The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) in the East Melanesian Islands Hotspot has announced its Fourth Call for Proposals for biodiversity conservation projects in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and the islands region of Papua New Guinea. IUCN Oceania is now inviting Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) from non-governmental organizations, community groups, private companies and other civil society organizations working in the East Melanesian Hotspot.
Since the launch of its investment program in 2013, CEPF has announced three calls for which over a 100 applications were received and over 40 projects are currently supported. "CEPF hopes to further strengthen its assistance to local communities through its granting mechanism by enabling civil society to find solutions that will help to protect the region's rich biodiversity whilst safeguarding the many benefits that species and intact natural systems provide for human livelihoods", said Helen Pippard, IUCN Oceania's Species Officer and manager of the CEPF East Melanesian Islands RIT. The region's biodiversity is under threat by accelerating levels of habitat loss caused by widespread commercial logging and mining, expansion of subsistence and plantation agriculture, human population growth, over-exploitation of natural resources, invasive species and the impacts of climate change.
IUCN Oceania, as the RIT, is overseeing CEPF's investment to support conservation in 20 key biodiversity areas covering an area of 1.5 million hectares. There is significant focus on capacity building for local and national civil society through partnerships, networks and mentoring. According to Taholo Kami, IUCN Oceania's Regional Director, "This focus on capacity building represents our sustainability strategy for the hotspot in that through these projects, we are building a constituency of local conservation actors who are able to develop stronger links and partnerships, and working hand in hand in the long term to make conservation work in East Melanesia".
CEPF's funding is delivered as small (