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  1. Cardamom National Park 2021 Progress Report
    February 12, 2022

    Global Conservation is supporting Wildlife Alliance's work on the ground in Central Cardamom Mountains National Park (CCMNP). Read on to discover more about their activities over the past year!

    Wildlife Alliance

    Thanks to GC's support, the 6-Ranger Global Park Defense System (GPDS) Unit embedded within the Roveang Patrol Station have worked together to install GPDS trailcams, monitoring key areas, and patrolled to crack down on poachers, loggers and land grabbers. The rangers patrolled systematically and in response to GPDS trailcams.

    Summary of Patrolling Results

    • 475 patrols and 72 night ambushes
    • 19,155 km covered
    • 584 snares removed
    • 315 m of nets removed
    • 42 live wildlife rescued
    • 61 homemade guns seized

    The rangers were able to ensure protection of the Roveang quadrant and cracked down on wildlife poaching, seized large numbers of snares, nets and guns, as well as combatted high levels of land grabbing and logging that is causing deforestation of the wildlife habitat. 

    Summary of Logging and Forestland Grabbing Crackdown Results

    • 277 illegal camps dismantled
    • 450 cubic meters of timber and 204 logs seized
    • 481 chainsaws seized
    • All 12 land encroachment cases stopped and 5 heavy machineries seized
    • 65 oxcarts and 71 mechanical buffalos (koyuns) seized
    • 19 land grabbers and 31 loggers arrested with 29 court cases
    • 25.67 ha deforestation stopped (Jul 1-Dec 23, 2021)

    Numbers of seized chainsaws and timber were much higher than the baseline. In the Roveang Quadrant, the majority of forest crimes are illegal loggers and forestland grabbers attempting to clear the forest.

    The rangers will continue to crack down on both poachers and loggers in the area.

    Trailcam installation

    All 10 Trailcams of the targeted 10 were purchased and placed at the same strategic trail locations of the previous grant in proximity to Roveang Patrol Station, along the Northern border of the Central Cardamoms National Park and the Biodiversity Corridor, focused around community areas.

    The cameras were installed on 2 different networks that are available in the area, utilizing a cell phone coverage map, to ensure that they were in areas with sufficient reception to transmit the images to the GPDS ranger team.

    Rangers installing trailcams

    One of the photos captured by trailcams which helped rangers to strategize their crackdown operations.

    GPDS Success Stories

    The combination of GPDS technology alerts and deployment of rangers on the ground has proven successful as follows:

    On December 21, 2021, in response to a GPDS alert, the Roveang Patrol Unit followed the track of a suspect inside of the protected area. The Patrol Unit encountered a man who claimed himself as the owner of illegally cleared forestland. The team immediately arrested the suspect and brought him to Roveang station then to Pursat Provincial Department of Environment to complete legal documentation. Next day, the offender was brought to the Court with court case submitted on illegal land encroachment inside PA. The offender was jailed following article 62.1 of the Protected Area Law, imprisonment term from 5 – 10 years.

    On November 6, 2021, the Roveang Patrol Unit conducted law enforcement monitoring at Khnorng Real area and found a suspected freshly clearing forestland. Because this area has already been included in the case to the court, the Patrol Unit immediately sought approval from the Prosecutor to arrest and bring the offender to the Court. The offenders ended up in jail following article 62.1 of the Protected Area Law, imprisonment term from 5 – 10 years.

    On August 22-25, 2021, in response to a GPDS alert, the Roveang Patrol Unit tracked some people entering the protected area. They found:

    • 13 chainsaws (confiscated)
    • 9 illegal logging/poaching camps (destroyed)
    • 1 AK-47 with 21 bullets (confiscated)
    • 4 homemade guns (confiscated)
    • 2 sets of electrocute tools (for hunting wildlife, confiscated)

    The offenders ran away by the time the Patrol Unit arrived. The evidence was confiscated to Roveang Station.

    On August 6, 2021, in response to our informant about an illegal stock of luxury timber (Thnung), the Roveang Patrol Unit led by PDoE Chuon Pheap checked an abandoned house and found 8.48 cubic meters of luxury timber, 1 chainsaw and a suspect. Both evidence and suspect were taken to Phnom Samkos Ranger Station for completion of a court case. The offender ended up in jail.

    On July 14, 2021, after an informant provided information about a logging truck, the Roveang Patrol Unit approached the reported location and found 2 logging trucks. Because of difficult road access, the Judicial Police Officer of the Patrol Unit made a request to destroy the trucks on site. 

    On July 10-11, 2021, in response to GPDS alert, Roveang Patrol Unit followed the track of suspects inside Central Cardamom National Park in Phnom Kravanh district, Pursat province and found the following evidence:

    • 3 chainsaws (confiscated)
    • 1 turtle (0.7kg, alive-released)
    • 1 monitor lizard (dead, burnt)
    • 2 sets of electrocute tools (for hunting wildlife, confiscated)
    • 1 oxcart (burnt)
    • 4 chainsaws (confiscated)
    • 1 homemade gun (confiscated)
    • 1 AK-47 (confiscated)
    • 3 illegal logging/poaching camps (destroyed)
    • 2 pigeons (alive, released)
    • 50 hook snares (confiscated)
    • 0.720 cubic meters of construction wood (destroyed on site)

    The offenders ran away by the time of the Patrol Unit arrival. The evidence was confiscated and live wildlife was released on site next to the water.

    On July 5, 2021, upon receipt of a GPDS alert, the Roveang Patrol Unit strategized an ambush along a logging trail and encountered 3 suspects with 3 motorbikes transporting wildlife out of Cardamoms Conservation Biodiversity Corridor. Immediately after stopping the suspects’ motorbikes, the Patrol Unit checked and found the following evidence:

    • 5 turtles
    • 3 forest monitor lizards
    • 3 soft-shell turtles
    • 1 set of electrocution tools (for catching wild animals)
    • 2 batteries (40Amp) for the electrocution tool
    • 2 slingshots

    The evidence and the suspects were taken to Roveang Station for further legal procedures. The wild animals were released on site in good health condition. The 3 suspects were sent to jail following article 61.6 of the Protected Area Law, imprisonment term from 1 – 5 years.

    Species Facing Extinction

    In Cardamom National Park, we are working with our partners to protect the clouded leopard and Sunda pangolin.

    Global Conservation is funding a multi-year Species Population Baseline study for clouded leopards and Sunda pangolins to ascertain progress in Park and Wildlife Protection from our investments in Global Park Defense in Cardamom National Park.

    Sunda Pangolin

    So few of these mysterious animals remain that scientists have been unable to estimate their population.  Sunda pangolins are one of the world's most trafficked mammals. Over a million pangolins worldwide are estimated to have been poached from the wild since 2000, and they are predicted to decline by an additional 80% within the next two decades if they are not protected. GC is working across five national parks and World Heritage Sites in Asia to help save this critically endangered species.

    Clouded Leopard

    There are two species of clouded leopard in the world, and GC sites have both of them! Just a few thousand individuals of both clouded leopard species remain across their ever-shrinking range in Asia. Illegal hunting for their skins and other body parts, habitat fragmentation due to human developments, and a lack of effective conservation efforts has led these animals to be listed as Vulnerable.  Just 3,700-5,580 clouded leopards and 4,500 Sunda clouded leopards remain in the world.

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  2. Cardamom National Park, Cambodia
    February 5, 2022

    Introduction

    The Cardamom Mountains. The name evokes images of fervid green hills enveloped in mist, full of wild creatures that roam in the forest’s gloaming. That’s not far from the reality; Cardamom National Park and its surrounding mountains contain Southeast Asia’s largest surviving rainforest, a vast, exceptionally diverse wilderness which remains mostly unexplored.

    One might imagine that the Cardamom Mountains still harbor the ghosts of the Khmer Rouge, who left this forest just over two decades ago. In the uneasy peace that followed the Cambodian Civil War, the Cardamom Mountains suffered rampant logging, poaching, and slash-and-burn agriculture as people struggled to find their way in this post-conflict era. The areas that survived that period, however, remain one of Southeast Asia’s most pristine expanses of wilderness.

    Two hundred million hectares of rainforest once covered southern Asia, but only about 10 million hectares are left. One-fifth of that remaining forest is in Cambodia. 

    The Prek Khlang Yai Delta is the gateway to Cardamom National Park on the Cambodian border with Thailand.

    Natural Heritage

    Cardamom National Park was gazetted in 2016, owing to the work of our partner, Wildlife Alliance.

    The park consists of over 800,000 hectares of dense monsoon forest, melaleuca wetlands, mangroves, and a vast network of estuaries and rivers that course across the mountain slopes and into the Gulf of Thailand.

    The Cardamom rainforest has the greatest watershed value of any forest in Cambodia, with a staggering rainfall of 3,500-4,500mm per year due to its dense evergreen forest cover and its position along the Gulf. Protecting this continuous forest canopy and the flow of water from the forest to the coast is a conservation priority for Cambodia.

    In the Cardamoms, baby elephants are often the victims of poacher's snares intended for adult animals.

    This fragile forest conceals a menagerie of endangered wildlife species, including Malayan sun bears, elephants, gibbons, clouded leopards, Indian civets, banteng, dholes, gaur, and Sunda pangolins. In all, the park hosts more than 60 globally threatened animals and 17 globally threatened trees, many endemic to Cambodia. Here, one of the largest protected wild elephant populations in Southeast Asia rambles through one of Asia’s last unfragmented elephant corridors. In the rivers swim the exceedingly rare Irrawaddy dolphin, fewer than 100 of which remain in the world. Alongside those dolphins live some of the last populations on earth of Siamese crocodiles. 

    Sun bears are one of the threatened species that call the Cardamom Mountains home.

    Though tigers have not been seen here for some time, tiger reintroduction to Cambodia was identified as a priority in the Cambodia Tiger Action Plan and was recently endorsed by the Cambodian Prime Minister Samdach Akka Moha Senabdeiy Techo Hun Sen. The Ministry of Environment, responsible for managing Cardamom National Park, is also supportive of tiger reintroduction into the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape in the coming years.

    Clouded leopards and other large mammals are under attack in the Cardamoms.

    Saving Cardamom National Park

    Despite its new protected status, illegal land clearing and wildlife poaching continue to threaten this park.

    Cambodia faces some of the highest deforestation rates of any country in the world: over 15% of its forest has been cleared over the past 10 years.

    Thousands of wildlife snares, which conservationists call “walls of death” for their ability to create fatal barriers to wildlife, are confiscated every year in the Cardamom region. In the depths of the unexplored forest, such activities are difficult to stop without daily aerial and satellite monitoring. Further, because of its highly desirable real estate location, industrial and community-level land grabbing and wildlife poaching continue to threaten Cardamom’s biodiversity on a daily basis.

    A Cardamom National Park ranger installs cellular trailcams.

    To protect this park, Global Conservation, Wildlife Alliance, and the Ministry of Environment are deploying new technologies, including command and control, cellular trailcams, aerial surveillance and targeted ranger patrols for increasing the effectiveness of forest and wildlife protection. Wildlife Alliance builds rangers’ professional capacity and provides full support for their livelihoods. This enables them to focus completely on their duties and creates a culture of zero tolerance for corruption. 

    Global Park Defense provides critical technology and training for rangers and Wildlife Alliance teams.

    Effective and well-managed patrolling is vital to stop commercial poaching, often involving deadly snares laid on the forest floor to catch wild animals on their way to drink in the rivers. Effective enforcement also deters illegal logging operations and forest clearing for agriculture and other land uses. It's absolutely critical that surveillance, patrolling and law enforcement are conducted on a daily basis.

    Rangers remove hundreds of illegal snares, which capture wildlife indiscriminately.

    We are determined not to let this forest disappear, the way that 95% of Asia’s rainforests already have.

    Our rangers patrol 24/7 across 600,000 hectares of the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape, protecting the homes of elephants, clouded leopards, and gibbons so that this vast wilderness can remain wild. 

    Species Facing Extinction

    In Cardamom National Park, we are working with our partners to protect the clouded leopard and Sunda pangolin.

    Global Conservation is funding a multi-year Species Population Baseline study for clouded leopards and Sunda pangolins to ascertain progress in Park and Wildlife Protection from our investments in Global Park Defense in Cardamom National Park.

