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Volume 113 Number 2 - Sunday, 11 November 2012
Summary of the Second Council meeting of the great apes Survival Partnership
6-8 November 2012

The Second Council Meeting of the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) met in Paris, France, from 6-8 November 2012. Over 150 participants gathered for the meeting, including partners from range States, non-range States, the scientific community, non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and UN agencies, as well as observers, including organizations that have begun the process to join GRASP.

During the meeting, participants discussed, formulated and revised the Global Strategy for Great Apes (the Global Strategy), the GRASP Priority Plan 2013-2016 (the Priority Plan), and the Rules for the Organization and Management of GRASP (the GRASP Rules). Participants also participated in three Great Ape Seminars on illegal trade, the green economy and technology. 

Over the course of the three days, deliberations focused on formulating the next steps for GRASP, identifying its priorities for the period 2013-2016 and updating its founding documents accordingly. Given the seven-year gap between the first and second Council meetings, many participants lamented that communication between the partners, the Secretariat and GRASP’s organs was too infrequent. However, upon conclusion of the deliberations, participants expressed a sense of optimism going forward, with the caveat that more progress should be made and more action taken before the next Council meeting in 2016.

This report summarizes the deliberations that took place during the three days of the Council meeting.


The four taxa of great apes - bonobo, chimpanzee, gorilla and orangutan – have long been recognized as being under continued threat. Found in the tropical forests of Africa and Asia, global numbers of both wild and captive populations have continued to decline, despite current conservation efforts, principally due to: deforestation; the bushmeat and wildlife trade; urban creep; demand for forest products and energy; mining; armed conflict; and disease. The protection and conservation of the great apes and their habitats are vital to ensuring their role in the environment, and securing the livelihoods associated with them.

GRASP was created in 2001 under the auspices of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to respond to this crisis and ameliorate the threat of imminent extinction. The Partnership aims to unite the many governments, international and national conservation organizations, the scientific community and others working to conserve great apes. Established as a World Summit on Sustainable Development Type II Partnership, GRASP provides a platform for partners come together, collaborate and exchange information, experiences and best practices, in order to secure the future of the great apes and their habitats.

The Partnership, which is managed by a secretariat, has a multidimensional structure. The GRASP Secretariat operates in consultation with the GRASP Council, the Executive Committee and the Scientific Commission. The Secretariat is based in Nairobi, Kenya, and is hosted jointly by UNEP and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

During the interim period before the first Council meeting was held in September 2005, an Interim Executive Committee was established, and was chaired by Uganda, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Indonesia representing the other great ape range States. An Interim Scientific Commission was also created to provide guidance to the GRASP Secretariat until the first GRASP Council meeting.

FIRST GRASP COUNCIL PREPARATORY MEETING: UNEP and UNESCO convened a preparatory experts’ meeting for the Intergovernmental Meeting on Great Apes (IGM) and the GRASP Partnership in Paris, from 26-28 November 2003. During the meeting, GRASP partners agreed on a draft global great ape conservation strategy, a draft 2003-2007 work plan and a draft set of rules to govern GRASP’s activities.  These documents were to be considered at the first IGM.

In May 2005, the European Commission announced the decision to award €2.4 million to GRASP for the “preservation of forest resources and improved livelihoods of forest peoples through conservation of great apes as flagship species,” thus ensuring sufficient funds to hold the first GRASP Council meeting.

FIRST IGM ON GREAT APES AND FIRST GRASP COUNCIL MEETING: The first IGM met from 5-6 September 2005, following which the first GRASP Council meeting convened on 7-8 September. The IGM then resumed its discussions with a High-Level Segment on 9 September. These meetings all took place in Kinshasa, DRC.

The IGM discussed the GRASP Rules, the Global Strategy, a work plan for 2003-2007, and a meeting declaration on great apes, the Kinshasa Declaration.

At its meeting, the Council considered reports on the intersessional period and elected the GRASP Executive Committee and the new GRASP Council Chair. It also adopted decisions on the 2003-2007 Work Plan, and on the GRASP Rules. The results of its deliberations on the Global Strategy were forwarded to the final plenary of the IGM for its consideration.

The IGM reconvened for a High-Level Segment, during which it heard statements by ministers and heads of delegation. It also approved the Global Strategy, which aims to lift the threat of imminent extinction facing most great ape populations, conserve their natural habitats, and ensure that interactions with humans are mutually positive and sustainable.

