Rome, October 12 - The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said a €45 million multi-partner programme has been launched to help African, Caribbean and Pacific countries halt unsustainable wildlife hunting. The project also aims to help the nations conserve their natural heritage, including their biodiversity, and strengthen people's livelihoods and food security. "Wildlife has ecological, social and economic value. It is important for rural development, land-use planning, food supply, tourism, scientific research and cultural heritage," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. "This programme will protect wildlife species, conserve biodiversity, and maintain the essential ecological roles of wildlife. "It will also help to secure the stocks and ecosystems services that are essential to the livelihoods of the poorest communities on the planet". Funded by the European Commission, the seven-year programme is an initiative of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). Led by FAO, it will also rely on the expertise of the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The programme will contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of wildlife in forests, savannas and wetlands by regulating wildlife hunting, strengthening the management capacities of indigenous and rural communities and increasing the supply of sustainably produced meat products and farmed fish. This will help to avert a looming protein deficit for poor rural families and meet the growing rural and urban demand for food, the Rome-based UN agency said. Participating countries in the project include Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guyana, Madagascar, Mali, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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