    Sunda Pangolin

    So few of these mysterious animals remain that scientists have been unable to estimate their population.  Sunda pangolins are one of the world's most trafficked mammals. Over a million pangolins worldwide are estimated to have been poached from the wild since 2000, and they are predicted to decline by an additional 80% within the next two decades if they are not protected. GC is working across five national parks and World Heritage Sites in Asia to help save this critically endangered species.

    Clouded Leopard

    There are two species of clouded leopard in the world, and GC sites have both of them! Just a few thousand individuals of both clouded leopard species remain across their ever-shrinking range in Asia. Illegal hunting for their skins and other body parts, habitat fragmentation due to human developments, and a lack of effective conservation efforts has led these animals to be listed as Vulnerable. Just 3,700-5,580 clouded leopards and 4,500 Sunda clouded leopards remain in the world.

    Partners in Conservation

    Wildlife Alliance

    Wildlife Alliance is the leader in direct protection of forests and wildlife in tropical Cambodia. They specialize in on-the-ground interventions with government rangers and local communities, directly addressing the causes of deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade. 

    Wildlife Alliance helps recruit rangers, train them, and equip them. Rangers are taught how to conduct professional law enforcement, strengthen legal procedures through the judiciary system, and report large land-grabbing cases to local and central government. Rangers also learn how to document crimes for government interventions: all cases are documented with precise GIS data, photographic evidence, and detailed history of legal offenses.

    Cardamom National Park rangers and Wildlife Alliance team members patrol the park, working together to protect the forest and wildlife.

    Thirteen rural communities surround the perimeter of the Cardamom National Park. New community-led organizations, ecotourism, community rangers, and environmental education are increasing interest in protection and have already substantially raised the standard of living for participating communities. Wildlife Alliance assists these communities in developing livelihoods that do not damage the rainforest: either sustainable agriculture, ecotourism, or development of family-run small businesses. At the same time, community members are rallied to re-plant lost forest cover by enriching the soil and planting indigenous tree species. The goal is to help the forest watershed recover and replenish water reserves in the village water wells. 

    SMART patrols respond to threats in the park using speedboats.

    Over 5,000 people in the area have benefited from development of sustainable jobs, 8 communities have had their land zoned for alternative livelihoods, and six ranger patrol stations are conducting over 2,500 patrols per year.

    Wildlife Alliance is also working on long-term sustainable financing for forest protection in the landscape through developing carbon credit revenues from the Southern Cardamom Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) project. 

    Cambodia Ministry of Environment

    Cambodia Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

    Deforestation threatens wildlife like this hornbill in the Cardamom Mountains.

    Cardamom National Park in the News

    Khmer Times - Cambodia to propose five natural areas as UNESCO World Heritage sites

    Asian Review - Going 'wild' in Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains

    The Guardian - Rangers Find 109,217 snares in a single park in Cambodia

    Phnom Penh Post - Shortage of rangers leads to abundance of poachers

    The Times - On the Trail of Poachers in the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia

    South China Morning Post - Six of the best wildlife-spotting locations in South and Southeast Asia

    Phomh Penh Post - On the brink: pangolins in peril

    Mongabay - Could REDD help save an embattled forest in Cambodia?

    Rainforest Trust - Strategic New National Park Created in Cambodia

    Cardamom National Park in Pictures: Saving Southeast Asia's Largest Surviving Rainforest

       

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  3. Patagonia Ranger Gear Delivered to Twelve GC Projects
    January 17, 2022

    Ranger wearing the donated Patagonia gear in Umphang-Thung Yai, Thailand.

    A generous donation by Patagonia and the Thin Green Line Foundation was well received by over 400 park rangers working in park and wildlife protection in GC Projects in twelve developing countries.

    This was a great collaboration between Global Conservation, the Thin Green Line Foundation and Patagonia that enabled the shipping of over 80 packages around the world.

    Park Rangers in the developing countries of Africa, Asia and the Americas face dangerous threats fighting illegal activities constantly threatening endangered parks and their communities. In most cases, they are accomplishing their missions with very little in the way of resources for protection. Over the past ten years over 1,000 rangers have been killed in the line of duty.

    "The Belize Maya Forest Trust and its Ranger team extend a warm thanks to The Green Line Foundation and Global Conservation for the Patagonia uniforms received. Great gear helps us to be more effective in combatting illegal poaching activities and protecting the amazing biodiversity of the Belize Maya Forest, from the mighty jaguar to our verdant trees." -Elma Kay, Executive Director, Belize Maya Forest Trust

    Gear arrives in Leuser National Park, Indonesia.

    "We would like to thank you so much for the generous donation of 20 sets of apparel (uniform & pants). The clothes we received are currently being handed over to the rangers and officers who are working tirelessly on the ground. We appreciate and are grateful for your kindness." - Sabah Environmental Trust

    Global Conservation works to protect endangered UNESCO World Heritage and national parks facing destruction and species extinction. We deploy a proven Global Park Defense methodology of technology, systems and training, combined with ‘boots on the ground’ support for patrolling operations, arrests and prosecution to deter forest and wildlife crime.

    Thank you to Patagonia and Thin Green Line for your incredibly generous support.

    These are the genuine ‘Thank Yous’ from every corner of the world. Patagonia’s high quality donated surplus gear was well received and greatly appreciated.

    "The very generous donation of surplus gear from Patagonia gives our rangers in GC Projects around the world a fighting chance and increases morale and comfort on long patrols in difficult environments - jungles, deep forests, mountains, river valleys and deserts. We are extremely thankful for their gift and the Thin Green Line Foundation who supports rangers around the world." -Jeff Morgan, Executive Director, Global Conservation

    The Sabah Environmental Trust in Malaysia receives the donated uniforms.

    Sabah Environmental Trust, Malaysia.

    Rangers wearing the donated gear in Umphang-Thung Yai, Thailand.

    The gear arrives in Mirador National Park, Guatemala.

    Ranger wearing donated gear in Umphang-Thung Yai, Thailand.

    Ranger using the donated gear in Umphang-Thung Yai, Thailand.

    Ranger holding the donated Patagonia gear in Leuser National Park, Indonesia.

    Ranger wearing the donated gear in Umphang Thung Yai, Thailand.

    Rangers in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda wear the donated uniforms.

    Rangers in the Greater Maya Forest, Belize wear the donated uniforms.

    About Patagonia

    Patagonia, Inc., based in Ventura, California, is a leading designer and retailer of core outdoor, alpine, fly fishing, snow, surf and sport-related apparel, equipment, footwear and accessories. The company is recognized internationally for its commitment to authentic product quality and environmental activism, contributing over $55 million in grants and in-kind donations to date, incorporating environmental responsibility into product development, marketing and its global advocacy.

    About Thin Green Line

    The Thin Green Line Foundation Protects Nature’s Protectors by providing vital support to Park Rangers and their communities who are the front-line of conservation. TGL work predominantly in developing nations and conflict zones, and with Indigenous Park Rangers within Australia and abroad. TGL is the only organization solely dedicated to providing Rangers worldwide with the assistance they deserve and need. As the official charity arm of the International Ranger Federation, TGL has unparalleled access and a global network to support Rangers worldwide.

    Thank You from GC Projects around the world:

    AMERICAS

    ASIA

    AFRICA and EUROPE

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  4. New Video: Saving the Last Forests and Wildlife of Asia
    September 7, 2021

    Film Script: Protecting The Last Intact Forests and Wildlife Habitats of Asia 

    Asia is losing the last of its major intact forests and wildlife habitats... very fast. Massive population growth has led to the destruction of 95% of Asia’s wildlife and 80% of their habitats. Global Conservation is focused on saving the last 5% of Asia’s intact tropical forests.

    Cambodia has lost over 80% of its forests in the past 20 years.  The last tiger was seen in 1990, and now less than 500 elephants survive, mostly in the Cardamoms.

    Global Conservation is supporting Global Park Defense deployment by Wildlife Alliance, which has recently secured over $40 million in long-term Carbon Offset REDD+ financing, making Cardamoms financially sustainable in its battle against deforestation and wildlife poaching.

    Global Park Defense delivers the technology, systems and training needed to stop wildlife poaching and illegal logging.

    The island of Borneo is one of the most breathtaking and biodiverse places on our planet. In the Heart of Borneo, Global Conservation funded the establishment of the DaMaI Rainforest Complex, creating a new park authority to prevent illegal logging and arrest poachers. 

    DaMaI PROTECT teams are deploying Global Park Defense systems including SMART Patrols, Cellular Trailcams, and a unified command for all forestry and protection teams saving the last intact forests and wildlife habitat for the top five megafauna in Malaysia.

    Leuser Ecosystem is the last place on earth where rhinos, elephants, tigers and orangutans coexist in the world. Today, less than 300 tigers and 100 rhino survive here.

    Global Conservation funds the protection work of FKL fighting against illegal palm oil expansion and wildlife poaching. Working with our Partners like Rainforest Trust which has purchased over $3 million in critical habitats, we fund SMART Patrols and road and trail surveillance to stop poachers from hunting in Leuser, who are using snares which cause the painful deaths of Asia’s most treasured animals.

    The single largest threat to Leuser is deforestation. In the past, illegal palm oil plantations burned down large swaths of jungle destroying critical wildlife habitats for elephant and orangutan like Tripa Swamp. Today, annual deforestation in Leuser has declined by 80% since we started our work.

    Working to protect Thap Lan World Heritage, Global Conservation funded a five year program to stop all Rosewood poaching in the national park, resulting in over 1,000 arrests.  Today, the Rosewood Wars are over and few illegal loggers enter the park due to its strong security and risk of arrest.

    Monitoring the park with over 120 Cellular Trailcams for 24/7 surveillance, Thai Rangers are able to directly target illegal loggers in the thick jungles, and now are seeing the results with new sightings of Indochinese Tigers in the national park for the first time.

    Saving the last major forests and wildlife habitats in Asia is critical to the survival of all species, including our own. The recent COVID Pandemic shows how humans can suffer with wildlife and its habitats are unprotected.

    Help us protect the Intact Forests and Wildlife Habitats of Asia. Support Global Conservation.

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  5. GC Mission to Los Katios National Park, Colombia
    July 19, 2021

    Introduction 

    On March 1, 2022, Global Conservation led a second mission for further assessment of Los Katíos National Park, Colombia. Director of South America, Margoth Quispe, met with Officials of Colombia National Parks, where a commitment was made to sign an MOU and deploy and test initial steps of Global Park Defense for effectiveness in Los Katíos. Global Conservation will assist in protection against illegal logging, land clearing, and wildlife poaching within the park, as well as economic development for surrounding local communities.

    Los Katíos lies on the southeastern edge of the Darién Gap, the thickly forested area on the border between Colombia and Panama that is infamous for its lawlessness. This region has long suffered from violence between the Colombian government, paramilitary armies, and guerilla forces (like FARC and ELN); neglect of the local communities by the faraway Colombian government; and intensive illegal activities, such as drug and human trafficking.

    Although the Colombian Civil War has smoldered on continuously since 1964, Colombia has been far safer and more welcoming for international visitors since the early 2000s. 

    Once off-limits to tourists, the formerly FARC-controlled northwestern corner of the country is now ripe for tourism and eager for international support for protecting its natural treasures. And these treasures are many: Colombia has 1,826 bird species, the highest diversity of any country on the planet.

    3,500 orchid species also occur here, and in the past ten years, the government has almost tripled the area of officially protected lands, from 13 million hectares in 2010 to 38 million hectares in 2018, with plans to continue expanding protected areas in the next year. 

    Los Katíos is the only protected area in this part of Colombia, a refuge for species that may otherwise go extinct. It sprawls across 72,000 hectares of forests and wetlands and shares a border with the 575,000-hectare Darién National Park in Panama. Because of its biogeographical position on the southern end of the Isthmus of Panama, the Darién’s dense forests have filtered the exchange of plants and animals between South and Central America.

    Populations were stranded and isolated on the Darién’s mountaintops as sea levels rose and fell, resulting in an astonishing number of endemic species, found nowhere else in the world. One in every five plants here is unique to the Darién. Thousands of species of animals and plants likely remain undiscovered, shrouded by the thick jungle.

    Bisecting Los Katíos is the Atrato River, the wellspring for a number of important and biodiverse wetlands. The park’s diverse habitats – from hilly forests to low-lying floodplains – offer an incredible wealth of plant and animal species. Los Katíos is a birder’s paradise, containing 450 bird species – or 25% of all bird species of Colombia – in just 1% of its area, including endemics like the grey-headed chachalaca (Ortalis cinereiceps).

