MacArthur Awards $4.5 Million to Support Biodiversity in Southeast Asia

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced sixteen grants totaling nearly $4.5 million for efforts to protect the biodiversity of the Lower Mekong region, which stretches from central Vietnam, through Laos and Cambodia, to the Mekong River delta.

The region, one of the most biologically diverse in the world, is threatened by logging, the expansion of cash-crop plantations, and a variety of infrastructure projects. The grants will be used to help local institutions strengthen staff capacity and planning techniques to better manage forest resources.

The largest grant — $600,000 over three years — was awarded to the Wildlife Conservation Society to work with government officials in Cambodia and Laos to develop a management plan for Mondulkiri Province (Cambodia) and Bolikhamxay Province (Laos) that will include strategies to address illegal hunting of wildlife and forest loss, promote alternatives for using resources that do not threaten biodiversity, and monitor implementation of the plan in the two regions. Other grants include $575,000 over three years to the World Wildlife Fund to plan and implement a sustainable forestry plan in southern Laos, and $380,000 over three years to Community Forestry International to engage rural communities as resident managers of Cambodia's tropical forests in four provinces.

"The economies of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia are among the most dynamic in the world, demonstrating new levels of entrepreneurship and creativity in business," said MacArthur president Jonathan F. Fanton. "That same spirit animates the conservation sector, as provincial governments, universities, and scientific institutes reach out to local communities to involve them more directly in forest protection and management. These grants support innovative partnerships that will help the Mekong Delta region preserve biodiversity and natural resources."

For a complete list of recipients, visit:

"MacArthur Awards 16 Grants Totaling Nearly $4.5 Million for Biodiversity Conservation in the Lower Mekong." John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Press Release 06/12/2006.