Conservation International (CI) today announced an unprecedented global initiative to stop species extinctions in biodiversity hotspots and to protect large areas of major tropical wilderness areas.

To launch this effort, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is providing CI with the largest gift ever given to a private conservation group, with a series of grants totaling up to $261 million over 10 years. With an alliance of conservation partners, CI aims to secure $1.5 billion in private investments over the next 10 years, and leverage another $4.5 billion from the public sector. Earth's millions of species are most densely packed in 25 biodiversity hotspots in more than 40 countries, and in the three remaining major tropical rainforests of the world. The projected result of the $6 billion investment will protect the highest priority regions of the hotspots (a total area comparable to New York State) and within the major tropical wilderness areas (an area the size of Alaska).

The initiative will create strong global alliances, bolster scientific field research and offer new economic options to protect biodiversity. "The rate of species loss and habitat destruction demands immediate action," said Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel Corporation. "Collaboration is critical and we expect CI to continue to build strong alliances and maintain its commitment to solid science and innovative thinking. We also hope this investment will stimulate participation from a broad sector of society."

A blueprint for the initiative was developed during the Defying Nature's End conference organized by the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) at CI, and co-chaired by Gordon Moore and Harvard Professor Edward O. Wilson at the California Institute of Technology in August 2000.

"To protect global biodiversity you need to target the highest priority places to be protected, create the right alliances, and achieve innovative, lasting results. The Moore Foundation's commitment gives CI the confidence and the firepower to launch this initiative," said Peter A. Seligmann, CI Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "We intend to create coherent alliances, operational and financial partnerships, constructive dealings with economic and social forces, and build the scientific foundation for measuring success. We ask organizations who share a common vision to join us."

The CI initiative emphasizes partnerships while dramatically increasing expert and technical capabilities in the field. It will remedy gaps in scientific data through extensive field research and enable conservation to be an income-producing alternative to logging or other extractive industries. The Moore Foundation grants will be contingent upon CI accomplishing agreed upon outcomes as the initiative unfolds. Since its founding in 1987, CI has focused on protecting biodiversity in the hotspots, wilderness areas and key marine areas. Working in more than 30 countries, CI's success in building partnerships with local communities, nongovernmental groups, business and governments lays the groundwork for this initiative.

The 25 biodiversity hotspots cover just 1.4 percent of the Earth's land surface, yet claim more than 60 percent of total terrestrial biodiversity. Under extreme threat, many hotspots have lost more than 90 percent of their original natural habitat. The major wilderness areas - Amazonia, New Guinea and the Congo Forest - are vast expanses of species-rich habitat, and the key marine areas are among the most biologically rich and productive ocean environments.

The focus of the initiative in the hotspots is extinction prevention, with a strong emphasis on the conservation of critically endangered species. In the wilderness areas, the focus is to set aside large areas of pristine habitat and maintain ecological processes. The initiative will establish:
  • Frontline Strength -- New Centers for Biodiversity Conservation (CBCs) will provide the leadership, and technical and financial assistance needed for operative coalitions of non-profits, government and the private sector to ensure biodiversity conservation. Significant funds for the operations of CBCs within the countries will be devoted to local partner organizations. Building upon CI's current field presence, the first CBCs will be in the Andes, Madagascar, Brazil and the Guianas, and Melanesia.
  • Solid Science -- A first-ever global network of research field stations will provide long-term monitoring within important tropical ecosystems, and enable scientists to recognize early warnings of major shifts in the status of biodiversity. The initiative will create 10 field stations, which will be integrated with at least another 40 field stations to be added to the global network through other funding sources.
  • Competitive Capital -- Logging and other activities that harm biodiversity are often the only economic choice for developing countries with rich biological resources. A well-capitalized Global Conservation Fund provides an alternative to extractive industries. The fund will allow rapid action to create new protected areas in key sites, and will augment management of existing protected areas. "This incredible commitment from the Moore Foundation enables us to come to grips with biodiversity issues in some of the richest, most diverse and most endangered corners of our planet, and should set a standard for private philanthropy that we hope others follow," said CI President Russell A. Mittermeier.

"Scientists from around the world as well as business leaders came together to collaborate at Defying Nature's End, and the result was a focused and smart agenda. This initiative is based on that collaboration, and it provides a manageable and attainable solution for the biodiversity crisis," said Gustavo Fonseca, CABS Executive Director.

For information about the Moore Foundation, visit

Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth's richest regions of plant and animal diversity in the biodiversity hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas and key marine ecosystems. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information about CI, visit

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