    The park also contains some of the highest diversities of amphibians, reptiles, and freshwater fish in the world. Other notable wildlife includes capybaras, ocelots, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, harpy eagles, caimans, American crocodiles, and jaguars. In fact, the Chocó-Darién region, where Los Katíos lies, has been identified as one of seven places in the world with the greatest potential to sustain jaguar populations in the long term.

    Scouting Mission to Los Katíos

    In March 2021, we went on a mission to Los Katíos to determine the potential for a Global Park Defense Program to protect against illegal land clearing, logging, and hunting. The Park is accessed by river via the small town of Turbo, where the park office is located. It takes about 3 hours from Turbo via the Atrato River to reach the Main Ranger Field Base in Suatata. Here’s what we discovered:

    Primary threats to Los Katíos

    1.     Poaching.

    Mammals are poached inside Los Katíos, primarily for food. Bird poaching is an issue both for sale and consumption. Two endemic turtle species, the Colombian slider turtle and the critically endangered Magdalena river turtle, are hunted for consumption by setting fires to drive the animals into certain areas.

    In addition to threatening the turtles themselves, this practice often results in out-of-control forest fires that may burn many hectares. However, this is a difficult practice to halt, as turtle hunting is deeply rooted in the cultures of this region.

    Tumaradó, fishing village at the edge of Los Katíos.

    2.     Illegal fishing.

    Fish are usually sold in Turbo. In some cases, families are allowed up to 5 nets, which when set in succession can span 750 meters. Because overfishing has severely depleted fish stocks in the area, this method is sometimes necessary just to meet their daily legal quota, and is no longer a sustainable, year-round source of income for some communities.

    3.     Illegal Logging.

    Though Colombia has maintained about 50% of its natural forest cover, making up 6% of the world’s forests, deforestation is a major problem. 20-40% of total timber production in Colombia is illegal. One cubic meter of legally extracted wood can cost $375.00. The same volume of illegally extracted wood costs around $200.00.

    Much of the large-scale timber is extracted using false permits and sent to markets in China. Smaller operations use the many waterways to float logs out. Two recent military checkpoints in the communities have detoured some of the large-scale commercial operations. Reviving two damaged remote outposts on the Cacarica River could increase arrests for illegal logging. Already, most mahogany trees have been removed from the Darién region.

    4.     Burning.

    Fires have been an increasing threat recently in Los Katíos. Unnatural fires can mostly be attributed to two causes: burning to clear the land for cultivation, and fires set to drive out turtles and other wildlife to the riverbank for poaching.

    5.     Poverty.

    This is a major driver of environmental degradation, especially amongst the Afro-Colombian fishing communities within the park and the surrounding area. These communities lack basic resources. The only source of income is fishing, and the competition is fierce. A dwindling fish population, due to overfishing as well as an old dam put in place many years ago for a logging operation, has had an extremely adverse effect on local fishing communities.

    They lack the means and resources to produce clean drinking water, so all drinking water is store-bought bottled water brought in via boat from Turbo. They have no real means for recycling or waste disposal, so much of the plastic and waste ends up either burned or in the river. There is limited cell service and no internet access.

    The constant burden of poverty makes communities vulnerable to resorting to illegal activity for survival. The absence of basic resources and assistance causes a lack of trust, among some communities, in government and NGOs due to a lack of programs or early program abandonment.

    6.     Development and land-use change.

    The Pan-American Highway has long loomed over the Darién region as a potential ecological disaster. The Darién “Gap” is so named because it is a gap in this highway, and the completion of this section has been shelved several times due to environmental concerns.

    However, some interests continue to push for its construction. When the highway was extended south in Panama in recent decades, deforestation spread like wildfire along both sides of the road. If this project were to move forward, it would inevitably result in high levels of deforestation, the fragmentation of this vast block of forest, and the invasion of potentially ecologically harmful species, like the coyote, which has thus far been blocked from spreading into South America by the dense Darién forests.

    Economic Opportunities

    Potential for Carbon for Forests Financing

    As part of this pilot, Global Conservation aims to secure adjacent high-biodiversity lands to nearly double the national park's size, while developing Carbon for Forests financing for long-term, sustained park and wildlife protection. This will be similar to the $6 million secured from Shell Oil for Cardamom  World Heritage Site to protect 6,450,000 hectares of critical wildlife and elephant habitat in Cambodia.

    Tourist lodging in Tumaradó.

    Ecotourism

    Tourism is viable though challenging, and currently nonexistent. However, there is great potential. The new Director General of Colombia National Parks is focused on increasing tourism. 

    Several local communities understand the importance of conserving their natural resources and are eager to find alternative means of supporting their economies. The communities of Tumaradò and Puente Amèrica, located along the edge of the protected area, have an established relationship with the parks department and welcome support in building tourism. 

    One of the hurdles will be how to ensure financial benefits to the communities for ecotourism.

    Potential ecotourism opportunities:

    1. Lagoons. There are 3 beautiful lagoons that could be a great location for a floating lodge and bungalow design, ideal for bird watching. 
    2. Day trips for Bird Watching. Another option is to run day trips out of Turbo. You would need to scout locations for potential Viewing Structures or Floating Platforms and purchase a couple of boats to shuttle tourists. 
    3. Ecolodge at the Main Base site. There is enough land here to build a small ecolodge. There are also a few existing outbuildings that could be remodeled or possibly added on to make an ecolodge. There is a trail just steps away that leads to amazing waterfalls and swimming holes. The trail needs maintenance but is wide enough to support ATV’s, UTV’s, and possibly a small transport vehicle.
    4. Existing Community Lodges. There was a program with the EU that provided an ecolodge structure, remote internet, and a small solar power system, but the project has since been terminated and neither the solar nor internet is currently functioning in either community. This option would involve remodeling and improving existing lodging facilities. 

    However, the greatest obstacle to protecting Los Katíos and developing tourism is the existence of coca production and cartel operations deep within park boundaries, bolstered by government corruption. While cartel activity is currently contained in undeveloped and unpatrolled areas, rangers keep their distance for fear of retaliation; cartel members are militarized while rangers are not.

    GC will assist in strengthening communications between park rangers and the military for effective response against cartel threats. The military has bases directly across and near multiple ranger posts. The potential for rangers to pressure cartel operations out of Los Katíos with the aid of the military will be further assessed after the initial trial of GPD in the next two years.

    First Steps in Launching Global Park Defense

    1. Meeting with Park Directors

    GC Director of South America, Margaret Quispe, discussing park needs with Director-General Orlando Molano.

    Global Conservation’s Director of South America, Margoth Quispe, discussed the mutual conservation goals with Officials from National Parks, Colombia. Global Conservation’s role and capacity to aid the park were outlined, and a commitment to sign a formal Memorandum of Understand to test initial steps of GPD within Los Katios was made, with the official signing to be held in April of this year.

    GC team and parks officials.

    2. Equipment Donation

    To take patrolling to the next step, Global Conservation delivered the following equipment to the Los Katíos team in the first round of donations on March 1st:

    • 2 Garmin GPS radio units
    • 6 Blackview cell phones and 2 computers for SMART patrolling
    • Noncellular camera traps to gather data on scarcely patrolled areas
    • Binoculars
    • A new generator for the main base (Sautata)
    • Motorized Blade Trimmer for maintaining trails

    Donated equipment.

    3. Training

    Global Conservation was happy to find that the National Parks Department is a step ahead and already trained in and utilizing SMART software in their patrols.  We will continue to aid in refining the platform to best suit Los Katíos individual needs as more data is collected on high threat areas using the newly donated equipment.

    Rangers will be further trained to best utilize the software and will expand their recording area from only within park boundaries to further include observations made outside of the park while commuting between Turbo and Los Katíos.  

    Park rangers using SMART patrolling in the field.

    4. Understanding Community Needs

    Global Conservation and Head of Protected Areas, Nancy Murillo, met with local communities Tumaradò (Unguia, Choco) and Puente Amèrica (Riosucio Choco) and their leaders to better understand their needs and to forge relationships for future work in developing eco-tourism. 

    Elias Valoyes, community leader and legal representative of Tumaradó.

    Next Steps:

    • Use Garmin InReach to mark cell coverage boundaries
    • Set Camera traps around Peye, Palon, and Limón to gather information about traffic in the area to modify patrol routes
    • Establish a boat radio or set line of comms with military and main HQ via Garmin InReach

    Perancho ranger base.

    Bases:

    • Rehabilitate damaged base at Perancho, rebuild its water tower, and provide comms
    • Clear entrance at Sautata and back trail for patrolling and tourism to the waterfalls (now possible with newly donated bladed trimmer)
    • Argo Utility Vehicle would solve entrance issues immediately and allow for clearing trails
    • Provide temporary Tent Base and water container at teardown location

    Local children playing in the river.

    Community:

    • Implement a results-based reward system for information leading to arrests
    • Provide a large boat and dumping fees for a clean-up day in two communities
    • Reconnect satellite internet
    • Provide one Garmin InReach or radio for each community
    • A fishing agreement amongst the communities and the government exists and a modernized version will be signed in the coming months. Members from three communities currently assist in the regulation of fishing practices and the new agreement should bring in more regulators.

    Long term goals:

    • Fully deploy Global Park Defense systems, equipment and training
    • Ecotourism Center with Lodging (2 star) for Birders, visitors for economic development and sustainable funding for park
    • Village Improvements - Housing, School, Clinic, Sanitation
    • Strengthen relationship between Rangers and Military

    With Global Park Defense, the park authority and ranger teams will have increased capacity and improved effectiveness to greatly improve park and wildlife protection, law enforcement, and biodiversity monitoring. Our goal is to achieve ‘No, Cut, No Kill’ protection for the national park within 5-6 years.

    Los Katíos park entrance.

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  6. Cardamoms National Park Achieves Sustainable Financing from REDD+ Carbon Offsets
    May 28, 2021

    A Cardamom NP ranger sets a cellular trail camera, an important piece of surveillance equipment that can alert rangers when criminals enter the park. Photo courtesy Wildlife Alliance.

    Wildlife Alliance, Global Conservation’s partner in protecting Cardamom National Park in Cambodia, has secured over $10 million in long-term funding for park and wildlife protection from the sales of REDD+ VCS (Verified Carbon Standard) Carbon Credits. This marks one of the first major successes in a previously ineffective carbon offset system developed by the United Nations over 20 years ago.

    The Southern Cardamom REDD+ Project (SCRP) is an initiative designed to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation, maintain biodiversity, and create alternative livelihoods under the United Nations scheme of "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation" (REDD+). 

    After the investment of millions of dollars and nearly 4 years in developing it as a REDD Project, Cardamom National Park has now secured solid funding for long-term protection through REDD++. These carbon offsets were developed by Wildlife Works, one of the world’s premier carbon project developers.

    Cardamom NP rangers on patrol, protecting these priceless forests. Photo courtesy Wildlife Alliance.

    The SCRP's climate benefits include the avoided emission of approximately 12 million tons CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) during this first monitoring period and over 115 billion tons CO2e over the lifetime of the project. The Project will generate substantial community and biodiversity co-benefits.

    New and sustainable livelihood opportunities, such as direct employment, alternative income generating activities (IGAs) and initiatives to stimulate investment in businesses will be designed to reduce pressure on the environment while significantly increasing community well-being. Additional programs will address food security, improve health and education facilities, as well as raise environmental awareness. 

    Community outreach and involvement is a critical component of Wildlife Alliance's programs in the Cardamom Mountains. Photo courtesy Wildlife Alliance.

    Biodiversity co-benefits will be achieved through greater protection of the ecosystem predominantly by means of increased security and improved monitoring. The Project will also be protecting critical habitat for significant populations of many IUCN listed species, including Asian elephant, Asiatic black bear, sun bear, large spotted civet, clouded leopard, and dhole, as well as the critically endangered reptiles Siamese crocodile and Southern river terrapin.

    Global Conservation has been funding field protection for Cardamom National Park in Cambodia since 2018, investing nearly $500,000 into the last major intact forests left in Southeast Asia. Protecting these forests is critical for achieving our planet’s climate goals.

    GC has helped to train Cardamom NP rangers in patrolling, surveillance, and enforcement. Photo courtesy Wildlife Alliance.

