Gorillas are gentle giants. Like us, they play, hug, and laugh. But they’re endangered and under assault.
These gentle giants are facing a three-fold struggle for existence: they are killed for their meat; their habitats are destroyed by logging, mining, agriculture, and other invasive activities; and infectious diseases ravage their families.
And if we don’t act now, they’ll soon have another threat. Federal lawmakers are planning to cut vital funding for international conservation programs that save gorillas’ lives and protect their habitats.
The tragedy is that these cuts are too small to make a difference in the federal budget, but large enough to completely cripple efforts to save gorillas.
Send a letter to your members of Congress right now and urge them to stand up for Africa’s gorillas.
I strongly urge you to protect biodiversity funding within U.S. foreign aid in the Fiscal Year 2012 budget. These programs often operate in areas ravaged by decades of civil and political strife, such as the Republic of Congo. Maintaining stability in these regions by providing necessary opportunities for economic development has important repercussions for America's national security and trade relations. The bottom line is that cutting foreign assistance is short-sighted and it's bad fiscal policy. Cutting foreign assistance harms America.
A vivid example of this is occurring now in Africa through the Central African Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE). In their work to conserve rare gorillas, conservationists are improving security and development problems in that region. For countries in conflict, often the only thing they can agree on is saving a threatened species like gorillas. This “environmental diplomacy” helps open a dialogue that will pay political dividends in the region. In addition, new national parks are setting a foundation for private investment in the form of ecotourism, which creates economic opportunity and development.
The U.S. government's investment in central Africa, in the form of seed money from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Biodiversity Program support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and technical assistance from the U.S. Forest Service International Program (FSIP), is serving to aid our national security by stabilizing this potentially volatile region and making foreign markets a good place for American investment. It is less expensive to commit to this investment now than a potential military intervention later.
The USAID Biodiversity Program protects some of the largest and most at-risk natural landscapes by building capacity within local communities to strengthen governance and promote economic growth. The Multinational Species Conservation Funds administered by the USFWS have helped to protect some of the world's most endangered species such as Sumatran rhinoceroses, great apes, African elephants, Asian elephants, tigers, and sea turtles. The U.S. contribution to the Global Environment Facility leverages contributions from other donors and recipient countries to address some of the world's largest problems. And the U.S. Forest Service responds to natural disasters and humanitarian crises and halts illegal logging in threatened forests worldwide that serves as unfair competition to domestic timber producers.
In the FY12 budget, please help protect beneficial programs like the USAID Biodiversity Program, the USAID Sustainable Landscapes program, the USAID Adaptation program, the Multinational Species Conservation Funds at the USFWS, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s contribution to the World Bank Climate Investment Fund Pilot Program for Climate Resilience, the U.S. contribution to the Global Environment Facility, and the FSIP.
Thank you in advance for your support of these important programs.