Global survey reveals how conservation activities have been disrupted by pandemic

As reported by Lonely Planet, World Atlas and Gulf News, the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns have severely disrupted species conservation activities worldwide according to a survey of more than 300 conservationists in 85 countries. The survey was conducted by The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, (MBZ Conservation Fund) where Razan Al Mubarak serves as founding managing director. 

The survey found the pandemic had affected the ability of 83 percent of conservationists to conduct critical fieldwork, while 70 percent said planned conservation activities had been canceled or postponed. 

“With an estimated 10,000 species being lost to extinction per year, a rate that is 1,000 times faster than at any other time in history, conservation work in the field is the critical first line of defense against extinction,” said Ms. Al Mubarak, founding managing director of the MBZ Conservation Fund. “By confirming that efforts to prevent biodiversity loss have been significantly harmed during the pandemic, the survey makes clear that the conservation community must come together to urge for a ‘nature recovery plan’ where conservation initiatives are given the necessary financial stimulus to not just recover but thrive in the long term.” 

The survey also found that 

  • Forty percent of conservationists found the pandemic negatively affected their job or career, with 22 percent reporting their organizations planned to eliminate jobs.
  • Sixty-eight percent of respondents said their organization had been negatively impacted, with 57 percent reporting their organization is experiencing financial difficulties. 
  • Many conservationists highlighted the loss of revenue for their organizations due to closures of parks, zoos, and aquariums, the decline in eco-tourism, and the reduction in student enrollment for courses and fieldwork experiences.
  • Many respondents were concerned that the pandemic would increase threats to the species and habitats, including increased poaching due to reduced presence of law enforcement and tourists and greater reliance on hunting by local communities due to the economic impact on livelihoods. 

Download a copy of the survey report by the MBZ Conservation Fund.

With help from MBZ Fund, rare mountain flower blossoms for first time in Spanish nursery

A literal seed of hope has blossomed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MBZ Conservation Fund), where Razan Al Mubarak serves as the founding managing director, and the Botanical Garden of the University of Valencia in Spain. 

As reported by World Atlas, a global news site with a focus on environment and science, the rare Gador Snapdragon has bloomed in a nursery for the first time ever - a miraculous step toward long-term survival for a critically endangered species with just five plants left in the wild. 

The delicate bud emerged in the midst of the pandemic lockdown, as part of a project led by Dr. Jaime Güemes, director of the Botanical Garden of the University of Valencia, and with support of a critical grant from the MBZ Conservation Fund. 

“This has been a difficult time for all of us, especially our grant recipients, many of whom were suffering from the economic and physical effects of the pandemic, said Razan Al Mubarak, founding director of the MBZ Conservation Fund. “When we received the email from Dr. Jaime Guemes with the news and the photo of the flowering plant, it was deeply heartening — a silver lining to an otherwise dark cloud. It reinvigorated our hope.” 

The MBZ Conservation Fund operates on the principle that small actions can make a big difference. The organization provides microgrants to people working directly with endangered species in the field, and has supported more than 2,100 projects in over 160 countries, helping to reduce the threats to species, many of which are on the brink of extinction.

It learned of the new flower when it surveyed its grantees about the impact of the pandemic on their projects. Three-hundred conservationists in more than 80 countries responded, and while much of the news was bleak — 85% have had to suspend their conservation work — that single golden blossom represents a ray of hope that critical conservation must continue.

Read more about the Gador Snapdragon project at World Atlas.