    Despite its global importance, uncontrolled small-scale land conversion of forest to agricultural land by migrants and conversion to agro-industrial plantations by the private sector make the Southern Cardamom region one of most threatened forest landscapes in South East Asia. Rural communities depend on small-scale agricultural production to support their livelihood. 

    Deforestation is a major problem in the Greater Cardamom Mountains Rainforest Ecoregion. Photo courtesy Wildlife Alliance.

    The 445,339-hectare SCRP encompasses parts of Southern Cardamom National Park and Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary, and will protect a critical part of the Cardamom Mountains Rainforest Ecoregion – one of the 200 most important locations for biodiversity conservation on the planet. Cardamoms National Park supports at least 52 species of IUCN Threatened birds, mammals, and reptiles including Siamese crocodile and one of Cambodia’s two viable populations of Asian elephant. The landscape has also been identified by the Royal Government of Cambodia as an opportunity for tiger reintroduction.

    Photo courtesy Wildlife Alliance.

    Wildlife Alliance has been assisting the government in the management of the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape since 2002. Global Conservation has funded Global Park Defense deployment since 2018, achieving significant protection and enforcement successes. Core Global Conservation funded activities include surveillance, park communications, ranger patrols protecting the forest and technical assistance to the government to help it implement forest protection, as well as community involvement. For more on GC projects to protect Cardamoms National Park see GC News: Cardamom National Park

    To purchase Cardamoms VCS Certified Carbon Offsets, contact Everland.

    A critical prerequisite to Global Park Defense is a park-wide communications network. Consequently, GC supported the construction of additional communications towers in Cardamom National Park. Photo courtesy Wildlife Alliance.

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  7. Cardamom National Park Progress Report 2020
    May 11, 2021

    Central Cardamom Mountains National Park (CCNMP) consists of a vast expanse of dense monsoon forest, melaleuca wetlands, mangroves, and a network of estuaries and rivers that course across the mountain slopes and into the Gulf of Thailand. Protecting this continuous forest canopy and the flow of water from the forest to the coast is a conservation priority for Cambodia.

    This fragile forest conceals a menagerie of endangered wildlife species, including Malayan sun bears, elephants, gibbons, clouded leopards, Indian civets, banteng, dholes, gaur, and Sunda pangolins. In all, the park hosts more than 60 globally threatened animals and 17 globally threatened trees, many endemic to Cambodia. 

    But despite its new protected status, illegal land clearing and wildlife poaching continue to threaten this park. Cambodia faces some of the highest deforestation rates of any country in the world: over 15% of its forest has been cleared over the past 10 years. 

    Thousands of wildlife snares, which conservationists call “walls of death” for their ability to create fatal barriers to wildlife, are confiscated every year in the Cardamom region. Thankfully, Wildlife Alliance has made great progress removing those snares.

    To protect this incredible ecosystem, Global Conservation has been working with Wildlife Alliance and Conservation International in Central Cardamom Mountains National Park. We’ve been deploying new technologies, including command and control, cellular trailcams, aerial surveillance and targeted ranger patrols for increasing the effectiveness of forest and wildlife protection. Already, our partners have made incredible progress in 2019-2020. Here are their most recent updates:

    Progress: Wildlife Alliance

    As of 2020, Wildlife Alliance’s Cardamom Forest Protection Program (CFPP) covers 1,309,812 hectares of directly-protected rainforest in 7 Protected Areas, one of which is Central Cardamom National Park.

    Wildlife Alliance is the Development Partner of the Ministry of Environment (MOE) since 2001 for the protection of the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape and has supported the Ministry in the creation of a ten-station ranger force, National Park infrastructure, protection strategy, and ongoing capacity building. 

    The ranger stations are working hard to counter wildlife poaching, illegal logging, forestland encroachment and commercial charcoal production. Ten ranger stations, composed of MOE Judicial Police, Royal Gendarmerie Khmer (RGK) Military Police and Wildlife Alliance civilian rangers, are on patrol every day of the year. 

    Their tireless work has been effective in strengthening law enforcement, returning forestland from land grabbers to the State, and cracking down on illegal logging and poaching networks. Wildlife Alliance has supported the work of the rangers by engaging local communities in sustainable natural resource management, facilitating participatory land use planning, zoning and demarcation and working closely with the Government at all levels to ensure good governance. 

    The Wildlife Alliance park protection model is holistic and addresses all the drivers of deforestation simultaneously by: 

    1. Implementing law enforcement to stop poaching, illegal logging and forestland grabbing; 
    2. Rescuing wildlife and providing professional care to preserve and reinforce the Cardamom wild populations; 
    3. Conducting zoning and demarcation to provide local communities with clear community land and strictly protected forest boundaries; 
    4. Building political will to keep the forest standing; 
    5. Working with local communities to develop sustainable livelihoods that earn proper income without having to cut the forest or kill wildlife for survival. 

    WA’s policy is to preserve continuous forest cover, as opposed to delineating priority biodiversity areas and allowing the rest to be developed by urban expansion, farms or mining. By protecting vast expanses of continuous forest cover, WA’s work is contributing to global planetary climate benefits by preserving the water regulation function and carbon sequestration function of the rainforest.

    In 2020, WA’s rangers patrolled 193,651-km, stopped 140 land encroachment attempts, seized 5,714 logs and 1,854 m3 of timber, destroyed 25,886 illegal hunting snares, rescued 562 live animals from illegal wildlife traders, and confiscated 1,720 chainsaws and 33 heavy machineries clearing the forest. As a result of this action, WA’s ranger Judicial Police Officers filed 115 court cases against forest and wildlife criminals. 

    WA’s approach has demonstrable effective conservation results: the Cardamoms are the best protected body of rainforest in Cambodia and we have significantly reduced deforestation (<0.3% annual deforestation compared to the National average of 3.8% annually between 2013 and 2018), achieved Zero Poaching of Asian Elephants since 2006, and supported the recovery of populations of ungulates and carnivores.

    In Numbers: Wildlife Alliance Success in 2020

    • Kilometers patrolled: 193,651
    • Land encroachment attempts stopped: 140 
    • Court cases submitted: 115 
    • Offenders taken to court: 53 
    • Fines payment cases: 253 
    • Excavator/bulldozer/tractors seized: 33 
    • Vehicles seized: 150 
    • Number of snares removed: 25,886 
    • Meters of snares removed: 31,316 
    • Timber seized (cubic meters): 1,854 
    • Chainsaws confiscated: 1,720 
    • Guns seized: 134 
    • Illegal logging camps/huts removed: 960 
    • Commercial charcoal kilns removed: 146 
    • Live wildlife rescued: 562 
    • Dead wildlife seized: 211 

    Enforcement Highlights

    A WA patrol unit dismantled 1 saw mill and confiscated 4 motorbikes, 246 pieces (45m3) of log planks and 2 chainsaws. The WA teams have also halted logging operations on several other occasions, dismantling or confiscating logging trucks, sawmills, and illegal timber.

      The WA team stopped 3 machines (1 excavator, 1 drilling machine and 1 truck) and arrested 3 offenders for the illegal dynamiting of the mountain and compression digging in the mountain rock, in an area of 5.12ha inside the Conservation Biodiversity Corridor. The team brought the 3 offenders to Kampong Speu Provincial Department of Environment for legal prosecution. 

    A WA patrol unit conducted a night patrol ambush. They seized three critically endangered Sunda pangolins. The offender ran away. As the pangolins were healthy, the team released the pangolins back into the wild.

    A team patrolling a village confiscated 1 dead muntjac, 1 Mini-tractor, 57 snares, 4 camps, 1 homemade gun and 6 chainsaws.

    A WA patrol unit confiscated 7 chainsaws, burned 11 kg wild pig meat and released 51 birds (right) back to the forest.

    A patrol unit confiscated and burned 38 kg of wild pig meat, 13 kg of Muntjac meat, 8 kg of Monitor lizard meat and arrested the offenders, issuing transactional fines.

    A WA patrol unit conducted an ambush patrol to crack down on poachers. The unit confiscated 72 kg of Gaur meat, already for delivery to a wildlife trader. Gaur, Bos gaurus, are on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable. The offenders ran away. The team confiscated the meat and burnt it. However, the team kept investigating to find the offender. On August 10, 2020, the team were able to identify the identity the trader and brought her to PDoE. The trader was punished through payment of a transactional fine of $2,000.

    WA patrols dismantled 51 illegal settlements. These settlements were a result of a land-grab of 1,179 hectares of forest by someone who then illegally sold it. 

    A patrol unit found a dead Muntjac trapped in a snare.

    They also rescued and released a live, critically endangered elongated tortoise and 5 snared live wild pigs. They removed 350 rope snares.

    A patrol unit rescued and released an 80kg live Burmese Python.

    Results: Global Park Defense System Unit

    Global Conservation is specifically supporting a Global Park Defense System (GPDS) Unit embedded in one of CCMNP's patrol stations. In 2020, this team worked to install trail cameras, monitor key areas, and patrol to crack down on poachers, loggers, and land grabbers. 

    Results in Numbers: GPDS Unit

    • 266 patrols
    • 19 night ambushes
    • 8,818km covered on patrol
    • 411 snares removed
    • 120m nets removed
    • 33 live wildlife rescued
    • 36 homemade guns and 1 SKS carbine rifle seized
    • 185 illegal logging camps dismantled
    • 153 cubic meters of timber seized
    • 100 logs seized
    • 234 chainsaws seized
    • 16 land encroachment cases stopped
    • 7 pieces of heavy machinery seized
    • 49 oxcarts and 17 mechanical buffalos seized
    • 19 land grabbers and 17 loggers arrested with 11 court cases
    • 130.41 ha deforestation stopped

    Conservation International Partnership in the Central Cardamom Mountains National Park

    In September 2019, we also partnered with Conservation International (CI) to launch a project in CCMNP.

    Since then, CI has made great progress restructuring the management of the park. To help with this, they performed inventory assessments of ranger stations and worked with the Ministry of Environment to equip 30 rangers with essential patrolling equipment (hammocks, GPS units, boots, first aid equipment, helmets, etc.). CI also provided them with funds for fuel and food, as well as salary supplementations.

    Rangers maintained their patrols during in difficult conditions during the wet season. 

    CI also conducted trainings on best practices in law enforcement, on strengthening law enforcement and court cases, on patrol strategy, and on GPS and SMART patrol data collection. They also educated local communities on protected area law, so that they understand what they may and may not collect from the forest.

    From October 2019 to June 2020, Cardamom rangers working with CI:

    • Conducted 480 patrols across 24,605km
    • Arrested 4 suspects, fined 15 people, and wrote warnings to 30 who had committed offenses in the protected area
    • Confiscated 40.5 cubic meters of illegal timber, one axe, and 87 chainsaws
    • Confiscated 12 air guns, one rifle, and one home-made gun
    • Confiscated 12 sticks of dynamite and 4 batteries used for electro-fishing
    • Removed 595 leg snare traps, 3 drift nets, and one small mammal trap
    • Confiscated 3 cars, 3 carts, 18 tractors, 12 motorbikes, and 11 trucks for transporting illegal timber
    • Recorded 33 hectares of illegal land encroachment
    • Destroyed 29 illegal camps
    • Recorded numerous signs and sightings of 12 large wildlife species

    Illegal snares were removed by rangers from Thma Baing & Areng stations in Koh Kong province.

    From July 2020-December 2020, CI staff continued to provide support for protected area management and law enforcement in CCMNP. With the Ministry of Environment and Provincial Department of Environment as the main implementing partners, they continued to provide technical support and oversight with the CCMNP Trust Fund providing the financial means for fuel and food costs, as well as salary supplementations for 30 rangers to patrol CCMNP from six ranger stations.

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  8. Two Years of Progress: 2019-2020 Impact Report
    February 15, 2021

    Despite the challenges we faced from the global pandemic, we have continued our critical work to protect endangered national parks and wildlife in the face of increases in deforestation and poaching due to loss of tourism revenues.

    Across Global Conservation’s worldwide projects, our supporters, partners, team leaders and staff are stepping up to support each other. We’re ensuring that our critical work to deploy Global Park Defense continues to stop illegal activities in our UNESCO World Heritage Sites and national parks in developing countries.

    We’ve summarized just a handful of our successes from the past two years in our 2019-2020 Impact Report. At Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe, we’re celebrating an entire year with no elephants killed after a decades-long struggle against rampant poaching. In Mirador National Park, Guatemala, joint patrols between Mexico and Guatemala have resulted in a number of arrests for crimes that have been eating away at the Mirador-Calakmul Ecosystem. Further south, in the newly established Sierra del Divisor National Park, Peru, we’ve collaborated with local communities to establish a robust GPD program, and broken ground on the park’s first ecolodge.

