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Strong new partnership between The Nature Conservancy and ARC

December 11, 2014:

HRH Prince Philip talks to TNC's Peter Wheeler, with Pierre van Hedel of Rabobank Foundation and ARC"s Susie Weldon. Photo: ARC/Katia Marsh

ARC has agreed an important partnership with the Nature Conservancy, the world's largest conservation NGO. The partnership was announced at a lunch hosted by HRH Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace on December 4, and it was a key part of the discussions at a meeting hosted by the Bishop of London the previous day.

The Nature Conservancy and ARC will work together to forge new relationships with key faith communities engaged in conservation. These relationships will be based on mutual benefit and trust.

"Such partnerships are essential to the Conservancy achieving our mission to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends for current and future generations," said project leader Dr Elizabeth McLeod.

"As a climate scientist, it is easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom of projections," she said. "Working in Asia Pacific, I have seen first-hand the impacts of climate change on tropical island communities. What I have learned is that despite the significant challenges faced, people are remarkably resilient. And for many, what drives their resilience is their faith."

Peter Wheeler, VP at TNC, was at the Palace to represent the Conservancy at this important event, while Dr McLeod attended the Bishop of London's meeting.

Bishop of London Rt Rev Richard Chartres discusses religions and wildlife, next to TNC's Dr Elizabeth McLeod. Photo: ARC/Katia Marsh
"We're absolutely delighted to be working with The Nature Conservancy," said ARC's Martin Palmer.

"They are one of the most important non governmental groups protecting nature. Already our collaboration has helped many people in TNC and outside it appreciate that TNC staff are already working successfully with religious groups. And we hope to help others to realise that religions really are natural allies in the journey so many of us are making to protect the natural world."

An example from the Solomons

TNC is recruiting members of the Christian Mother's Union to help preserve the island's marine life PHOTO TNC
One example of existing TNC work with faiths is in the Solomon Islands.

Despite a matrilineal system in some provinces in the Solomons, women in the region traditionally have not been equal partners with men in making conservation planning decisions.

However under leadership of, Moira Dasipio, President of the Isabel Diocese of the Mothers Union, a Christian organisation, as well as TNC's Solomon Islands director, Willie Atu, Mother’s Union staff have now spoken to over 3,000 community members about how important it is to conserve land and marine resources.

And this has led to a ground-swell of interest in community-based conservation, with women having a voice in conservation planning decisions, often for the first time.

TNC is working with local communities in the Solomon Islands to protect the reefs. Photo: TNC
"When I met her, Moira explained that Isabel Province has a tribal system, where the church, provincial leadership, and chiefs work together. She said that to achieve conservation goals in the islands, it is necessary to partner with all three of these pillars of authority, not just the provincial leadership and chiefs" Dr McLeod said.

She said that she hoped the success of this venture would encourage other colleagues to look to the local faiths as partners, and part of the new ARC partnership includes writing a guide to support their efforts to do so .

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