In addition, the IGM adopted the Kinshasa Declaration on Great Apes, which reaffirmed States’ commitment to ensuring GRASP’s success through, inter alia, urging all range States to become active partners and form strategic partnerships with the private sector. It also called for securing a constant and significant reduction in the loss of great ape populations and their habitats by 2010, and securing the future of the species and subspecies in the wild, by 2015.


The Second Council Meeting of the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) opened on Tuesday morning, 6 November 2012. Douglas Cress, GRASP Coordinator, welcomed participants, emphasizing the “partnership” aspect of GRASP and noting that its achievements are those of all the partners. 

Qunli Han, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), on behalf of Gretchen Kalonji, UNESCO, highlighted GRASP as a model framework for innovative cooperation within the international community. He recalled UNESCO’s work on Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage Sites, noting that these are often habitats for great apes, and said GRASP could benefit from these networks and expertise. He highlighted GRASP’s long-term strategy and identified great apes and the green economy among the main topics for discussion at this meeting.

In a video message, Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), lauded the participation of 21 of the 23 great apes range States, saying partnerships should be established with range States at their core. He underscored the need for the scientific community to realize that public policy is necessary, called on GRASP to be a touchstone for all stakeholders, and suggested that the outcomes of the meeting should be a roadmap for action in the future.

Jane Goodall, Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, in a video address, said growing human populations have led to increases in human-animal conflict. She underscored the need to find alternative livelihoods for hunters and charcoal makers, and emphasized engaging with communities that rely on forests, saying that forests should be valued by villagers as well as by big corporations. Goodall noted the need to change the way humans think about and value the great apes and their habitats, and urged exploring how to make great ape conservation a global initiative.


The Council then elected Jean-Patrick Le Duc, Director of International Relations at the French National Museum of Natural History as Chair of the meeting, and John Mshelbwala, Nigeria, as Vice-Chair. Delegates adopted the agenda (UNEP/UNESCO/GRASP/COUNCIL.2/1a, 1b) without amendment, and agreed to work in plenary, establishing contact groups as needed.


On Tuesday morning, Aggrey Watsiba, Uganda, presented the report of the Executive Committee, noting that it was established in 2005, with an interim Committee having operated from 2003-2005 to assist with establishing the Partnership. He outlined work undertaken by the Committee, including supporting GRASP Council meetings and ensuring the full engagement of each partner. He highlighted that the Executive Committee has looked at strengthening national support for conservation in range States. Watsiba further emphasized that national focal points are an important link for the GRASP Council to carry out its work, lamented the minimal feedback received from them, and urged strengthening communications in the future.


Johannes Refisch, GRASP Secretariat, presented the report of the Secretariat (UNEP/UNESCO/GRASP/COUNCIL.2/8) on Tuesday morning. He highlighted developments and activities since 2005, including: the institutional structure of the Partnership; the Global Strategy adopted at the first Council meeting in 2005; the global policy component and field activities of the European Commission-funded project that took place from 2005-2009; the publication of the World Atlas of Great Apes and studies on illegal trade in great apes; joint missions with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); the new GRASP website, mailing list and link with social networks, which have increased GRASP presence in the media; and the GRASP Strategic Review.


On Tuesday morning, Serge Wich, Chair, GRASP Scientific Commission, presented the Commission’s report, noting that data collection and sharing have improved since 2007, particularly with the launch of the A.P.E.S portal. He highlighted the endangered or critically endangered status of all great apes, citing poaching, habitat loss and diseases, as major threats to the great apes populations. He outlined priorities for the Commission’s work, including:  law enforcement; reduction in trade; frequent information on great apes’ conservation status; incorporation of great apes in certification programmes for extractive industries; and forest conservation.

During the ensuing discussion on the three reports presented, participants discussed the relationship between the CITES Animals Committee and the GRASP Scientific Commission, the role of the Scientific Commission in research and the need for greater communication between the GRASP Secretariat and GRASP partners going forward.


On Tuesday morning, Douglas Cress introduced the GRASP-Ian Redmond Conservation Award, which will grant US$5,000 each to two young conservationists in Africa and Asia every two years, starting in 2013. Ian Redmond, Chairman, Ape Alliance, stressed that the award is meant to empower individuals and motivate innovation in great apes conservation, and expressed the hope that others, particularly those in the private sector whose commercial interests in tropical forests range in the trillions of dollars, will contribute funds to increase the size of the award.

Mali thanked Ian Redmond for his support for chimpanzee conservation in Mali.