    Meanwhile, the Leuser Ecosystem of Sumatra has experienced a 40% reduction in deforestation and a 67% reduction in poaching, owing to the hard work of several of our partners. In Cardamom National Park, Cambodia, we’ve achieved 50% GPD coverage of the park and brought snaring below baseline levels through focused patrolling and raids. In Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, we supported the first command center for this jewel of Africa.

    Though we wrapped up our GPD program in Thap Lan National Park, Thailand in 2018, we are still reaping the rewards: sightings of Indochinese tiger cubs in the area have confirmed that this has become a critically important breeding area for these endangered big cats.

    We’re also thrilled to have added two new projects to our roster: Carpathian National Park, Ukraine, and La Amistad International Park in Costa Rica and Panama.

    Please take a moment to download the PDF of our Impact Report to read more about these exciting new developments!

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  9. Newsletter: Celebrating Conservation Success in 2020
    December 7, 2020

    Some good news for 2020...

    2020 has been a tough year. But despite the many challenges that this year has brought to the world and its wildlife, Global Conservation is proud to have supported critical work by our partners in protected areas around the globe. 

    Read on for just a few of this year’s many success stories!

    A Conservation Victory: One Year With No Elephant Poaching in Mana Pools

    In a major conservation victory, our partner, the Bushlife Conservancy, has recently announced that Mana Pools National Park has been free of any elephant poaching incidents for twelve months. Over the past ten years, 12,000 elephants have been poached in the park and the surrounding Zambezi Valley. Sadly, by 2014, elephant numbers in this area had decreased 40% from 18,000 to 11,500. 

    With Global Conservation’s support, Bushlife Conservancy stepped in to fund more rangers, better communications, and regular patrolling. Thanks to these improvements, elephant poaching declined steadily from more than 70 cases in 2016 to just 7 in 2019, and now to zero over the past yearRead more about how Bushlife accomplished this, and see BBC’s coverage of the story!

    Major Drop in Leuser Ecosystem Deforestation

    For the past several years, Global Conservation has been supporting a Global Park Defense program in the Bengkung-Trumon Megafauna Sanctuary (BTMS). BTMS is a 400,000-hectare expanse of critical habitat at the core of the Leuser Ecosystem, home to endangered Sumatran tigers, rhinos, elephants, orangutans, and sun bears. Along with our partners, Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL) and Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh (HAkA), we’ve been working to establish a robust SMART Patrol system to fight illegal logging, poaching, and land clearing for palm oil plantations.

    With GC’s support, FKL has now restored a major river basin in the BTMS. HAkA is training government agencies in deforestation mapping and helping the provincial government set up a forest monitoring system. Poaching cases have also decreased dramatically since 2017 as patrols have intensified, with fewer than half as many poaching incidents in 2019 vs. 2018. 

    Our partners at the Rainforest Action Network have also made great strides in fighting conflict palm oil in the Leuser Ecosystem, and deforestation has dropped by 40% in the Leuser Ecosystem since 2015.

    Rangers Battle Snaring in Cardamom NP, Cambodia

    Global Conservation has been partnering with Wildlife Alliance to implement Global Park Defense in Southern Cardamom National Park. This past year, we achieved 50% GPD coverage of the park, including aerial surveillance, cellular cameras, targeted patrolling, and new ranger bases in high-threat areas.

    Snares, traps made of wire or rope, are a particular threat to wildlife in Cambodia. The “walls of death” created by rampant snaring have stripped forests of their wildlife. In 2020, a six-ranger GPD team deployed to the Veal Thapou poaching hotspot, where poachers have been snaring for bushmeat to sell to restaurants. 

    This law enforcement pressure has been effective: though large hauls of bushmeat were initially seized from restaurants, none has been found in those restaurants recently. The number of snares found in the forest is also decreasing.

    We are also partnering with Conservation International to launch a project in the Central Cardamom Mountains NP, which began last year and has already made great progress improving management and equipping rangers.

    New Operations Center in Murchison Falls NP, Uganda

    During the late 1970s to the year 2000, Murchison Falls National Park suffered extreme poaching. Since 2018, Global Conservation has been supporting the work of the Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF) and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to restore wildlife and tourism numbers.

    As of 2019, Murchison Falls still had no communications network and no means of coordinating park operations. This year, we supported the design and construction of the Murchison Falls Law Enforcement and Operations Centre (LEOC), including a Joint Operations Command Centre with the Ugandan police, an armory, police station and cell block, and radio and internet towers. The LEOC is the first of its kind in Africa, integrating all relevant departments and providing for interagency requirements.

    Want to contribute to conservation success for 2021 and long into the future? Get involved!

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  10. Cardamom National Park, Cambodia Progress Report, 2019-2020
    October 7, 2020

    Cardamom National Park consists of over 800,000 hectares of dense monsoon forest, melaleuca wetlands, mangroves, and a vast network of estuaries and rivers. In fact, the Cardamom rainforest has the greatest watershed value of any forest in Cambodia, with a staggering rainfall of 3,500-4,500mm per year due to its dense evergreen forest cover and its position along the Gulf. 

    This fragile forest is home to a number of endangered wildlife species, including Malayan sun bears, elephants, gibbons, clouded leopards, Indian civets, banteng, dholes, gaur, and Sunda pangolins. In all, the park hosts more than 60 globally threatened animals and 17 globally threatened trees, many endemic to Cambodia. 

    The sheer abundance of water in the Cardamoms makes it one of its most important natural resources, with the forest receiving a staggering 3.5 to 4.5m of rainfall annually that supply 22 major waterways. In turn, the Cardamom Mountains supplies water to 16 hydro-power dams across the country that generate an estimated 20% of Cambodia’s electricity. Wildlife Alliance is protecting 1.4 million hectares of the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape, one of Southeast Asia's last great rainforests. Photo and caption courtesy WA.

    However, despite being legally protected since 2016, illegal land clearing and wildlife poaching continue to threaten this park. Cambodia faces some of the highest deforestation rates of any country in the world: over 15% of its forest has been cleared over the past 10 years.

    An increasing demand for wildlife from China, such as pangolins, turtles, and hornbills, is causing a rapid decline in Cambodian wildlife. The tiger has already been driven to extinction in Cambodia, though the Cardamom Mountains are slated to be the first tiger re-introduction site.

    Thmor Rung station rangers seized a van carrying illegal firewood, as well as a chainsaw. Wildlife Alliance - Ministry of Environment rangers are constantly fighting the threat of illegal logging to protect the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape. Photo and caption courtesy WA.

    To protect this park, Global Conservation is supporting the non-profit Wildlife Alliance (WA) to deploy new technologies for increasing the effectiveness of forest and wildlife protection in the southern Cardamoms. Wildlife Alliance builds rangers’ professional capacity and provides full support for their livelihoods. 

    Effective and well-managed patrolling is vital to stop commercial poaching, often involving deadly snares laid on the forest floor to catch wild animals on their way to drink in the rivers. Effective enforcement also deters illegal logging operations and forest clearing for agriculture and other land uses. It's absolutely critical that surveillance, patrolling and law enforcement are conducted on a daily basis.

    In March 2020, a raid by Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) exposed the dark underbelly of Cambodia’s illegal wildlife trade. After receiving a tipoff from the Wildlife Justice Commission, WRRT raided a carving factory suspected of holding illegal wildlife products in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. The suspect was found with 6.58kg of ivory, 5.5kg of tiger bones, 1 tiger tooth, 1.03kg of pangolin scales, and 103 dead seahorses. A Chinese national was arrested and has been put on pre-trial detention. Photo and caption courtesy WA.

    In 2019 and the first part of 2020, Wildlife Alliance has made substantial progress toward accomplishing their objectives.

    Key Objectives and Progress

    Objective 1: Implement Global Park Defense in Southern Cardamom National Park by focusing 100% on wildlife poaching in the Veal Thapou hotspot.

    A cellular trailcam mounted on a tree to detect illegal activity.

    Progress 

    • Wildlife Alliance and GC deployed GPD across 50% of Cardamom National Park, including aerial surveillance, cellular cameras, targeted patrolling, and new ranger bases in high-threat areas.
    • Wildlife Alliance installed 20 cellular trailcams at strategic trail locations.
    • WA purchased 3 drones and a laptop to process drone footage into maps. Two drones were allocated to the Veal Thapou Hotspot, and the third drone to the Sre Ambel ranger station for monitoring forest fires. These fires are a huge problem almost weekly, destroying the protected melaleuca forest due to land grabbing for private ownership.

    WA staff fly a drone in order to map critical conservation areas.

    Objective 2: Secure the area with the goal of eradicating poaching.

    Progress

    Without immediate response to camera alerts, along with systematic patrolling by well-motivated anti-poaching rangers, poachers will continue coming into the park. As the wildlife population is progressively rebounding, the area will be more targeted by the poachers. Ranger’s constant presence is continuously needed. The six-ranger unit will be operating out of Stung Proat Ranger Station, constantly moving between the Stung Proat river and the villages of Veal Thapou, Trapeang Rung and Andong Teuk, covering a patrol quadrant of 30,000 hectares. 

    A WA-Ministry of Environment ranger with poachers that were arrested with illegal contraband.

    From January-June 2019, rangers:

    • Conducted 215 patrols and 46 night ambushes
    • Covered 8,905 km
    • Prosecuted 2 cases in court
    • Removed 2,859 snares
    • Directly saved the lives of 11 wild animals
    • Stopped 11 land encroachments
    • Seized 33 chainsaws and 6 guns

    Wildlife Alliance – Ministry of Environment rangers are on the ground everyday protecting of Southeast Asia’s last great rainforests. Recently, Chambok station rangers put a halt to a significant amount of illegal logging activity in their patrol quadrant when they confiscated 12 chainsaws, as well as three minivans and six mini tractors carrying illegal timber. Photo and caption courtesy WA.

    From January-March 2020, rangers:

    • Conducted 88 patrols and 9 night ambushes
    • Covered 3,425 km
    • Prosecuted one court case
    • Removed 381 snares
    • Removed 110m of nets
    • Directly saved the lives of 5 wild animals
    • Seized 28 chainsaws and 3 guns

    In total, in 2019 and 2020, rangers:

    • Made 542 arrests
    • Seized 12,000 cubic meters of timber
    • Dismantled 3,400 hectares of illegal settlements
    • Destroyed 1075 illegal hunting/logging camps

    Objective 3: Completely eliminate the sale of illegal wildlife meat in the restaurants in Anduong Teuk and Trapeang Rung, again through ranger patrols. WA aims to reduce illegal wildlife meat selling at these restaurants by 60%, with a sharp downward trend to 100%.

    Pangolins are a common victim of the illegal sale of wildlife for meat and medicine. Photo courtesy WA.

    Progress

    • Ranger patrol unit has been performing routine operations to search for illegal wildlife meat in the areas in which the restaurants are located. In 2018, 5 restaurants were known to be selling illegal wildlife meat. In January 2020, only 6kg of wild pig meat were seized. 

    Another common problem in Cardamom is the capture of animals for the illegal wildlife trade. These Indian roller chicks were rescured from traders, who raid nests for chicks and eggs to sell. WA's nursery keepers at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre are very busy providing their expert care to give them the best chance of survival and future release. Photo and caption courtesy WA.

    Conservation International Partnership in the Central Cardamom Mountains National Park

    In September 2019, we partnered with Conservation International (CI) to launch a project in the Central Cardamom Mountains National Park (CCMNP).

    Since then, CI has made great progress restructuring the management of CCMNP. To help with this, they performed inventory assessments of ranger stations and worked with the Ministry of Environment to equip 30 rangers with essential patrolling equipment (hammocks, GPS units, boots, first aid equipment, helmets, etc.). CI also provided them with funds for fuel and food, as well as salary supplementations.

    Rangers in the CCMNP continue their patrols even through the tedious wet season.

    CI also conducted trainings on best practices in law enforcement, on strengthening law enforcement and court cases, on patrol strategy, and on GPS and SMART patrol data collection. They also educated local communities on protected area law, so that they understand what they may and may not collect from the forest.

    Illegal forest destruction documented by rangers in the CCMNP.

