Announcing the 2016 projects funded by the CCI Collaborative Fund for Conservation

18th August 2016

Following a meeting of the CCI Collaborative Fund for Conservation Selection Panel, CCI is pleased to be able to announce the projects chosen by the panel to receive funding from the Collaborative Fund in 2016.

This year we are delighted that we are able to support more projects than ever; seven innovative projects have been selected to receive funding. This is thanks to the continuing generosity of Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, and also to new support from the Rothschild Foundation and Isaac Newton Trust.

Congratulations to the following projects:

The role of ‘other effective area-based conservation measures’ in achieving Aichi Target 11

Aichi Target 11 has committed world governments to conserving, by 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland waters. To meet this target, areas outside of the formal protection network, or ‘other effective area-based conservation measures’ (OECMs) will be needed. OECMs include approaches such as locally managed marine areas and indigenous reserves. As maps of OECMS are not readily available, this project, involving BirdLife International, UNEP-WCMC, RSPB, IUCN, The University of Cambridge departments of Geography and Zoology, and the Natural Justice & IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas Task Force on Other Effective Area-based Mechanisms, will harness local knowledge from national conservation organisations to assess the current role of OECMs in conserving key biodiversity areas. This will identify a network of ‘areas of particular importance for biodiversity’ which are not currently formally protected. We will also assess the potential for different types of OECMs to fill gaps in protected area coverage and conservation management. The project’s results will feed into guidance that is being developed for governments.

No such thing as a cheap lunch? Quantifying tradeoffs between yield and environmental externalities in food production systems

How can we feed a rapidly expanding human population without causing further grave damage to biodiversity? Many argue that the environmental impact of farming might be best limited by linking high farm yields, with sparing natural habitats elsewhere. However, there is a widespread if as-yet untested perception that high-yielding farming techniques involve larger environmental externalities (such as greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient and freshwater depletion) than lower-yielding methods, producing the same quantity of goods. This project, involving The University of Cambridge department of Zoology, RSPB, Sainsbury laboratory and The University of Cambridge Veterinary School, will systematically test this proposition across four important agricultural sectors, identify especially promising farming systems characterised by relatively high yields but limited environmental costs, and develop and implement a novel technique for the robust integration of externalities into land-use planning.

Conserving wild pollinators and increasing food security by strengthening the sustainable management of company supply chains

A diverse community of pollinators provides the most effective and stable crop pollination, but research suggests that wild pollinators are in decline. Commercial agriculture and crop procurement companies have a vested interest in maintaining pollinator services, but are currently unresponsive to this issue. Focusing on the procurement of pollinator-dependent crops, the purpose of this project, which brings together UNEP-WCMC, FFI, CISL and The University of East Anglia, is to catalyse private sector action to support the conservation of wild pollinator populations. For instance, this will promote good practice to ensure sustainable sourcing of pollinator-dependent crops. Project outputs will be shared with national level policy makers in targeted countries.

Unusual suspects: what contributions can biodiversity conservation organisations make to the Sustainable Development Goals?

Environmental issues underpin several SDG goals, and it is important to recognise the cross-cutting contribution that environmental strategies can make. This project, which involves The University of Cambridge department of Geography, BirdLife International, RSPB, FFI and IIED, will undertake an analysis of a portfolio of recent/current CCI member-led programmes through a review of project documents and project manager interviews. Initial scoping suggests that these projects contribute to a diverse set of SDGs – but how significant are these contributions, are they measurable, and could conservation projects be designed in ways which increase their SDG relevant impact? The project draws upon the experience of CCI organisations to identify the key questions that need to be answered regarding biodiversity conservation and the SDGs, and in so doing will help to set a future agenda for research.

Estimating the relative environmental footprints of palm oil and potential alternatives

This project, a collaboration between RSPB, UNEP-WCMC, BirdLife International and The University of Cambridge department of Plant Sciences, aims to produce the first assessment of the relative environmental costs of vegetable oil production across all the world’s production systems, to identify particularly damaging or benign production systems, and to allow comparison of environmental costs between crops and regions. It will then relate this assessment to current EU consumption and consider whether consumption could be met in a less environmentally damaging way by more strategic sourcing. The results will be combined with those of a previous CCI-funded project on the effects of certification to develop policy recommendations for the sustainable sourcing of oil crops.

Evaluating the success of carbon projects aimed at protecting tropical forests and benefiting local livelihoods

It is becoming clear that protecting swathes of tropical forest through REDD+ schemes presents diverse and significant challenges. Nevertheless, the collaborators involved with this proposal, FFI, RSPB, Permian Global, South East Asian Rainforest Research Partnership,  Brazilian National Research Agency and The University of Cambridge departments of Geography, Zoology and Plant Sciences, believe that carbon projects can play an important role in the sustainable management of tropical forests. The project aims to answer fundamentally important questions surrounding the effectiveness and impact of the current carbon-based mechanisms designed to avoid deforestation and degradation. It will assess the performance of carbon-focused interventions in their ability to reduce deforestation whilst benefitting local livelihoods and biodiversity. This will produce guidelines to inform the ongoing evolution of REDD+, as well as emerging carbon-focussed activities within the business sector such as impact investment and zero-deforestation supply chains.

The Missing Conservation Knowledge Product: measuring and mitigating threats and pressures on biodiversity

Data on threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services are available in multiple locations, on numerous systems, and in a plethora of formats and scales. This makes using the available data in a concerted effort to address multiple threats in one place or one threat in many places impossible for any scientist or practitioner. This project, a collaboration between UNEP-WCMC, IUCN, BirdLife International, The University of Cambridge department of Zoology, Microsoft Research, ZSL, WWF UK, the Luc Hoffman Institute, and The University of Oxford, will mobilise existing but sparse and hardly accessible metadata on threats, and will allow conservation scientists and practitioners to analyse and digitize threat maps in a workshop setting. This will facilitate targeted research to close these knowledge gaps and strengthen efforts to mitigate or eradicate threats entirely. It will employ state-of-art mapping and data visualisation software, and also build upon recent significant investment to develop the user-friendly Microsoft Research/ IUCN Conservation Mapping tool. Threat data that has been mapped to the Conservation Evidence website will be linked, so that practitioners can find the relevant knowledge on how to solve a particular threat.