On Tuesday afternoon, Douglas Cress presented the GRASP Strategic Review (UNEP/UNESCO/GRASP/COUNCIL.2/4) that was completed in April 2012, noting that its purpose was to assess the success and impact of GRASP since its inception. He highlighted findings of the review, including that GRASP, as a UN-based partnership, has large potential to capture the attention of other organizations, governments and MEAs. He noted that GRASP should also: be the driving force in addressing why the conservation of great apes is not working; be an interface between science and policy, as well as a communicator that can advocate for change; and ensure there is a commitment and shared vision, which have previously been lacking. He noted that there was consensus that the Partnership has not lived up to expectations but that it is still worth persevering.

Cress said recommendations for the future included the need for GRASP’s work to focus on: forests, including improving its dialogue with the agro-industry; simplifying the structure of GRASP; and communication, information dissemination, and influencing and seeking new audiences not previously reached by GRASP. He also highlighted the need to perform on “a higher political plane” and lobby for better legislation and law enforcement.

In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed issues relating to the resources available to the GRASP Secretariat, the role of national focal points, better use of the tools available to GRASP, the exact  nature of GRASP and its organs, and the role of GRASP in bringing the great apes agenda into other processes and entities.


Douglas Cress presented the Global Strategy (UNEP/UNESCO/GRASP/COUNCIL.2/2) on Tuesday afternoon, clarifying that this document is an updated version of the 2005 Global Strategy adopted at the first GRASP Council meeting, and aims to reflect developments that have occurred since its adoption as well as current issues, rather than to rewrite the strategy.

In the ensuing discussion, participants welcomed the document and suggested, inter alia, that: the Secretariat should clarify the links between the document and the GRASP Priority Plan 2013-2016; the document should reflect the recommendations of the GRASP Strategic Review; the objectives of the Strategy should be measurable to allow monitoring and evaluation of progress; social aspects should be considered by the Scientific Commission in addition to biological ones; and reference to ape diseases should be included.

The Council considered again the revised draft Global Strategy on Thursday morning, 8 November, with a reading of the draft revised Global Strategy document, incorporating previous comments. Participants agreed on a number of editorial changes and the Secretariat agreed to submit further revised text later in the day.

On the overall goal of the Global Strategy, participants agreed that it should: be harmonized with the vision statement elaborated in the Priority Plan 2013-2016; refer to all wild populations of great apes rather than to “most” as in the currently proposed formulation; and be consistent between the overall goal and the specific objectives of GRASP.

On the specific objectives, participants agreed, inter alia, that: Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) terminology relating to indigenous peoples and local communities should be used throughout the document; “promoting the Global Strategy” should be a tool rather than an objective in itself; “threats” should be included under the objective to “determine and monitor distribution and abundance of great apes”; reference to agro-industries’ impacts on great apes should be included; reference to assessing impacts of agroforestry should be maintained as, although normally seen as benign land use, in other regions it can be detrimental to great ape populations, as was underscored by delegates from DRC and Cameroon; assessing the impacts of extractive reserves and applying mitigation measures in collaboration with development banks and other international financial institutions should be considered under two separate objectives as opposed to the current formulation of being under one single objective; reference to the Ramsar Convention, the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) should be included as relevant institutions; and text on the outcomes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, as they pertain to CITES and the great apes, should be included.

On Thursday afternoon, the Council concluded discussions on, and adopted, the revised Global Strategy for the Survival of Great Apes and Their Habitat, as amended. The Strategy outlines a number of objectives for GRASP, including: increasing the numbers of populations, total population size and habitat areas under long-term conservation management; encouraging range States to prepare, implement and evaluate great ape conservation action plans in consultation with relevant experts; promoting and encouraging the application and enforcement of national and international laws to improve the survival of great apes and their habitats; and promoting payment for ecosystem services (PES) plans that protect great ape habitats while providing economic incentives to indigenous and local communities, such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries, and the Role of Conservation, Sustainable Management of Forests and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks in Developing Countries (REDD+).


On Wednesday morning, 7 November, Douglas Cress introduced the GRASP Priority Plan 2013-2016 (UNEP/UNESCO/GRASP/COUNCIL.2/6), noting that it is a framework for the activities of the Partnership as a whole, to be facilitated by the GRASP Secretariat. He outlined the GRASP goals of addressing drivers of great ape habitat loss and great ape population decline, and creating a global dialogue on great ape conservation. He highlighted priority work areas for GRASP, including: communications and advocacy; law enforcement; conflict-sensitive conservation; and green economy, and outlined the expected achievements for each work area. Cress concluded by stressing the importance of operationalizing the Priority Plan as well as monitoring and reporting to measure the impact of GRASP.