    From October 2019 to June 2020, rangers in the CCMNP:

    • Conducted 480 patrols across 24,605km
    • Arrested 4 suspects, fined 15 people, and wrote warnings to 30 who had committed offenses in the protected area
    • Confiscated 40.5 cubic meters of illegal timber, one axe, and 87 chainsaws
    • Confiscated 12 air guns, one rifle, and one home-made gun
    • Confiscated 12 sticks of dynamite and 4 batteries used for electro-fishing
    • Removed 595 leg snare traps, 3 drift nets, and one small mammal trap
    • Confiscated 3 cars, 3 carts, 18 tractors, 12 motorbikes, and 11 trucks for transporting illegal timber
    • Recorded 33 hectares of illegal land encroachment
    • Destroyed 29 illegal camps
    • Recorded numerous signs and sightings of 12 large wildlife species

    Illegal timber and chainsaws confiscated by CCMNP rangers.

    Carbon for Forests in Cardamom National Park

    With Carbon Offset Financing, there is a high potential for the entire Cardamom Mountains to be protected, securing clean water, ecosystem services, tourism revenues and better livelihoods for millions of Cambodians. Read more about Carbon for Forests here.

    Clouded leopards are one of the many species that are protected by GPD in Cardamom National Park.

    read more
  11. Tech for Parks: Carbon for Forests
    September 28, 2020

    The forests of the Danum-Maliau-Imbak ecosystem, Sabah, Malaysia.

    Global Conservation’s Carbon for Forests is the first forest-based carbon offset program which directly funds the protection and restoration of tropical forests, using advanced satellite monitoring combined with ISO-standard monitoring and verification.

    Our planet has lost over 40% of our tropical forests over the past twenty years - about 342 million hectares, which is equivalent to three times the size of the country of Colombia or six times the size of Kenya. Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface, but now they cover only 6%. Experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.

    Clear-cut deforestation in the Danum-Maliau-Imbak ecosystem of Malaysia.

    How can carbon offsets help save the world’s forests? Carbon offset financing aims to reduce the global amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by incentivizing projects that capture carbon from the air and store it. In our case, we are working with reforestation projects, because forests store enormous amounts of carbon and therefore release an enormous amount of carbon when they are burned or cut down. Protecting all existing forests would represent at least 30 percent of the action needed to keep global temperature rise at or below 2 degrees Celsius. Consequently, we use carbon offset financing to reward projects that promote good forest management. It works like this: 

    1. An entity, like a corporation (e.g. an oil company), wants to “offset” their carbon emissions by funding projects that capture carbon. They may do this in an effort to reduce their environmental impact or improve corporate social responsibility.
    2. The corporation “buys” a given amount of carbon storage, equivalent to the amount they want to offset, from a program like Carbon for Forests. 
    3. Carbon for Forests reinvests that money into conservation projects that are successfully capturing carbon. The amount of money each conservation project receives is based on how much carbon it is successfully capturing, indicating how successful its reforestation or forest protection programs are. This is called its “Carbon Offset Value”.
    4. This results in incentive-based financing for conservation projects while simultaneously combating global climate change.

    Indonesia - Tropical forest loss over past 20 years due to palm oil plantations, illegal logging and land clearing. Courtesy Global Forest Watch.

    Working with Nature Needs Half, Carbon for Forests is targeting UNESCO World Heritage Sites and national parks in developing countries with the highest rates of deforestation. By comparing national and regional deforestation rates with gains and losses of forest coverage achieved through protection and reforestation programs, Carbon for Forests is able to accurately estimate the Carbon Offset Value (and changes) of each 1-million-acre (405,000-hectare) forest block for monitoring and verification. There are over 100 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and national parks in high-deforestation countries that will be suitable for Carbon for Forests funding.

    Carbon for Forests signs 20-year carbon offset contracts with Large Carbon Emitters (LCEs), such as oil companies. The financing from these contracts guarantees forest protection and reforestation goals in each national park. Annual payments are made in exchange for performance in park protection and reforestation. If there are unexpected gains or losses in forest coverage and carbon values, annual payments are adjusted accordingly. 

    Rangers, like these in the Mirador ecosystem, Guatemala, put their lives on the line each day to protect the world's last intact forests. Carbon offset financing can help ensure that they get the support they need.

    The greatest challenge is accurately measuring the amount of carbon stored in an ecosystem in order to track a project’s performance and determine its Carbon Offset Value. To do this, Global Conservation is partnering with the Arizona State University Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science (ASU GDCS) to use 3D laser (Lidar) and multi-spectral analysis for carbon value verification. Lidar provides detailed three-dimensional information of the forest canopy height and structure across large areas. However there is a cost-based limit to the scale of Lidar measurements. To overcome this, GDCS combines its Lidar measurements with satellite images to map forest carbon across millions of hectares. GDCS’s method allows us to monitor carbon in tropical forests at an unprecedented level of detail. 

    3D LiDAR map of a tropical forest. Courtesy ASU GDCS.

    “Our [work] powerfully demonstrates a new capability to not only measure forest carbon stocks from space, but far more critically, to monitor changes in carbon emissions generated by a huge range of activities in forests,” said Greg Asner, director of ASU GDCS. “The days of mapping forests based simply on standing carbon stocks are behind us now. We are focused on carbon emissions, and that’s precisely what is needed to mitigate biodiversity loss and climate change.”

    3D LiDAR map of a tropical forest. Courtesy ASU GDCS.

    A critical baseline is calculated at the start of each Carbon Offset Contract, with quarterly assessments on progress. All reporting is available 24-7 through an online Carbon for Forests portal. Each year, a review of progress is sent to each investor showing in detail an inventory of all gains and losses in forest coverage and carbon offset values. Based on performance, annual payments are adjusted to reflect decreases/increases in the carbon offset value of the forest protection and reforestation efforts. 

    Protecting half a million hectares of tropical forest prevents almost 450 million tons of carbon dioxide from escaping into the atmosphere at a cost of only US$650-900,000 per year, or approximately $13-18 million over 20 years.

    The forests of the Leuser Ecosystem, Indonesia, are being destroyed at breakneck speed. Burning to make way for agriculture, especially palm oil, is a major driver of this destruction. Carbon offset financing can help to protect these forests.

    Carbon offset financing enables multi-year funding of Global Park Defense for on-the-ground protection of forests and wildlife habitats. Once funding is secured, Global Conservation and our partners support national park authorities to implement Global Park Defense using advanced protection systems, technology, communications and training to achieve “No Cut, No Kill” protection. Our primary goal is to eliminate illegal logging and land clearing, and to reforest destroyed or degraded areas to improve forest coverage and carbon values.

    LiDAR measurements of forests are giving scientists a better understanding of how much carbon is absorbed and stored by forests. Courtesy ASU GDCS.

    Why Carbon for Forests?

    • Protects large intact forests and reforests damaged forests in and around national parks over 25 years. Carbon offsets include both avoided deforestation and reforestation.
    • Directly funds park protection, monitoring and enforcement using Global Park Defense methodology.
    • Reduces CO2 emissions from forest fires due to land clearing and illegal development.
    • Offers a global portfolio of intact forests for carbon offsets to align with corporate social responsibility.
    • Generates growth and employment through sustainable tourism to UNESCO world heritage and national parks, including new infrastructure, roads and community services.
    • Develops human capital in developing countries for park and forest protection, sustainable tourism and resource management.
    • ISO-standard verification and monitoring based on advanced satellite monitoring and science-based forest and carbon offset accounting.
    • Insured for performance against catastrophic forest losses.

    Case Study: Cardamom National Park- Saving Cambodia’s Last Intact Tropical Forest

    In a country like Cambodia, which has faced 20-30% deforestation nationwide over the past 10 years, large-scale forest protection in national parks will be the most direct and effective way to protect the country’s 3.1 million hectares of critical forest ecosystems.

    A threatened clouded leopard in Cardamom National Park, Cambodia.

    Cambodia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, third only to Nigeria and Vietnam, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Cambodian government has played a large role in shaping the use of the country's forests.

    Deforestation has directly resulted from poorly managed commercial logging, wood collection for fuel, agricultural invasion, and infrastructure and urban development. Indirect pressures include rapid population growth, inequalities in land tenure, lack of agricultural technology, and limited employment opportunities.

    The pristine forests and waterways of the Cardamom Mountains make it one of the world's most important biodiversity hotspots.

    Cambodia's primary forest cover fell dramatically from over 70% in 1970 at the end of the Vietnam War to just 3.1% in 2007. Deforestation is proceeding at an alarming rate, with a total forest loss of nearly 75% since the end of the 1990s. In total, Cambodia lost 2.5 million hectares of forest between 1990 and 2005, 334,000 hectares of which was primary forest. As of 2007, less than 322,000 hectares of primary forest remain, with the result that the future sustainability of Cambodia's forest reserves is under severe threat.

    Cardamom National Park was established in 2015 and is in dire need of international financial support in order to save one of Cambodia’s last intact tropical forest. Covering almost a million hectares, Cardamom National Park is protected by Wildlife Alliance in partnership with the Ministries of Environment and Forestry. With Carbon Offset Financing, there is a high potential for the entire Cardamom Mountains to be protected, securing clean water, ecosystem services, tourism revenues and better livelihoods for millions of Cambodians.

    Cardamom National Park is Cambodia's last stronghold for Asian elephants.

    Read the report describing how ASU GDCS uses LiDAR to monitor forest carbon here.

    LiDAR Forest Carbon Monitoring in the News

    Mongabay - Large branches fall from the western Amazon rainforest canopy at a surprising rate

    Climate Central - New Amazon Carbon Maps May Help Limit Deforestation

    Mongabay - World’s rainforests could be mapped in 3D at high resolution by 2020 for under $250M

    Mongabay - Researchers produce the most accurate carbon map for an entire country

    Nature News - Carnegie advances carbon mapping in Colombia

    Mongabay - Breakthrough technology enables 3D mapping of rainforests, tree by tree

    Mongabay - Laser-based forest mapping as accurate for carbon as on-the-ground plot sampling

    Fast Company - How Lasers Can Help Save the World’s Forests

    ScienceDaily - Carbon mapping breakthrough

    read more
  12. Battling Cambodia's Wildlife Snaring Crisis in Cardamom National Park
    September 14, 2020

    Rangers hold snares that they have found in the Cardamom forest and dismantled.

    The Crisis: Snares are driving Southeast Asian wildlife to the brink of extinction

    Over the past decade, snares, which are traps made of wire or rope, have become the biggest threat to wildlife in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. More than 200,000 snares were removed by patrol teams in five protected areas in that region, but even at that rate, law enforcement can’t keep up. 

    As a result, wildlife is being hunted to extinction to feed the demand for bushmeat. Many of Southeast Asia’s ecosystems are now devoid of wildlife, with no mammals larger than a rodent inhabiting these empty forests.

    Though poachers target species that are popular on the bushmeat market, like muntjac deer, wild boar, and porcupines, snares are indiscriminate killers: predators like this clouded leopard are often captured accidentally as bycatch and left to die a slow and painful death.

    Wire snares are often made from bicycle and motorcycle brake cables, and they capture animals indiscriminately, trapping them until poachers return or they die of thirst or infection. Wild boar, muntjac deer, civets, porcupines, and other ground-dwelling animals are frequent victims of snares, and snares have driven the saola, an antelope-like creature that was only discovered by scientists in 1992, to the brink of extinction.

    The Asian wild dog, or dhole, is a crucial predator that is also on the verge of extinction; though dholes are generally not eaten, they are trapped accidentally as bycatch. Deforestation, expanding road networks, and motorbikes have all given poachers a much further reach, making forest interiors more accessible than before.

    Cambodia, in particular, has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, losing four times as much forest in 2014 as it did in 2001, according to Global Forest Watch.

    Southeast Asia's beautiful rainforest, like this one in the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia, are being emptied of their wildlife.

    Protecting Wildlife from Snares and Other Threats

    That’s why the work of our partner, Wildlife Alliance (WA), is so critical. WA has a team of 110 rangers who work tirelessly to remove snares from Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains. In 2018 alone, they removed 20,000 snares and destroyed 779 illegal poachers’ camps across this biodiversity hotspot. Read on to find out more about their successes working with Global Conservation in one of the Cardamom’s worst poaching hotspots over the past few years! 

