AKIPRESS.COM - The United States congratulates the Kyrgyz Republic on hosting the successful International Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Forum held in Bishkek August 23-25, Kimberly Rosen, USAID Kyrgyz Republic Mission Director, said.
The twelve snow leopard range-countries reaffirmed their strong support for the conservation of snow leopards and high mountain ecosystems and signed the Bishkek Declaration 2017: Caring for Snow Leopards and Mountains - Our Ecological Future.
The U.S. Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was honored to be one of the primary sponsors of this important Forum. USAID provided USD 150,000 for the organization and logistics of the 2017 Snow Leopard Forum, which enabled 36 delegates -- government officials representing the nine snow leopard-range countries (Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) -- to attend the Forum.
For over 25 years, the United States has partnered with the Kyrgyz Republic on a diverse set of programs to ensure greater stability, prosperity, and security in the country, including programs for the protection of endangered species like the snow leopard, as well as research on glacier melt and other environmental concerns.
Since 2013, USAID has worked hand-in-hand with the State Agency on Environmental Protection and Forestry along with other donors, civil society organizations, communities, scientists, and citizens. Our partnership works to protect the snow leopard and its threatened mountain ecosystems, advancing regional cooperation among the countries that share the landscapes of this charismatic animal.
Given that these ecosystems are one of the most important sources of Asia's water, their conservation and protection are paramount to the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people throughout the region, including in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Ever since the first Snow Leopard Forum in 2013, USAID has worked with the World Wildlife Fund to support the regional Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program. With our five-year, over USD 7 million project, Conservation and Adaptation in Asia’s High Mountains, we have also supported pilots for innovative methods to protect snow leopards across six countries: Bhutan, India, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, and Pakistan.
Through our work, we encourage environmentally friendly development to reduce the degradation of snow leopard habitats and enhance the resilience of both people and ecosystems. We seek to research and protect high mountain wildlife and glacial zones. This cannot be done without also connecting and integrating snow leopard conservation into local livelihoods, water and food security, and environmental adaptation.
The Asia’s High Mountains project has directly supported the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program member countries. Some of the project’s achievements in the Kyrgyz Republic include:
- Empowering local communities to study and protect snow leopards;
- Providing innovative solutions to mitigate conflict between humans and snow leopards;
- Supporting the development of landscape management plans for Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) priority landscapes in Nepal and the Kyrgyz Republic that could serve as models for replication amongst the other 10 GSLEP member countries;
- Training national focal points and support staff on incorporating weather impact in landscape management planning; and
- Supporting both the original 2013 Global Snow Leopard Conservation Forum, and the 2017 Second Snow Leopard Forum.
"We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Kyrgyz Republic and to building on the success of this international forum to enhance environmental conservation and sustainable development throughout the region. Together we can save the snow leopard and preserve our iconic snowy peaks for generations to come," Kimberly Rosen concluded.