Community-based Red Panda Conservation: Project Punde Kundo
To conserve red pandas and their habitat in the Eastern Himalayas
Project Punde Kundo (the name for red panda in the local dialect) is an integrated community-based conservation programme of a landscape species, red panda, and its habitat. By protecting red panda and its habitat, the Eastern Himalayan Broadleaf and Conifer ecoregion (one of WWF's global 200 ecoregions), the Red Panda Network is protecting all species in it. The overarching goal of Project Punde Kundo is to create sustainable landscape-level conservation of red panda and the ecoregion. For Project Punde Kundo, the Red Panda Network defines sustainable landscape-level conservation as the protection of red panda hotspots, locations of a viable red panda population of 80 to 100 individuals, for at least 20 years.
Project Punde Kundo focuses on utilising local ecological knowledge and conservation ethics to establish a community-based system of data collection, conservation education and stewardship. The intention of the Red Panda Network is to create a system that will be self-sustaining within 20 years. The heart of Project Punde Kundo is its "Conservation in Action" strategy, centred on a three-step iterative cycle. The first step is the creation of a community-based monitoring project. The second step is the creation of a forest conservation area managed by the local community or a community-conserved area. The third step is the creation of "Conservation in Action" contracts, in which communities define how they will sustain their protected areas in perpetuity. The model focuses on the active participation of local communities in every step of the process.
While building Project Punde Kundo for immediate impact with the support of its zoo partners, corporate and non-profit institutions, and individual members and donors, for the long term the Red Panda Network is in the process of creating a Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) Carbon Project. The REDD Carbon Project would provide a minimum of 20 years of funding for integrated conservation activities in the critical forest corridor where the Red Panda Network has been active since 2005. A community conservation trust will fund conservation activities in the corridor in perpetuity, ensuring long-term protection of a viable population of red panda in eastern Nepal.
WAZA Conservation Project 12006 is implemented by the Red Panda Network, with support currently provided by Rotterdam Zoo, San Diego Zoo, Auckland Zoo, Karlsruhe Zoo, Toronto Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo, Milwaukee Zoo, Woodland Park Zoo, Knoxville Zoo, Edmonton Valley Zoo, Greenville Zoo and Detroit AAZK. Previous support came from AAZK chapters in Cleveland, Kansas City, Nashville, San Diego, Sacramento and many others, AZA, Blank Park Zoo, Houston Zoo, Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park, Mozilla Firefox, Görlitz Animal Park, Cologne Zoo, Oakland Zoo, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong, Oklahoma City Zoo, SeaWorld/Bush Gardens, Sedgwick County Zoo, Sequoia Park Zoo Foundation, Vienna Zoo, WWF Germany, Global Green Grants, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and many others. Other stakeholders involved in the project include Community Forest User Groups and Village Development Committees in Taplejung and Ilam Districts, Eastern Nepal, Himali Conservation Forum and The Mountain Institute.
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