    Global Park Defense in Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains

    Wildlife Alliance (WA) have partnered with Global Conservation (GC) to deploy Global Park Defense in the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape of Cambodia from 2017 until present, to implement the Global Park Defense System that uses high-tech cameras, drones and towers to strengthen ranger response to poachers, loggers and land grabbers entering the rainforest.

    The Cardamom Rainforest Landscape is the largest remaining contiguous rainforest in mainland South East Asia. The 2,000,000-hectare ridge-to-reef protected area complex is globally significant for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services. It supports more than 55 IUCN threatened species of vertebrates and forms the region’s most important watershed and Cambodia’s largest climate regulator and carbon sink.

    From 2017 to present, 56 Global Park Defense (GPD) trailcams and one repeater tower have been installed in the Cardamom Rainforest, allowing Wildlife Alliance GPD rangers to rapidly identify poachers and loggers and immediately deploy to intercept them.

    GPD trailcams prior to installation.

    2017 Results, Global Park Defense in the Cardamom Mountains

    GPD was first deployed to the Cardamoms over a 20,551 hectare poaching hotspot in Chi Phat, in the heart of the Southern Cardamom National Park, which was named a protected area in 2016. A full time anti-poaching GPD 6-man ranger unit was tasked with patrolling the hotspot, targeting poachers and loggers, and responding to alerts from the GPD trailcams alongside the Stung Proat Wildlife Alliance Ranger Station. Thirteen trailcams were installed in the Chi Phat Hotspot, with an additional three trailcams installed at key points where needed by other ranger stations. In addition to responding to the trailcam alerts, the rangers also patrolled the hotspot systematically. The installation of the cameras and daily active patrols of the GPD team funded by the Morgan Family Foundation dramatically decreased the entrance of poachers into the forest in the GPD Hotspot.

    2017 in Numbers

    • 4 arrests
    • 1,443 hunting snares dismantled
    • 58 hunting hooks removed
    • 11 hunting nets (111 meters in total) removed
    • 12 live wildlife rescued
    • 2 homemade guns seized
    • 2 hunting camps dismantled
    • 2 chainsaws seized.

    A poacher arrested by the GPDS team with a live palm civet in August 2017. The civet was released safely.

    Wildlife surveys conducted within the hotspot in 2017 also found the presence of large numbers of wildlife, highlighting the importance of the GPD program in the Chi Phat Hotspot. Asian elephants, Malayan sun bears, clouded leopards, dhole, Sunda pangolins and Asian golden cats were all recorded, as well as large numbers of prey species such as red muntjac deer and wild boar.

    A Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus), left, and an Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) caught on a camera trap in the Chi Phat Hotspot.

    2018 Results, Global Park Defense in the Cardamom Mountains

    In 2018, six GPD rangers continued to secure the Chi Phat Hotspot. Ten new trailcams were purchased and installed in strategic locations. A trial of solar panel powered trailcams was attempted but ultimately proved ineffective due to a combination of tree canopy cover and intense monsoon rain. The goal for 2018 was to fully secure the Chi Phat Hotspot and subsequently expand to other areas of the Cardamom Rainforest.

    A Wildlife Alliance ranger installs a cellular trailcam in the Cardamom Mountains.

    By the end of the year, the hotspot was considered secured, and the GPD unit wound down operations and handed them over to the nearby Stung Proat Ranger Patrol Station.

    A GPD cellular trailcam alert showing a poacher allowed the GPD rangers to mobilize and rescue a live Critically Endangered Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica).

    2018 in Numbers

    • 295 patrols conducted
    • 64 night ambushes conducted
    • 9,487 km covered
    • 29 court cases prosecuted 
    • 1,882 snares removed
    • 72 live animals saved
    • 199 illegal hunter camps dismantled
    • 35 land encroachments stopped
    • 10 oxcarts with timber seized
    • 47 chainsaws seized
    • 5 guns seized

    2019 Results, Global Park Defense in the Cardamom Mountains

    In the beginning of the year, the six-man GPD ranger team relocated to the Chhay Areng Hotspot to the north of Chi Phat and installed an additional ten trailcams in the new area. This expanded the Global Park Defense System to cover the northern section of the Hunter Trail that moves from Chi Phat (South) to Chhay Areng (North) over 37 km, and the Kamlot Trail that goes from Chhay Areng (North) to Kamlot (East).

    Additionally, two drones were purchased for the team, which allowed the rangers to rapidly identify hunter and logger camps and forest clearing for land grabbing, which could not be spotted from the ground and from rivers. Drone training was provided to the team.

    Due to the remoteness of the area, lack of cellular network reception was the greatest challenge. To counter this, a cellular network repeater was installed to boost the signal and allow the trailcams to be installed over a wider area.

    Installation of the antenna in the Chhay Areng Valley (2018 and 2019).

    Results from 2019

    • 215 patrols conducted 
    • 46 night ambushes conducted
    • 8,905 km covered
    • 2 court cases prosecuted 
    • 2,859 snares removed
    • 11 live animals saved
    • 13 illegal camps dismantled
    • 11 land encroachments stopped
    • 1.4 cubic meters of timber seized
    • 33 chainsaws seized
    • 6 guns seized

    2020 Results to Date, Global Park Defense in the Cardamom Mountains

    January to June 2020: The six-man GPD ranger team was redeployed to the south, to the 30,000-hectare poaching hotspot of Veal Thapou bordering National Road 48. The Chhay Areng drones were handed over to the Cardamom Forest Protection Chhay Areng Ranger Station. The need for this relocation was due to an increase in sales of wildlife meat in nearby restaurants. These restaurants, well-placed to target travelers along the road, were selling wildlife to workers from nearby Chinese Economic Land Concessions and visitors from the capital, Phnom Penh. Twenty additional trailcams were installed in the hotspot. An additional two drones were purchased for identifying and mapping poaching camps, logging and land-grabbing.

    Drone training (with simulator and in the field) and illegal timber discovered through use of the drone.

    In addition to responding to GPD trailcam alerts, the rangers systematically patrolled the GPD hotspot, seizing large numbers of snares, nets, and guns, cracking down on illegal logging, and stopping forestland encroachment attempts. From January to June, the GPD team regularly inspected restaurants on a random basis to crack down on the illegal selling of bushmeat. On January 21st, they collaborated with the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team and raided the Anduong Teuk and Trapeang Rung restaurants, seizing 61 kg of wild boar meat, 59 kg of Bengal monitor meat, eight live Asian leaf turtles and one live Southeast Asian Softshell Turtle. The turtles were released. Subsequently, the team has inspected restaurants once per week but has found no bushmeat, suggesting that the selling has stopped due to law enforcement pressure.

    Above: rescue of a Southeast Asian softshell turtle by the GPDS rangers and WRRT from a restaurant.

    The number of snares found was lower than the baseline, suggesting that the trailcams, anti-poaching patrols and restaurant raids have led to a decline in poaching in the Veal Thapou Hotspot. However, numbers of seized chainsaws and timber were much higher, with illegal loggers attempting to clear the area. The rangers will continue to crack down, but will focus more on logging in this area. At the end of the grant period, ten trailcams remain in the Veal Thapou Hotspot and ten were removed and redistributed to other ranger patrol stations to be used in monitoring key roads and rivers, commonly by loggers and poachers.

    Rangers inspect large quantities of wildlife meat being kept in restaurants for consumption.

    2020 (January-June) in numbers

    • 263 patrols conducted
    • 32 night ambushes conducted
    • 6,585 km covered
    • 3 court cases prosecuted
    • 1,094 snares removed
    • 200m of nets removed
    • 14 live animals rescued
    • 54 illegal camps dismantled
    • 124.66 cubic meters of timber seized
    • 63 chainsaws seized
    • 5 guns seized
    • 1 wildlife poacher arrested

    Next Steps

    The next step in the implementation of GPD in the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape is to continue to scale up operations, especially in the Southern Cardamom National Park. The installation of more trailcams will secure more hotspots that are under threat from poaching and logging, allowing strong protection of the most vulnerable areas of the Cardamom Mountains.

    Installation of new trailcams in the Veal Thapou Hotspot. This river is a known access point for poachers and loggers in the area.

    read more
  13. Tech for Parks: Vulcan EarthRanger
    September 6, 2020

    Rangers using Vulcan EarthRanger systems in Kenya.

    Technology is playing an increasingly important role in conservation. But as the availability of technology increases, so does data management complexity. How does a conservation manager integrate a surge of incoming information from animal GPS collars, cellular trail cameras, field locations of snares from rangers on patrol, drone imagery, and satellite data in the most efficient way possible?

    Vulcan EarthRanger solves that problem. EarthRanger is an easy-to-use online software platform that collects, integrates, and displays all available historical and real-time data from a given protected area. The software combines all of this data into a single, continuously updated map, so that managers can monitor the ecosystem, anticipate potential poaching threats or human-wildlife conflict, and react to ongoing threats in real-time.

    Vulcan’s EarthRanger software pinpoints places where animals were sighted, where potential poachers were encountered, and where rangers are active. Graphic courtesy Vulcan.

    “[Protected area managers] were feeling overwhelmed by [data] and couldn’t use it effectively,” said Ted Schmitt, a long-time Vulcan business developer. He explains that before EarthRanger, operations rooms contained multiple screens, each displaying different data, which were impossible to watch all at once. Even when they could monitor incoming information, it was difficult to visualize patterns between different data sets. 

    Consequently, Schmitt and his team created EarthRanger as a “one-stop data hub” that integrated multiple data streams that used to be housed on separate devices. This gives managers a complete picture of their protected area in real time, allowing them to more quickly deploy ranger teams in response to a threat. They can also use EarthRanger to analyze patterns, helping them to anticipate crimes and apprehend poachers before an animal is killed.

    “It’s the most important tool,” Wesley Gold, law enforcement manager for the Grumeti Fund, which protects wildlife in the Serengeti, told GeekWire. “I’m sitting here in Seattle, and I’m logging on and checking what’s going on back home. If I see anomalies, I can get on the phone and say, ‘Sort that out.’ ”

    "We are now able to focus on interdiction rather than just response,” he says, “That’s how wildlife numbers go up."

    Technology like drones, which can be integrated into the EarthRanger system, is critical for stopping illegal logging in places like Cardamom National Park, Cambodia.

    Some examples of EarthRanger's capabilities:

    1. Managers can monitor multiple wildlife GPS collars and send alerts when an animal wanders out of the reserve or close to a village, allowing them to intervene when necessary and help communities to better co-exist with wildlife.
    2. Use computer vision and machine learning to tally the number of animals in photos captured by drones.
    3. Law enforcement officials can track their ranger teams through GPS-powered walkie-talkies and accurately direct them to the location of suspicious activity.
    4. Comprehensive visualization allows officials to track patterns that inform their patrol deployments – positioning themselves a step ahead of poachers.
    5. Ecological monitoring, which betters scientists understanding of the ecosystem’s health, helps answer questions like, “How should we respond if there's a drought?” and “What does the ecosystem need to look like if we want to reintroduce rhinos?”
    6. Outreach and education events can be input in EarthRanger, and analyzed in terms of how public programming impacts poaching numbers.

    Cellular trailcams can be integrated into EarthRanger, which can send alertts when humans or vehicles are spotted so that law enforcement can respond immediately.

    EarthRanger helps managers figure out how to allocate their resources most efficiently to stop poaching and human-wildlife conflict. For national parks and protected areas that are often short on funds and staff, this “force multiplier” effect is crucial.

    "You’ll never get away from needing boots on the ground," executive director of the Grumeti Fund Stephen Cunliffe told Geographical, "but technology can make sure those boots on the ground are in the right place at the right time."

    Game scout Gotera Gamba of the Grumeti Game Reserve in Tanzania told Reuters that EarthRanger has made rangers’ work easier and more efficient, saving the lives of both wildlife and rangers, who regularly lose their lives to poachers. 

    “Previously our job was very difficult because, for example, if you got an alert it would take a very long time before you go out to respond as you had to note it on a notebook, and rigorous communications with the radio room.”

    EarthRanger has made it easier for conservation managers to keep their eye on multiple data streams at once, and to detect patterns that allow them to intercept poachers. Image courtesy Vulcan.

    EarthRanger data comes from, among others:

    • Ranger-recorded observations directly from CyberTracker-SMART Connect
    • Radio systems with data transmission and GPS-tracking capabilities
    • Animal collars
    • GPS trackers in contraband, like rhino horns or illegal timber
    • Informant information
    • Spatial data layers that give geographic context, like hydrology, human infrastructure, and forest cover
    • Sensor data from camera traps
    • Vehicle sensors
    • Drones and remote sensing images from satellites

    African elephants, like these in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, are safer thanks to EarthRanger, which is a critical part of our Global Park Defense program there.

