Helping to Save “the Kidneys of the Earth”: Main Streams of Life (MSL) – The Wetland Protected Area System Strengthening Programme

02 Apr 2014

imageThe wetlands of Altai, Xinjiang.

From a bird’s-eye view above the Altai Wetlands in Xinjiang, the winding waterways extend into free-flowing rivers and green mountains. These wetlands and their natural beauty encourage local and international nature-lovers to contribute to and innovate for strengthened environmental conservation efforts.

Coordinating closely with the Xinjiang Forestry Department, the Liangheyuan Provincial Nature Reserve Management Bureau, and the Altai Mountains Forestry Bureau, UNDP China signed the Project Document entitled “CBPF-MSL: Strengthening the Management Effectiveness of the Protected Area Landscape in the Altai Mountains and Wetlands” with the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Xinjiang Forestry Department. The project was jointly launched by the Xinjiang Forestry Department and UNDP on 2 April 2014 with the official recruitment of Project Management Office (PMO) staff.

Wetlands play an important ecological and socioeconomic role. Covering 6% of the world’s land surface and holding approximately 12% of the global carbon pool, wetlands are vitally important for ecosystems and carbon sequestration, providing key habitats for flora and fauna. Over the past 50 years, China has lost nearly 1.5 million hectares of natural wetlands, resulting in an annual loss of ecosystem services equivalent to USD 1.57 billion.

In order to strengthen the management effectiveness of the wetland protected areas sub-system and conserve globally significant biodiversity, the CBPF-MSL Programme seeks to address this issue as well as other underlying barriers hampering effective wetland management. The project will be supported by a total budget of USD 26 million from GEF V. Its successful implementation will set a new benchmark in China’s overall efforts to create an “environmentally friendly, resource-efficient society” and support progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

With strong support and guidance from the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the State Forestry Administration (SFA), the Project Documents were formulated and signed by MOF, Implementing Partners, and UNDP/FAO. These were products of the joint efforts of seven related provinces and contributions from a panel of international and domestic experts following numerous field visits and comprehensive consultations with related stakeholders in the seven provinces. Most of the Project Management Offices (PMOs) have been established for on-the-ground implementation of the projects in the coming five years. 

Scientifically sound research and analysis were essential to the project formulation process. The experts panel composed of distinguished national and international specialists played a key role in integrating cutting-edge technologies and best practices with localized development styles. They helped communicate the concerns of local stakeholders while offering solutions.

UNDP is committed to supporting the MSL Programme through sharing global expertise from both technical and managerial perspectives. It will work with international partners and explore results-oriented and adaptive management approaches to optimize contributions from all parties in the next five years.