In the ensuing discussion, Senegal asked for follow up of an earlier proposal from Sierra Leone to establish a world great ape day. The Last Great Ape Organisation (LAGA) suggested specifying target numbers for law enforcement and identifying the role GRASP could play in larger great ape trafficking matters. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) urged pursuing law enforcement activities.

World Conservation Society (WCS) stressed that communication and advocacy should be a tool and not an objective in itself, suggesting that GRASP should identify specific messages to communicate and policy processes it wants to influence, such as the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) programme, the World Heritage Convention, and CITES. Congo suggested including wildlife-specific training for veterinarians and collaborating with the World Organization for Animal Health. Equatorial Guinea asked if there were plans for training focal points. Mali suggested supporting universities and research organizations to support great apes research.

TRAFFIC suggested: using agreed UN terminology for bushmeat and indigenous peoples and local communities; specifying that “partners” for collaboration on trade studies should be organizations with proven capacity in this field; and better outreach to zoos and local communities. DRC requested practical actions by the Secretariat to address conflict-related wildlife trafficking. Uganda said GRASP should address the great ape conservation gaps and, with Equatorial Guinea, Mali and Indonesia, called for emphasizing human-animal conflict. He also queried the selection of focal points, stressing the need to ensure that they have the appropriate knowledge.

Flora and Fauna International suggested engaging with the private sector. The Scientific Commission said it had been consulted on, but not agreed to, the Priority Plan and lamented a lack of connection between the goals of GRASP and the activities of the Priority Plan. Noting that the document does not adequately address the operationalization of the plan, it cautioned against priority setting at this stage. The Secretariat emphasized that in rebuilding the Partnership, the Council needs to ensure that GRASP can be “all things to all people” and that more organizations and States are being encouraged to become partners. A contact group was established to revise the document based on the comments received from the Council.

On Thursday afternoon, the Council took up the matter of the GRASP Priority Plan 2013-2016, discussing a revised document produced by the contact group on Wednesday night. Cress drew the Council’s attention to the different sections of the document stressing that the priority working areas, including advocacy, law enforcement, conflict-sensitive conservation and green economy are all equally important. He outlined the steps for operationalizing the Plan, including a final review by the Council after the close of the meeting through electronic consultation.

In the following discussion, participants raised several points for improving the document, and discussed, inter alia: whether national parks or protected areas in general should be stressed in the document as key to great apes conservation; the need for more protected areas in all range States; the need to specify  the roles and responsibilities of each working area; the ranking of the priority working areas, with some participants favoring listing habitat protection first and others stressing instead law enforcement; and inclusion of the existing IUCN great apes species action plans in the Priority Plan.

The Council adopted the GRASP vision with its priority working areas. They further agreed to the Chair’s proposal that the Secretariat will circulate to all partners within three months of the Council meeting, a revised Priority Plan 2013-2016 based on the comments raised.


On Wednesday morning, 7 November, Douglas Cress introduced the draft revised Rules for Management of GRASP (UNEP/UNESCO/GRASP/COUNCIL.2/3), noting that the document has been revised from those adopted at the first GRASP Council meeting in 2005. He highlighted proposed changes to the revised rules, including: tasking GRASP with promoting PES such as REDD+ and other green economy ideals; strengthening and modifying partner categories to reflect current situations; changing the periodicity of Council meetings to every four years, and allowing for intersessional meetings if necessary; changing the composition of the Executive Committee to broaden representation; and adding Great Ape Ambassadors to the GRASP structure.

During the discussion, the Gorilla Organization called for clarifying procedures for non-range States to become partners with GRASP. The Scientific Commission noted that they are currently only an advisory body, and that the GRASP Rules would need to be amended if partners wished to strengthen the role of the Scientific Commission. WCS called for rationalizing the GRASP objectives so that they are consistent across all documents. He also questioned the difference between GRASP Ambassadors and GRASP Patrons and asked if the roles could possibly be combined. Wild Chimpanzee Foundation urged for ensuring that members of the Scientific Commission have scientific knowledge and stressed the importance of face-to-face meetings for achieving progress. Conservation International called for empowering the Scientific Commission and including a member of the Commission in the Executive Committee.

The Secretariat highlighted that non-range States were previously termed donor countries, but that this was changed to reflect that non-range States contribute more than just money to the Partnership.

On Thursday morning, the Council continued discussion of the draft revised Rules. The Secretariat noted the inclusion of text detailing that private sector partners are non-voting partners and that all great ape range States, which are automatically partners, are required to identify a national focal point to ensure “two-way communication.” The Secretariat noted that the frequency of Council meetings has been reduced from being held every two years to being held every four years, in order to allow progress to be assessed as well as to reduce the financial burden of holding these meetings. He also highlighted changes within the Executive Committee composition to include an additional member from the category of partners from intergovernmental organizations and MEAs. 

