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FEATURE STORYOctober 5, 2022

Enhancing ecological connectivity in the projects of the Amazon Sustainable Landscapes and Global Wildlife Programs

Amazon Sustainable Landscapes Program

Viruá National Park (State of Roraima), Brazil. Photo by Victor Moriyama / FUNBIO


  • Habitat loss and fragmentation are key threats that drive biodiversity loss worldwide.
  • The Amazon Sustainable Landscapes Program (ASL) and the Global Wildlife Program (GWP) projects are promoting improvements in landscape connectivity.
  • The ASL and GWP teams commissioned a series of workshops to promote the exchange of knowledge and learn about the latest connectivity and corridors science for their national projects.

Imagine a young male jaguar in the tropical Central American forests looking for a mate. In theory, it could roam from Mexico to Argentina, ensuring that its genetic pool is mixed for a good continuation of the species. In practice, it would have to go through rivers and mountains, but also human-made obstacles such as roads, cities, agricultural fields, and other open areas that hinder its travel.

All around the world, ecosystem fragmentation caused by human activity continues to disrupt habitats—threatening biodiversity and impeding climate change adaptation. While protected areas are the foundation of nature conservation by preserving ecosystems, retaining ecological connectivity is essential and more so in a time of climate change. In response, an increasing number of conservation projects are seeking to better conserve ecological connectivity—the unimpeded movement of species and the flow of natural processes that sustain life on Earth. This includes safeguarding critical linkages between natural areas that can support wildlife movement, gene flow, free flowing rivers, and other natural processes essential to healthy landscapes.

Both the Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded Amazon Sustainable Landscapes Program (ASL) and the Global Wildlife Program (GWP), led by the World Bank, support national efforts by participating projects to improve landscape connectivity in their regions, responding to their needs for guidance, tools, and best practices to ensure efficient and successful results.

On-the-ground efforts to improve connectivity and establish or maintain corridors take many forms. For example, an ASL national project in the Colombian Amazon works with communities and institutions to promote low-carbon development and forest connectivity to enhance resilience of people and wildlife to climate change. Another ASL project in Ecuador is improving the ecological connectivity by establishing two ecological corridors and associated management mechanisms to ensure the conservation of biodiversity and surrounding ecosystems over the long term.

In Botswana, a GWP project is promoting integrated landscape approaches for improving drylands ecosystem resilience and reducing human-wildlife conflict through recognition and management of ecological corridors for migratory animals such as elephants. And a GWP project in Indonesia is strengthening management of multi-use landscapes for community livelihoods and the conservation of globally threatened species, including designing ecological corridors between existing protected and conserved areas for the daily and seasonal movements of individual and groups of species.

Starting in April 2022, the ASL and GWP commissioned a series of workshops to promote the exchange of knowledge among their national projects and the use of the latest knowledge about connectivity and corridors. Annika Keeley from the Center for Large Landscape Conservation (CLLC) and Diego Juffe Bignoli, Biodiversity Conservation Expert, brought their expertise to lead the sessions. The "Corridor and Connectivity Training and Capacity Building Initiative” workshop series brings together project teams from 40+ countries to understand successful interventions and share common challenges on planning for and managing corridors. With this training, the ASL and GWP take an ambitious approach to bringing stakeholders from three continents together to accelerate local and regional solutions for conserving biodiversity, preserving landscapes, and achieving inclusive development.

An introductory meeting was held virtually in late April to kick off the workshop series. With nearly 100 participants representing many of the projects’ combined 47 national projects, the group was introduced to key concepts in connectivity conservation and participated in an interactive brainstorming session where GWP and ASL national project staff met their peers and shared challenges and experiences. Insights gained helped the team plan future sessions on corridor planning and management.

Lioness and cubs in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, Credit: Gregoire Dubois

Lioness and cubs in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Photo credit: Gregoire Dubois.

The two-day “Planning for Connectivity Conservation” workshop held June 28–29 brought together about 60 participants with speakers from CLLC staff and members of the IUCN WCPA Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group. With hands-on training and featured presentations by ASL and GWP project teams from Bhutan, Botswana, Colombia, and Ecuador, the workshop covered priority topics such as corridor planning experiences, spatial planning for mapping current and potential movement corridors, and governance for connectivity. Amrita Neelakantan from CLLC and Lucy Waruingi from the African Conservation Center shared their experience from India and Africa on governance in connectivity, providing valuable insights into the importance of inclusive stakeholder engagement to ensure effective and enduring connectivity conservation.Attended by nearly 80 participants from 28 countries, the third session in September focused on management plans and dug deeper into how to implement connectivity conservation across projects, sites, and landscapes. Discussions centered on integrating connectivity conservation in projects, including best management practices, and presented real case studies from the ASL, GWP, and beyond from Ecuador, India, and Colombia. There was also a hands-on activity on adaptive management and monitoring of corridors and connectivity.

The final event in the series is an October 20th webinar between 9–11 am EST to share tools and best practices that can ensure public participation in corridor planning, implementation, and/or monitoring. Diego Juffe Bignoli and Annika Keeley will provide an overview in public participation in connectivity conservation and Jessica Thorn, a lecturer in sustainable development at the School of Geography and Sustainable Development at the University of St Andrews will discuss approaches and tools. A case study on jaguars in Colombia will also be presented. To participate, register here and please help spread the word.

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