14 Apr 2016 Press release Ecosystems

New UN Web Tool Demonstrates Climate Benefits of Protecting Apes

Monrovia, 14 April 2016 - A new web-based tool, launched in Liberia's capital Wednesday, shows how protecting great apes in Africa and Asia can help countries fight climate change. The online app superimposes maps of great ape ranges and of forest carbon stocks, allowing policymakers to better identify conservation priority areas.

The tool was launched by the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) and the United Nations Collaborative Programme for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD Programme).

The GRASP - REDD+ Mapping Project was introduced at the GRASP Regional Meeting - West Africa, which brought together partners from nine West African countries to discuss key conservation issues in the region.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said "Collaborative efforts are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Addressing both great ape habitat conservation and forest protection through the cooperation between these two UNEP supported global programmes is a prime example of a more integrated approach to sustainability that demonstrates the potential for co-benefits."

Harrison S. Karnwea, Managing Director of Liberia's Forestry Development Authority (FDA) called the GRASP-REDD+ Mapping Project an importance resource.

"This will help us a great deal here in Liberia," he said. "It will help us in determining which areas are important and should receive our highest priority. Conservation is a great resource, and applying it scientifically in this way is very innovative."

The GRASP - REDD+ Mapping Project is designed to identify priority areas for implementing REDD projects while also considering co-benefits for the conservation of great apes. The maps are designed to help decision-makers, climate specialists and conservation organizations access data and link the carbon and great ape layers with other context data.

GRASP and UN-REDD worked with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology to develop the on-line tool, which can be accessed through the Ape Populations, Environments and Surveys (A.P.E.S.) database, a web-based decision support system http://primatdbext.eva.mpg.de/redd/.

"It is increasingly important that conservation efforts work closely together, particularly in areas of mutual concern," said GRASP coordinator Doug Cress. "You cannot protect apes in Africa or Asia without also protecting the forests in which they live, and this project does an excellent job of emphasizing the overlap. GRASP and UN-REDD have a number of shared priorities, and we will further intensify our collaboration."

The GRASP-REDD+ Mapping Project places special emphasis on potential corridor areas that could link fragmented and endangered great ape populations and have the potential for reforestation.

Carbon stocks in forests perform essential ecological functions and supply clean water and air. The loss of these stocks through agricultural development, logging and fires can account for up to 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In order to limit the impacts of climate change, it will be necessary to reduce emissions from the forest sector.


GRASP is the unique alliance of 102 national governments, research institutions, conservation organizations, United Nations agencies, and private companies committed to the long-term survival of great apes and their habitat in Africa and Asia. Great apes are found in 21 countries across Equatorial Africa and two more in Asia, but their numbers are in steep decline due to habitat loss and human encroachment. All great ape species - chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos - are classified as endangered or critically endangered. For more information, visit www.un-grasp.org or contact [email protected]. About UN-REDD

The UN-REDD Programme is the "United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) in Developing Countries." The Programme was launched in 2008 and builds on the convening role and technical expertise of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The UN-REDD Programme supports nationally led REDD+ processes and promotes the informed and meaningful involvement of all stakeholders, including indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities, in national and international REDD+ implementation. For more information visit www.un-redd.org.