The World Bank's work toward protecting biodiversity includes establishing and expanding protected area systems, such as the Amazon Region Protected Areas program (ARPA) in Brazil. and the new Regional Amazon Landscape Program financed by GEF and covering Brazil, Colombia and Peru. The program has helped protect around 60 million hectares of rainforest. A study published by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences credits ARPA with a 37% decrease in deforestation between 2004 and 2009. The Bank is also applying the lessons learned from this experience into a new project in Brazil that aims to triple the marine area under protection while directly benefiting 800,000 people.
The World Bank is increasingly supporting clients to implement a more integrated approach where ensuring sustainable livelihoods are seen as key strategy towards protecting areas that are rich in natural capital. Mozambique’s conservation areas have been designated to protect the country’s diverse habitats —which include a coastline with spectacular coral reefs and more than 6,000 plant, bird and mammal species. Mozambique Conservation Areas for Biodiversity and Development Project (MozBio), has 20,000 beneficiaries in the Chimanimani, Maputo, Gilé and Quirimbas National Parks, almost half of whom are women. With its unique model of sharing 20% of state revenue with communities, the MozBio project has generated tens of thousands of dollars in income derived from tourism. Over 1,600 jobs in nature-based tourism have been created since 2014.The second phase of the project, goes through 2023 and aims to further support rural communities while continuing conservation and biodiversity efforts.
Ensuring biodiversity considerations are factored into World Bank infrastructure projects is another key area of work. For example, in the Malawi Shire Valley Transformation Project, the main irrigation canal will include a tall, permanent drop structure to prevent the possibility that invasive fish species could enter Lake Malawi, a globally renowned freshwater ecosystem with hundreds of fish species found nowhere else. In Laos, the Nam Theun II hydroelectricity project led to the establishment of a major new national protected area along the watershed of the Nakai River.
The Bank also makes investments that support the long-term viability of biodiverse areas, and helps establish institutions that safeguard natural capital. In South Africa’s iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a strategic US$9 million investment led to the ecological restoration of Lake St. Lucia, South Africa’s largest estuary and a World Heritage Site. This innovative protected area project also provides a model for effective benefit-sharing with local communities, as well as for resolving pending land claims in ways that do not damage the Park’s biodiversity or tourism value.
The Coastal & Biodiversity Management Project in Guinea-Bissau helped establish the autonomous Institute for Biodiversity and Protected Areas (IBAP), to manage the country’s network of protected areas and endangered species. The project helped conserve 480,000 hectares of its coastal zone (13 % of the territory), together with local communities. These protected areas are considered national assets and are intended to form the backbone of a future tourism industry.
In Gabon, the World Bank helped enhance the conservation of biodiversity in parks, buffer zones, and forested wetlands. The projects expanded the knowledge and expertise of conservation-related entities and put in place an efficient monitoring system for wetland ecosystems. Income-generating activities have also reduced illegal fishing and poaching and promoted eco-responsible behavior in adjacent communities. These efforts contributed to the addition of nine natural sites making up 2.8 million hectares to the RAMSAR-classified sites.