Razan Al Mubarak has written the foreword for the 2020 edition of the Illustrated Checklist of the Mammals of the World, the most complete, stand-alone summary of the current taxonomy and distribution of every currently recognized species of mammal.
With editors from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and Global Wildlife Conservation, this essential resource for conservationists adds over 1,000 species discovered by science since the last edition published 15 years ago
The new edition organizes and classifies mammals into 167 families totalling over 6,550 species. In addition to the updated scientific name of each species, each account includes common names in English, French, German and Spanish, and the IUCN Red List Conservation Category. Each species is accompanied by a scientific illustration in full color, adapted from the earlier volumes, along with a revised distribution map.
In the foreword, Ms. Al Mubarak writes:
“Biodiversity is a crucial indicator of the health of the planet – the only living planet known in the universe. Mammals, all these incredible species portrayed in this checklist, are major elements of Earth’s biodiversity, and dominant players in the maintenance of the landscapes we know and love—without them, these ecosystems change, they are simplified, they are destroyed, and too often with severe, damaging consequences for us.”
Razan Al Mubarak, Founding Managing Director of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, affirmed that biodiversity conservation must receive equal priority with climate change action during Dubai Climate and Biodiversity Week on October 21, 2020. Hosted by Expo 2020 Dubai, UAE’s platform for galvanizing global action, the event brought together over 40 established and emerging leaders to discuss solutions for a shared, sustainable future.
Ms. Al Mubarak spoke during “Nature’s Giant Game of Jenga,” part of the series of World Majlis held in the long-established Emirati and Arab tradition. The panelists discussed ways to address biodiversity loss and climate change with equal focus. She was joined by Paula J. Ehrlich, President and CEO of E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation (USA), Sir Tim Smit, Executive Vice-Chair and Co-Founder, Eden Project (UK), Nuno Sá, marine activist and cinematographer (Portugal), Joaquin Ruiz, Director, Biosphere 2, University of Arizona and others.
“If speaking is silver, then listening is gold,” Al Mubarak quoted the Arab proverb, citing the need to listen to local communities and support front-line conservation workers. “The narrative must become fundamental, not ornamental. Nature must have a seat at the table. We can’t solve the climate crisis without ensuring the conservation of biodiversity.”
Many grassroots conservation organizations are facing layoffs, cutbacks, and even the prospect of ceasing operations completely because of the twin crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and global recession.
In response to the crises, Razan Al Mubarak, the Founding Managing Director of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MBZ Fund), announced this week that the organization will expand its grant-making focus to include relief grants of up to $25,000. The grants can be used to cover core operating expenses, such as staff salaries, office rent, and other essential overhead costs.
"It's clear that conservation organizations cannot protect threatened species if they cannot meet basic needs like staff salaries and rent,” said Ms. Al Mubarak. “Our hope is that other foundations and philanthropists join the MBZ Fund in easing restrictions so conservation organizations can make it through this challenging time and weather the economic impact of the pandemic.”
Ms Al Mubarak said the Fund decided to expand its grant-making practices after conducting a survey in April 2020 of more than 300 of its grantees in 85 different countries. Aimed at gauging the effects of the pandemic on its grantees, the survey found that many conservationists were very concerned about the financial futures of their organizations. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said their organization had been negatively impacted, with 57 percent reporting their organization was experiencing financial difficulties and 22 percent reporting their organizations planned to eliminate jobs. Many grantees highlighted the loss of revenue for their organizations due to park, zoo, and aquarium closures, the decline in eco-tourism, and the reduction in student enrollment for courses and fieldwork experiences. A summary report of the survey can be viewed here.
The MBZ Fund is a philanthropic endowment providing micro-grants of up to $25,000 to support in-the-field conservation projects for the world's most threatened species. Since 2009, the Fund has provided over $20 million to more than 2,150 projects in over 160 countries, supporting more than 1,400 different species and subspecies. Many grantees have succeeded in rediscovering lost species, discovering new ones, and reducing threats to countless others.