Some delegates questioned what would happen in the case of a range State not wishing to be a partner, as is the case with Malaysia. The Secretariat noted that they are still a partner, and said that in the case of Malaysia, GRASP is in negotiation with the federal government to allow Sarawak and Sabah states to be partners, as they are the states where orangutans are endemic.

Questioning whether private sector partners should have voting rights, the Secretariat noted that the Executive Committee was uneasy about allowing a partner to “change the room” based on potential monetary contributions. On queries as to whether the Council will be better served meeting every two years, the Chair, stressing that a balance needs to be found between implementation and meetings, noted that the Executive Committee and other organs will meet more frequently and work on a day-to-day basis and then report to the Council. Upon a request for clarification from Senegal, the Secretariat noted that range States can, should funds allow, vote for Council meetings to be moved forward if over a third of the range States wish to do so. The Secretariat also emphasized that regional meetings will be taking place on a more frequent basis. Nigeria, with WCS, called for ensuring that range states understand their responsibility in driving the GRASP process. WCS further emphasized the responsibility of the Executive Committee to communicate with focal points.  The Ape Alliance suggested that all partners should designate a focal point, and stipulate that the focal points are responsible for disseminating information.

The Orangutan Foundation queried ensuring that there is regional balance among NGOs. Others asked if a representative of the Scientific Commission should have a seat on the Executive Committee. The Secretariat noted that the Scientific Commission is an advisory body, and that should it have a seat on the Executive Committee, it would be a voting entity. He explained that this does not reconcile with its current function. The Chair proposed ensuring that the Scientific Commission has an observer seat within the Executive Committee, and delegates agreed to this proposal.

Bristol Zoo asked why the recommendation from the Strategic Review to discontinue the Council was not followed.  The Secretariat said that consultations had suggested that partners felt that there was value in the Council so the decision was taken to keep it.  UNEP suggested wording for the Executive Committee to represent and engage with partners in their particular participation category.

The Scientific Commission proposed, and delegates agreed, that text be included to ensure that they are: kept informed by the Secretariat of new initiatives, grant proposals and other significant documents; involved in the development of significant documents; and invited to serve as editors and/or reviewers of these documents. Born Free Foundation suggested that the language could be to “inform and seek the advice of” the Scientific Commission, where necessary. The Scientific Commission said that they wish to decide whether their advice is necessary or not. WCS suggested that the scientific rigor of proposals and documents be ensured and endorsed to the satisfaction of the Scientific Commission.  The Orangutan Foundation emphasized the importance of keeping the Secretariat, the Scientific Commission and the Executive Committee linked and informed for the purposes of transparency. Cress cautioned against the potential conflict of interest for members of the Scientific Commission and Executive Committee who are also receiving funds from GRASP, which was an issue raised by the Strategic Review. WCS suggested, and delegates agreed, to add to the functions of the Secretariat “to provide advice to the Executive Committee on nomination received for the Scientific Commission membership.”

On the GRASP Ambassadors and GRASP Patrons, Cress noted that their roles are now unified, and participants agreed to keep only the Ambassador category and specify that they can be recognized personalities both from within or outside the world of conservation.

Responding to a query about whether there was a detailed budget submitted by the Secretariat at this Council meeting, Cress responded that a budget will be produced in the next four to six weeks, and UNEP said the budget will be considered by the Executive Committee in 2013, as foreseen in the revised Rules.

On Thursday afternoon,the Council concluded discussions on and adopted the revised Rules of Management as amended.


On Wednesday morning, Russ Mittermeier, President of Conservation International and GRASP Patron, presented the work of the IUCN Primate Specialist Group in assessing great apes’ conservation status and increasing public awareness, and suggested actions for the second decade of GRASP. He identified large-scale agro-business as the biggest threat to great apes, in addition to overarching global climate change issues. He highlighted ecotourism, protected areas, and species-specific and habitat conservation funds as critical elements of successful great ape conservation efforts. Mittermeier stressed the opportunity offered by GRASP as a UN-based flagship species programme to target high-level interventions. He highlighted the need for increased access to funds, called for the inclusion of gibbons within GRASP, and recommended closer collaboration with zoos, the World Heritage Convention and the World Bank. Mittermeier also announced a commitment of US$5,000 to the GRASP-Ian Redmond Conservation Award.


