We are pleased to work with UNESCO and the Rapid Response Facility to help protect the giant pandas and restore some of the world's most treasured places that were impacted by the recent quake
Washington, D.C. (Vocus) June 3, 2008
The United Nations Foundation (UN Foundation) today announced an emergency fundraising appeal to support the recovery effort for UNESCO World Heritage sites and surrounding communities impacted by the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that shook China's southwestern Sichuan province on May 12, 2008. Gifts to the Friends of World Heritage Fund (http://www.FriendsofWorldHeritage.org) will be matched by Expedia, Inc. and the United Nations Foundation turning $1 into $3 (up to the first $50,000 per partner per year). During the China Emergency Appeal, 100% of funds raised will go directly to these affected communities.
Sichuan and Wenchuan provinces, those most impacted by the earthquake, are home to several World Heritage sites, including two severely affected by the quake: Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, home to 30% of the world's remaining endangered giant pandas, and Mount Qingcheng and the Dujiangyan Irrigation System (located only 50 km from the epicenter).
The Wolong Nature Reserve, part of the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, was among the hardest hit. While it appears that most of the reserve's 60 pandas are safe and accounted for - thanks in large part to heroic efforts by reserve staff - there are still two pandas missing and many others were injured. Tragically, four field staff at the reserve were also killed. And reports from the local forestry commission state that all of the Wolong Reserve's 32 panda houses were destroyed or damaged. These houses are important for breeding and eventual reintroduction of pandas to the wild - a critical conservation tool since it is estimated that there are fewer than 1600 giant pandas left in the wild.
"We are pleased to work with UNESCO and the Rapid Response Facility to help protect the giant pandas and restore some of the world's most treasured places that were impacted by the recent quake," said Erika Harms, executive director of sustainable development, UN Foundation. "Many local communities rely on the jobs and tourism related to these sites and it is important to preserve these sites for locals and visitors to experience and enjoy."
Daily operations have basically come to a halt in the impacted World Heritage sites due to substantial damage to management offices, ranger stations, staff housing, and other infrastructure. Some sites are completely cut off, as the roads that lead to them remain impassable. Donations received between today and June 27, 2008 will go towards rebuilding infrastructure and supplying equipment such as GPS units, sleeping bags, field cookers, emergency spotlights, communications equipment, and computers which will help field staff do rapid assessments of impact on wildlife, and allow the World Heritage sites to begin the slow process of restoration and recovery.
To learn more about the impact on these sites, visit http://www.FriendsofWorldHeritage.org.
Since its creation in 1999, Friends of World Heritage with founding partners- UNESCO, the UN Foundation, and Expedia, Inc. (NASDAQ: EXPE) - and other partners, have supported sustainable development projects in and around World Heritage sites.
About Friends of World Heritage
Friends of World Heritage is a grassroots initiative dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of protecting World Heritage, promoting sustainable development, offering ways to explore these sites through sustainable travel, and raising funds to support projects in communities that depend on World Heritage sites. Friends of World Heritage was created by the United Nations Foundation and its partners are: Expedia, Inc. (NASDAQ: EXPE) and UNESCO's World Heritage Centre. For more, visit http://www.FriendsofWorldHeritage.org.
About World Heritage
World Heritage sites are places around the world that have been internationally recognized for their outstanding value as natural and cultural treasures. All World Heritage sites are protected by the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention, signed to date by 185 countries and administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). There are currently 851 World Heritage sites (660 cultural, 166 natural and 25 mixed properties). For a complete list of sites, visit http://whc.unesco.org/.
About the United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation is an advocate for the UN and a platform for connecting people, ideas, and capital to help the United Nations solve global problems. We build partnerships, grow constituencies, mobilize resources and advocate policy changes to support the UN's work for individual and global progress. The UN Foundation's work - focused on select global problems - is decreasing child mortality, improving disaster relief, protecting diverse cultures and environments, creating a clean energy future, empowering women and girls, and improving U.S.-UN relations. For more information, visit http://www.UNFoundation.org.
United Nations Foundation
(o) 202-419-3230, (e) adielsi @ unfoundation.org