The Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) seeks to address high-mountain development issues using the conservation of the charismatic and endangered snow leopard as a flagship.
This iconic and culturally treasured great cat is a good indicator species as it quickly reacts to habitat disturbance and its successful conservation requires sustainable longterm systemic solutions to the threats impacting the quality of habitats.
The GSLEP is a range-wide effort that unites range country governments, nongovernmental and inter-governmental organizations, local communities, and the private sector around a shared vision to conserve snow leopards and their valuable high-mountain ecosystems.
The snow leopard range countries and partners unanimously agree to the shared goal of the GSLEP for the 7 years through 2020. The snow leopard range countries agree, with support from interested organizations, to work together to identify and secure at least 20 snow leopard landscapes across the cat’s range by 2020 or, in shorthand – “Secure 20 by 2020.”
Secure snow leopard landscapes are defined as those that contain at least 100 breeding age snow leopards conserved with the involvement of local communities, support adequate and secure prey populations, and have functional connectivity to other snow leopard landscapes, some of which cross international boundaries.
“Secure 20 by 2020” will lay the foundation to reach the ultimate goal: ensuring that snow leopards remain the living icon of mountains of Asia for generations to come.
The foundation of the GSLEP is 12 individual National Snow Leopard and Ecosystems Priorities (NSLEPs). After a process of sharing knowledge and known good practices and developing a common vision, the NSLEPs were developed to incorporate a set of priority, concrete project activities to be implemented to meet national goals and, collectively, the overarching global goal.
The NSLEPs are buttressed by five Global Support Components prepared by international organizations to address issues to be addressed transcend national boundaries and go beyond the capacity of any one country to address alone. The GSCs aim to support and assist the range countries, as needed, is the areas of wildlife law enforcement; knowledge sharing; transboundary cooperation; engaging with industry; and research and monitoring.
The activities of the countries and the international community are grouped under broad themes that correspond to the commitments of the Bishkek Declaration adopted at the Global Snow Leopard Conservation Forum, that is:
- Engaging local communities in conservation, including promoting sustainable livelihoods, and addressing human-wildlife conflict;
- Managing habitats and prey based upon monitoring and evaluation of populations and range areas;
- Combating poaching and illegal trade;
- Transboundary management and enforcement;
- Engaging industry;
- Research and monitoring;
- Building capacity and enhancing conservation policies and institutions; and
- Building awareness.
The first five are direct impact activities; the last three are enabling ones to create conditions for successfully performing or improving the direct impact activities.
Together, the portfolio of national activities, supported by the GSCs that aim to help the range countries deal with common issues or those with which a single country cannot deal effectively, will move the countries toward their national and global goals.
The details of the GSCs’ activities and how they function requires further discussion and validation with the range countries to ensure their envisioned impact.