The great apes seminars were held from Tuesday to Thursday, and included seminars on: great apes and illegal trade; great apes and the green economy; and great apes and technology.

Great Apes and Illegal trade: On Tuesday afternoon, Neil Maddison, Bristol Zoo Gardens, moderated the Great Apes and Illegal Trade seminar.

John Scanlon, Secretary-General, CITES, presented on the linkages between increased human population and consumption, technology development, and illegal trade in wildlife, stressing the involvement of organized crime in the illegal trade. He described CITES’ role in regulating international trade. He presented the estimated commercial value of illegal trade in wildlife as between US$8-10 billion or US$5-20 billion annually, with the illegal timber trade being valued at US$30-100 billion a year. He highlighted a spike in the illegal trade of elephant ivory and rhino horn, saying that although the same alarming trend is not observed for great apes, the illegal killing and trade currently taking place is a serious threat to the great apes populations, especially as habitats decline. In closing, he underscored the need for a coordinated and stronger response to illegal trade and mentioned the efforts of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), and the opportunity offered by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to support great apes conservation.

Ofir Drori, Director, LAGA, and Coordinator of the Central Africa Wildlife Law Enforcement Network, presented on trade in great apes and wildlife law enforcement. He said that the illegal trade in great apes is not rooted in poverty but rather in corruption and power, stressing that laws in range States are sufficient but are not regularly enforced. He noted that the illegal trade is highly organized and specialized, and that foreign nationals are often involved, stressing that some developed economies are also lagging behind in great ape law enforcement. He underscored that there are expectations for foreign bodies to consolidate, disseminate and advocate for information on illegal trade. Drori called for fighting corruption, using measurable indicators for tangible results in convictions and jail terms, and ensuring accountable institutions. He urged stakeholders to demand that known traffickers be arrested.

Roland Melisch, TRAFFIC, presented TRAFFIC’s activities related to: trade in orangutans and gibbons in South East Asia, including: trade studies in Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Viet Nam and Thailand, which show unrecorded trade in orangutans and weak law enforcement; and capacity building activities carried out in collaboration with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Melisch also presented regional and national achievements in Central Africa, namely the Central Africa wildlife trade enforcement action plan, the Central Africa bushmeat monitoring system, the DRC national bushmeat strategy action plan, and the new decree on bushmeat trade regulation and wild meat consumption awareness activities in Cameroon.

Douglas Cress presented on preliminary data collected for a forthcoming GRASP report on great apes and illegal trade, noting that the data collected was for the time period 2005-2011. He called for the data to contribute to a platform that will allow the continuous monitoring of the live ape trade. He noted that the survey aimed to determine arrival rates of confiscated animals during the intervening period and said that it was sent to all sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers in Africa and Asia, encompassing questions on convictions and forces driving illegal trade. Preliminary findings, Cress noted, show that 392 great apes arrived in African sanctuaries via confiscation while 184 great apes arrived in Asian rehabilitation centers through confiscations. He said that in Africa only 6% of traffickers were arrested, 5% were prosecuted and 3% were convicted, and in Sumatra, 1% of traffickers were arrested, 1% convicted, and 1% prosecuted. He noted that data for Borneo has not yet been analyzed.

In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed: diseases in confiscated animals which have been repatriated; the drivers for the increased demand for wildlife products; the impact of forest-related illegal trade on great apes; sanctuaries driving increased law enforcement; resources needed to implement ambitious plans to combat illegal trade; and whether the illegal trade in great apes is driven by poverty or by the gap between the poor and the rich, which facilitates corruption.

Great Apes AND Green Economy: On Wednesday afternoon, Neville Ash, UNEP, moderated the Great Apes and Green Economy seminar.

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Conservation International, discussed the elements of Costa Rican success in achieving economic and social growth while protecting and restoring the natural capital, stressing that solutions can and must be found at the national level. He identified Costa Rican institutional reform aimed at removing the “silo” structure of ministries as the first success element, whereby a single ministry is responsible for energy, mining, and natural resources policies. Rodríguez further identified the establishment of positive incentives for natural capital conservation and restoration, such as PES schemes for carbon, water and biodiversity started in 1996 in Costa Rica, as key for green growth, and stressed protected areas as a critical ingredient for achieving sustainable development.

Katia Karousakis, Environment Directorate, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), presented on green growth and its relation to biodiversity. She said green growth should foster economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide benefits to the current population. She also underscored the importance of using a multidisciplinary inter-governmental process to address these issues.  Providing an overview of a forthcoming OECD report on green growth and biodiversity, she said the publication will address the need for green growth to encompass biodiversity and suggest a tool box of possible instruments and framework for addressing green growth and biodiversity, which can assist in developing long-term goals and visions.

