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species celebrates the start of modern-day conservation, and today's announcement will help continue his legacy."

The Local Community-based Biodiversity Conservation Films project Hilary Benn saw in Naivasha, is run in both Kenya and Tanzania, and helps local conservationists make and edit films with local communities by explaining the importance of biodiversity to their lives and livelihoods.

Notes to Editors

Details of the Project

1. While in Naivasha, Kenya, Hilary Benn saw the 'Local Community-based Biodiversity Conservation Films' project. Run in Kenya and Tanzania, the project trains local conservationists how to make and edit films, and distribute them through existing Education Centres. These help the conservationists to help educate their communities about the importance of biodiversity to their lives and livelihoods.

2. Hilary Benn viewed some of the films made by the group including one of the original film-making trainees who is now being trained to be a conservation film-maker. He also discussed with members of the local community how these films have helped change their views of the benefits of the environment.

3. The University of Leicester is working in partnership with Kenyan wildlife groups including Nature Kenya (the main national biodiversity conservation NGO, the National Museums of Kenya, and with regional partners. In Naivasha these include the Lake Naivasha Riparian Association, the Koibatek County Council, the Friends of Kinangop, and the African Conservation Centre.
Darwin Initiative

4. Since its launch in 1992, the Darwin Initiative has committed £65 million to 601 projects in more than 146 countries. The latest round of funding was announced on 30 June 2008, with proposals for new projects invited.

5. The Darwin Advisory Committee (Chaired by Professor David MacDonald of Oxford University) consists of experts from government, academia, science and the private sector, and advises Ministers on development of the Initiative and makes recommendations for funding.

6. The Advisory committee overseas all projects, and each project has a UK adviser such as the University of Leicester.

7. Details of all the 43 new Darwin Initiative projects can be found at Examples include the restoration of habitats in Pacific islands; and developing 'environmental corridors' in Belize to help conserve large mammals. They also include projects to address biodiversity conservation in the UK's Overseas Territories.

8. To celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the Origin of Species, this year organisations across the United Kingdom are planning a wide variety of events. Defra is one of the many partners involved in Darwin200, and further details of the events planned can be found at

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