    EarthRanger was developed by Vulcan, the company founded by Microsoft co-founder, tech pioneer and philanthropist Paul G. Allen. Vulcan is committed to improving our planet and changing the trajectory of some of the world’s most difficult problems, and are perhaps best known for funding and coordinating the $7 million 2014 Great Elephant Census. The Census was the first pan-African survey of savanna elephants in over 30 years, conducted to help understand the current state of African savanna elephants. The census showed 352,271 African savanna elephants in 18 countries—a 30% population decline in just seven years. That census, in part, inspired EarthRanger, which now helps to keep elephants safe.

    The Great Elephant Census was designed to provide accurate and up-to-date data about the number and distribution of African elephants by using standardized aerial surveys of tens of hundreds of thousands of square miles. Image courtesy Vulcan.

    The data are stored in a secure cloud platform and readily accessible to visualize through the EarthRanger web app, an iOS app, Google Earth or to be downloaded for further analysis within GIS software. A total of 20 locations worldwide are currently using EarthRanger, and since its first deployment in 2017, rangers and park managers have used EarthRanger to log more than 32,000 security reports, remove more than 13,000 snares and make more than 1,170 arrests. 

    In 2017, the black market price of ivory was about $725 per kilogram ($329 per pound) – making each individual elephant tusk worth $50,000 on average. Shana Tischler, Vulcan’s strategy manager for ivory trafficking, explains that poachers typically camp out for the duration of the rainy season, when it's harder for rangers to conduct patrols. One piece of ivory is worth it, providing an African family financial support for a year.

     

    EarthRanger is a critical tool in battling ivory poaching. The technology allows protected area managers to identify poaching hotspots, watch elephant movements, and predict poaching events, helping to save the lives of these gentle giants. With the help of EarthRanger, conservation managers and law enforcement in Kenya's Masai Mara reduced elephant poaching incidents from 96 deaths in 2012 to just four in 2018, making 354 arrests of poachers during that time.

    Vulcan has announced a Summer 2020 EarthRanger update release, which marks a key milestone in the evolution of the product. Graphic courtesy Vulcan.

    Vulcan EarthRanger in the News

    Medium - The elephant in the map: How EarthRanger protects wildlife with real-time data

    Paul Allen Foundation - Technology is Changing the Game for Eric the Rhino

    NPR - Elephants Under Attack Have An Unlikely Ally: Artificial Intelligence

    WIRED - The wild experiment to bring apex predators back from the brink

    Forbes - Want to Stop Poaching? Build a Smart Park

    GeekWire - EarthRanger program widens focus from elephant killers to cross-species diplomacy

    NPR - Using AI In Malawi To Save Elephants

    Geographical - The anti-poaching technology that’s saving wildlife across Africa

    Nasdaq - How Advanced Technology Can Help Save Wildlife, And The Companies Behind Them

    Phys.org - Technology is useful, but drones alone won't save Africa's elephants

    GeekWire - Vulcan gets into the drone-building business to fight wildlife poachers in Africa

    Reuters - Tanzanian rangers harness new technology to fight poachers

    Fast Company - Paul Allen’s new machine learning center for impact is figuring out what poachers will do next

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  14. Tech for Parks: Global Forest Watch
    September 5, 2020

                                    The forests of the Borjomi National Park, Republic of Georgia.

    Forests are among the most important habitats on our planet: four out of every five plant and animal species live in them, and forests are critical for clean water, clean air, and combating climate change. Yet, forests are being destroyed at a rate of fifty football fields a minute. In 2019, 3.7 million hectares of tropical primary forest were destroyed – the third highest year of forest loss in recorded history. 

    Fires set for land clearing are among the many threats to the Leuser Ecosystem's forests.

    One of the reasons that deforestation is out of control is because it often happens out of sight of people who have the power to stop it. Analyzing satellite data can take years, and by the time large-scale deforestation is identified, the damage has already been done. It’s hard to manage what you can’t measure. That’s where Global Forest Watch comes in.

    What is Global Forest Watch?

    Global Forest Watch (GFW) is an award-winning platform that was created by the World Resources Institute in 1997. In 2014, they launched a free, fully interactive online platform with forest monitoring data for the whole world, creating unprecedented transparency about the state of our planet’s forests. 

    Forests contain most of the world's biodiversity, including this clouded leopard from Cardamom National Park, Cambodia.

    GFW makes the best available data about forests available online for anyone to access, supporting smarter decisions about how to manage forests and allowing the public to hold governments and companies accountable for forest destruction. It works by using cutting-edge algorithms to harness the power of cloud computing and satellite technology to identify where trees are growing and disappearing in near-real-time. Officials and law enforcement can sign up for alerts to let them know when deforestation is happening, which allows them to stop illegal logging before more forests are lost. Business managers for companies can see if suppliers of commodities like palm oil, soy, beef, and lumber are clearing forests (for example, read about how Unilever uses Global Forest Watch for sustainable palm oil sourcing). Local community members can even report deforestation from their mobile phone when they witness it, and citizen scientists can help review data or use it to campaign for forest protection.

    Palm oil production is one of the greatest threats to tropical primary forests. Global Forest Watch can help companies determine which suppliers might be supporting deforestation, and to buy from growers in areas with more sustainable practices.

    Five categories of data sets are available on the Global Forest Watch platform: Forest Change Data, Forest Cover Data, Forest Use Data, Conservation Data, and People Data.

    Forest loss (areas in pink) in Indonesia from 2001 to 2016, by Global Forest Watch.

    Data from Global Forest Watch Climate show Cambodia’s 2001-2014 tree cover loss resulted in the release of around 552.5 million metric tons of CO2.

    The Forest Watcher App: Making deforestation data available offline

    For Global Conservation’s projects, one of the most important elements of GFW is the Forest Watcher app. Although satellite technology has recently allowed huge advances in our understanding of deforestation, that information is useless unless it gets into the hands of the people who can stop forest destruction. Forest Watcher allows rangers to access GFW data and forest watch alerts offline, which is critical in areas with limited to no cell signal.

    The Forest Watcher app is crucial for rangers working in areas with little to no cell signal, like this team in the Mirador jungle of Guatemala.

    Using cached data, the app directs users to nearby forest clearing and enables them to capture photos and fill out forms about deforestation, which are uploaded next time their device connects to the internet. The app connects satellite surveillance to boots on the ground, allowing rangers on patrol to know exactly where to look for deforestation and stop the illegal activity before it gets out of control. Forest Watcher is free, open source, and available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Bahasa Indonesian.

    Forest Watcher allows users to:

    • Designate area(s) of interest to monitor
    • Download various satellite-based forest change and other contextual data (e.g. near real-time deforestation alerts, protected areas, and intact forest landscapes) onto a mobile device
    • Navigate to alerts in the field, even without internet connection
    • Collect information, including GPS points and photos, through customizable forms
    • Review, analyze, and download data collected via the app

    Patrolling the forests of Cardamom National Park, Cambodia.

    How to use Global Forest Watch to visualize global forest data

    Watch more Global Forest Watch tutorials here, and read the Pulitzer Center's Introduction to Global Forest Watch Resources for Journalists webinar here

    Global Forest Watch Conservation Applications

    Global Forest Watch and the Forest Watcher app are used every day by governments, law enforcement, private enterprise, NGOs and the public - just click on some of the links under "Global Forest Watch in the News" below to see some examples of GFW's various applications. 

    Global Forest Watch Fires data, which is based on the NASA Active Fires data, were used to identify illegal burning that caused the 2015 Southeast Asian haze crisis. The same dataset is being used now to track the current global fires crisis. NGOs have used GFW data to track deforestation in Cambodia, which is now being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Global Forest Watch has allowed NGOs to track increasing rates of deforestation in Cambodia, where these Asian elephants live.

    Our partners in Indonesia, HAkA, deployed Forest Watcher with global forest monitors in the Leuser Ecosystem. With Global Conservation’s support, Global Forest Watch trained more than 40 Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL) rangers and Aceh Forestry staff in satellite-based fire and deforestation monitoring. Rangers used to manually inspect raw satellite imagery, and then send patrols to the field with pen and paper to collect information. With Forest Watcher, deforestation alerts come straight to their cell phones, which they can also then use to collect GPS points, photo evidence, and notes on the deforestation event. This way, they can efficiently report evidence to local authorities for investigation and prosecution of illegal forest destruction. 

    Global Conservation also funded the deployment of Global Forest Watch and Forest Watcher systems with the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) in Kibale National Park, Uganda. By using the Global Forest Watch platform in combination with mobile technologies to improve forest monitoring, GFW is helping to strengthen the work of JGI to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. The Budongo and Bugoma Forest Reserves in western Uganda are home to an estimated 1,157 chimpanzees. However, loss of forest in the vital corridors between these reserves threatens the connectivity and survival of these chimpanzee populations.

    Forest Watcher and GLAD forest loss alerts helped successfully detect new deforested areas along the park boundaries. “Thanks to GLAD alerts, the park management were able to prevent further illegal activities and encroachment that could have spread deeper into the national park,” said Timothy Akugizibwe, the Jane Goodall Institute officer in Uganda that is training rangers to use Forest Watcher.

    GFW Forest Alerts in Kibale Conservation Area

    In 2017, of the 273 Forest Lost Alerts, 219 (80%) had evidence of true Forest Loss after ground truthing by ranger teams in the park.

    • Construction of Public Facility: 19

    • Construction, Residential: 3

    • Farming Crops: 147

    • Farming Livestock: 12

    • Massive Charcoal Burning: 2

    • Illegal Logging: 32

    • Other: 4

      TOTAL: 219 Deforestation Events

    “With Forest Watcher, we can now have intelligence-led patrols in Kibale National Park,” reported Agaba Hillary Kumanya, a senior warden for ecological monitoring with the Uganda Wildlife Authority. “We no longer go randomly to places, but instead know where to look for the latest forest loss.” 

    Global Forest Watch has been a true game-changer for the protection of our planet's forests. Technological advances like this are crucial for defending our last wildernesses. To read more about how Global Conservation uses technology like this in our Global Park Defense program, click here.

    Global Forest Watch in the News

    Mongabay - Around the world, a fire crisis flares up, fueled by human actions

    Computer Weekly - The burning issue: fighting forest fires with technology

    Mongabay - Under cover of COVID-19, loggers plunder Cambodian wildlife sanctuary

    Independent - Global fires are up 13% from 2019’s record-breaking numbers

    The Economist - The world is losing its big old trees

    World Economic Forum - These charts show what forest loss looks like across the globe

    Mongabay - How much rainforest is being destroyed?

    Phys.org - Brazil drives increase in worldwide forest loss

    The New York Times - ‘Going in the Wrong Direction’: More Tropical Forest Loss in 2019

    Mongabay - Global Forest Watch offers mapping and data visualization fellowships

    BBC - Amazon under threat: Fires, loggers and now virus

    Mongabay - Marijuana cultivation whittling away Madagascar’s largest connected forest

    Mongabay - Record-high global tree cover loss driven by agriculture

    read more
  15. Global Conservation Celebrates 5 Years Protecting Endangered Parks and Wildlife
    March 22, 2020

    Since 2015, Global Conservation hasz made over 100 mission to endangered UNESCO World Heritage and national parks in developing countries for deploying Global Park Defense systems and project assessments with our incredible Partners in Conservation.

    Below are a few photos from various missions around the world to help protect our vanishing intact forests and ecosystems and last endangered species from extinction.

    GC Missions - 2015 - 2020

    DaMaI Rainforest Complex, Sabah Borneo, Malaysia


    Mana Pools World Heritage Site, Zimbabwe

    Cabo Pulmo World Heritage, Baja Sur Mexico

    Mirador National Park, Guatemala

    Leuser Ecosystem, Sumatra, Indonesia

    Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

     

    Thap Lan World Heritage, Thailand

    Cardamom National Park, Cambodia

    Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park, Myanmar

     

    Sierra del Divisor National Park, Peru

    Borjomi National Park, Republic of Georgia

    Carpathians National Park, Ukraine

    Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

    Chitwan World Heritage, Nepal

    Working to save our endangered world heritage parks and wildlife for future generations.

     

     

     

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