Michel Masozera, WCS, presented on the role of great apes tourism in the transition to the green economy in Rwanda. He underscored the interest of the Rwandan Government in the green economy and, noting Rwanda’s economic dependence on natural resources, stressed that tourism can provide off-farm alternative employment for the population. He discussed examples of ecotourism projects based on private-community, private-public, and private investments, noting that generated revenues are reinvested locally in nature conservation and infrastructure for local communities. He identified weak coordination among government agencies, low capacity for integrated cross-sectoral planning, limited resources to invest in green technology, and conflicting goals between conservation and tourism development as challenges for the transition to the green economy.

Johannes Refisch, GRASP Secretariat, presented on recent work on orangutans and the economics of sustainable forest management in Sumatra, noting the study assessed the benefits of conservation using a green economy approach in two pilot sites in Indonesia - Tripa swamp and the mountain forests of Batang Toru. He outlined that by using carbon prices through REDD+ to establish land-use values and opportunity costs, conserving areas with high below-ground biomass, such as Tripa swamp, is more profitable than using the land for oil palm plantations. This, he said, suggested that oil palm plantations should be moved to land that is, among others, degraded and has not previously been used for agricultural purposes, such as Batang Toru. He also noted that GRASP could, in the future, act as an intermediary between local actors, donor countries and international organizations to influence governments in granting concessions for logging and other uses.

Christophe Boesch, Founder and President, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, presented the A.P.E.S Portal, an interactive platform for accessing information on the great apes population status, conservation and threats, browsing great apes data archives, and reporting on great apes. He discussed the merit of new approaches to ape population status assessments such as using video cameras. Boesch reported that recent studies have shown direct links between ape survival probability and law enforcement, the presence of non-governmental organizations, research, and ecotourism, but stressed that a systematic evaluation of the effectiveness of ape conservation measures is urgently needed.

Great Apes AND Technology: On Thursday afternoon, Serge Wich,, spoke on the use and efficacy of drones in great ape conservation. He noted that surveys of orangutan populations using satellite technology have proven costly, which prompted the investigation into using drone technology. He said that the initial tests of prototype drones were successful, noting that improvements since then allow for more detailed data to be collected, which can be used for many applications, including assessing tree-level phenomena, human activities, orangutan activity, agriculture and wildlife. Wich stated that future developments could allow for drones to be “data mules” for camera traps and radio collars, and include applications for object recognition.

Lilian Pantea, Jane Goodall Institute, outlined recent efforts for data collection using local communities and mobile data. He noted that through data collection using smartphone applications, communities have been able to gather data on numerous issues, including owners of land, information on snares and traps, and chimpanzee activity. 

Johann Jenson, UNEP, presented on the opportunities offered by the internet for collective problem solving or “crowdsolving” - a term mirroring the “crowdsourcing” of information - and highlighted innovative examples of the use of the internet for green campaigning  such as LifeWeb and the GRASP Blog Competition.

Ian Cross,, presented on the Ape App v1.0, an IPhone and smartphone application to assist ape conservation by providing a mobile platform for exchange of information and public participation on ape conservation.

Adriana Klompus, GRASP Blog Competition Winner, presented a smartphone application for consumer awareness, participation and campaigning against oil palm production and its impact on great ape forest habitat loss.

Ian Redmond showed education awareness videos on great ape conservation: The Bike that helps Saves Gorillas,; vEcotourism, a virtual tour of great ape habitats,; and the trailer of The Last of the Great Apes film documentary,


On Thursday afternoon, 8 November, the Council elected the Executive Committee for 2013-2016 as follows:

  • category A partners (range States): Novianto Bambang (Indonesia), Dieudonné Ankara (Congo), Aggrey Rwetsiba (Uganda), and Mamadou Sidibé (Senegal);
  • category B partners (non-range States): Marianna Courouble (France) and another person to be determined;
  • category C partners (sponsoring agencies): Neville Ash (UNEP), and Noeline Raondry Rakotoarisoa (UNESCO);
  • category D partners (MEAs): Pia Jonsson (CITES) and another person to be determined; and
  • category E partners (NGOs): Elizabeth Macfie (WCS), and Ashley Leiman (Orangutan Foundation).


On Thursday evening, the report of the meeting was adopted with the proviso that amendments can be provided to the Secretariat, in writing, after the conclusion of the Council meeting.


Neville Ash congratulated the Council on progress made, lauding the Partnership for agreeing on a new focus and identifying priorities going forward. He said the Rules of Management, which were agreed on, are key to ensuring communication between the organs of GRASP, as they will strengthen the dialogue for a greater impact on great ape conservation. He reiterated UNEP’s commitment to the Partnership.

Gretchen Kalonji, UNESCO, stressed that the Council is critical for reevaluating and revising the Partnership. She applauded the focus on enhancing communication between the organs and the focus on the six priority areas.  Kalonji added that UNESCO can contribute by providing expertise and support for the required science, as well as through communication and information dissemination.

Douglas Cress noted that although the Partnership had “lain fallow” for seven years, the legacy of the first IGM in 2005 was still present and helped drive progress at this meeting. He noted commitments that had been made during the meeting, including the Ramsar Convention’s promise to produce a training manual for focal points, and the doubling of the prize money for the GRASP-Ian Redmond Conservation Award through contributions from the Born Free Foundation and Conservation International.

Chair Le Duc, thanking everyone for their energy and enthusiasm over the three days of the meeting, closed the meeting at 6.14pm.


UNFCCC COP 18 and COP/MOP 8: The 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 18) and the eight session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 8) will be held together with the meetings of other subsidiary bodies. dates: 26 November to 7 December 2012   location: Doha, Qatar   contact: UNFCCC Secretariat   phone: +49-228-815-1000 fax: +49-228-815-1999 www:

Forest Day 6: This event will seek to inform the UNFCCC’s global agenda and forest stakeholders on ways to move forward with the REDD+ agreements reached at COP 17 in Durban. date: 2 December 2012 location: Doha, Qatar www:

IPBES 1: The first plenary session of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) aims to agree on the remaining rules of procedures for the meetings of the platform, consider other rules of procedure for the platform, elect Bureau and Multidisciplinary Expert Panel members, and agree on the next steps by which the IPBES work programme can become operational. dates: 21-26 January 2013 location: Bonn, Germany contact: UNEP Secretariat phone: + 254-20-762-5135 www:

Thirteenth Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change: The 13th RRI Dialogue, sub-titled “Status of Tenure Reforms in West and Central Africa and Impacts of Large-Scale Land Acquisitions, Extractive and Infrastructure Sectors,” is being organized by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), the Commission des Forets d’Afrique Centrale (COMIFAC), the Cameroonian Ministry of Forest and Wildlife (MINFOF), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Participants will take stock of tenure reform in Central and West Africa since 2009, examining new pressures on forest lands from large scale land acquisitions, extractive industries, and infrastructure projects. dates: 23-25 January 2013 location: Yaounde, Cameroon contact: Boubacar Diarra phone: +223 76 45 55 45 www:

GC 27/GMEF: The 27th Session of UNEP Governing Council (GC)/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF) is scheduled to convene in February 2013. The Governing Council constitutes the annual ministerial-level global environmental forum in which participants gather to review important and emerging policy issues in the field of the environment. dates: 18-22 February 2013   location: Nairobi, Kenya   contact: Secretary, Governing Bodies, UNEP   phone: +254-207-623-431   fax: +254-207-623-929 www:

CITES COP 16: The 16th meeting of the CITES COP (COP 16) will convene in March 2013. The 40th anniversary of the Convention will be celebrated at the March 2013 event. dates: 3-14 March 2013   location: Bangkok, Thailand   contact: CITES Secretariat   phone: +41-22-917-81-39/40   fax: +41-22-797-34-17 www:

UNFF 10: The focus of the tenth session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF 10) is forests and economic development, and will include agenda items on: forest products and services; national forest programmes and other sectoral policies and strategies; reducing risks and impacts of disasters; and benefits of forests and trees to urban communities. dates: 8-19 April 2013   location: Istanbul, Turkey   contact: UNFF Secretariat   phone: +1-212-963-3401 fax: +1-917-367-3186 www:

Forum on Wetlands for Livelihoods: This Forum is co-organized by the UNESCO-Institute for Water Education (IHE) and Rwanda’s Environmental Management Authority to discuss current challenges and solutions to wetland management, and pave a way forward, both regionally and beyond. dates: 8-12 July 2013 location: Kigali, Rwanda contact: Ken Irvine, UNESCO-IHE www:


Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Intergovernmental Meeting on Great Apes
Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
Great Apes Survival Partnership
Multilateral Environmental Agreement
payment for ecosystem services
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries, and the Role of Conservation, Sustainable Management of Forests and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks in Developing Countries
United Nations Environment Programme
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