From the huge Dalmatian Pelican in the Balkans, to vulnerable trees in the Middle East and nesting turtles in North Africa, the wildlife in developing countries in the Mediterranean Basin has been given a renewed hope of preservation, restoration and protection through a second phase of investment by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), which will be managed by BirdLife International for another five years.

The protection of threatened Mediterranean plants will be one particular focus of the new investment © CEPF Med
The protection of threatened Mediterranean plants will be one particular focus of the new investment © CEPF Med
By Liz Smith

The Mediterranean Basin is the second largest “biodiversity hotspot” in the world, supporting 10% of the world’s plants (about 25,000 species), almost 300 mammal species (38 terrestrial endemics), 534 bird species (63 endemic species), 622 freshwater fish species, and 308 reptile species (almost 40% being endemic). Yet rapid economic development, an increasing human population, and 32% of the world’s international tourists are creating unprecedented pressures on its freshwater, marine and terrestrial habitats in the Mediterranean – compounded by a lack of effective planning and management systems.

These factors led CEPF to invest in the hotspot from 2012 (one of 35 biodiversity rich, yet threatened hotspots around the world). Over five years CEPF awarded 108 grants, funding 84 different organisations (90% of which were local within the Mediterranean) within twelve countries. During this time many civil society organisations were strengthened to carry out conservation work in Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), national projects and transboundary initiatives, creating lasting impacts and best practice projects.

In total, over US$11 million was invested for making a positive difference in the Mediterranean, including establishing new Protected Areas, creating new environmental laws, benefiting local communities, forming new conservation networks, and safeguarding habitats for threatened species.

The Mediterranean however is under continued threat from multiple environmental and socio-economic pressures, and so further support is needed. To answer this need and build upon the accomplishments of CEPF grantees, CEPF has decided to reinvest US$10million in the hotspot, continuing the essential platform for civil society to work on nature conservation.

New Calls for Proposals will be announced via our CEPF Med newsletter (subscribe below), Facebook and Twitter accounts, and BirdLife channels, so stay connected to hear the latest news.

The Moroccan Atlas is one focus area for projects to improve the management of "traditional landscapes". © Borut Rubinic
The Moroccan Atlas is one focus area for projects to improve the management of “traditional landscapes”. © Borut Rubinic

More information:

A new investment strategy for the region

To help build on previous successes and strengthen the conservation community working in the habitats and themes from the first investment, CEPF will be continuing to fund efforts in coastal areas and river basins. In addition to this, new areas of focus highlighted in the Ecosystem Profiling process (see below) have been incorporated in to the new CEPF Investment Strategy for the Mediterranean Basin.

The second phase of CEPF investment will therefore be focused on five key areas: three priority ecosystems (coastal, freshwater and traditionally-managed landscapes), a key species group (plants), and building the capacity of organisations on the regional scale.

Funded projects need to have biodiversity conservation as their principle goal. CEPF will invest primarily in site-based conservation action, with special attention to projects that can also ensure sustainability through building the capacity of local civil society organisations.

CEPF supports conservation actions in developing countries. The eligibility of certain countries and KBAs will be clearly stipulated in each future Call for Proposals. Applicants for CEPF funding are encouraged to review the Investment Strategy to ensure their project proposals are in line with CEPF’s vision. This and more detailed information can be accessed in these documents:

·         Ecosystem Profile English (PDF – 31 MB)

·         Ecosystem Profile Technical Summary English  (PDF – 2.1 MB) / French (PDF – 5 MB) / Arabic (PDF – 2.7 MB)


The current state of the Mediterranean Basin: the Ecosystem Profile

CEPF bases its investment strategies for each biodiversity hotspot on an Ecosystem Profile. This is an extensive document describing the conservation status of the region, covering socio-economic issues, threats to biodiversity and all the existing data on flora and fauna.

CEPF’s first investment in the Mediterranean was built upon an Ecosystem Profile compiled in 2010. A lot can change in a few years, including many political changes in this diverse region (e.g. the Arab Spring), but also the availability of new species and site information (such as the discovery of olm, a cave salamander, in Montenegro—through a CEPF project).  Therefore after five years of CEPF investment it was deemed essential to update the Ecosystem Profile, to ensure the new phase of funding would be directed to the themes and areas which need it most.

A consortium of organisations led by BirdLife International (see below) and the IUCN again put Mediterranean Basin conservation under the spotlight. Over 500 people representing local governments, communities, businesses and civil society organisations in the Mediterranean hotspot contributed to the profiling process through a series of meetings, workshops and on-line consultation. Through their combined expertise an extensive update of species data was achieved and the boundaries for KBAs revised, as well as a thorough analysis of socio-economic factors and civil society involvement in conservation was undertaken.

The core of the Ecosystem Profile is the definition of “conservation outcomes”, referring to an entire set of conservation targets in a hotspot to be achieved in order to prevent biodiversity loss. To this end, they are defined at three scales, representing: (i) the globally threatened species within the region; (ii) the sites that sustain them (i.e. KBAs); and (iii) the corridors necessary to maintain the ecological and evolutionary processes upon which those sites depend. The CEPF funding niche and strategy is based on these outcomes, and defines the priorities for funding by CEPF over the next five years.

The Ecosystem Profile update process was led by BirdLife International and a consortium of partners: IUCN, Tour du Valat, Conservatoire du Littoral, and three BirdLife Partners from Mediterranean-based organisations  –  Sociedad Española de Ornitología (SEO, BirdLife Spain), Društvo za opazovanje in proučevanje ptic slovenije (DOPPS, BirdLife Slovenia) and Association Les Amis des Oiseaux (AAO, BirdLife Tunisia). The update was made possible through the support of the MAVA Foundation, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and CEPF.


The Regional Implementation Team

BirdLife International, in partnership with national Partners LPO (BirdLife France) and DOPPS (BirdLife Slovenia), is pleased to announce that it will be continuing to lead the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) in the Mediterranean Basin Hotspot. Over the past 5 years the RIT has guided CEPF funding to the most important areas and to even the smallest of organisations, helped build civil society in the region, and shared learned lessons and best practices.

The achievements of CEPF grantees and their project partners were tremendous in the first investment phase. Alongside direct conservation impacts, major partnerships were also built through the Advisory Committee and collaborations with other key initiatives in the first phase were pivotal in magnifying project impacts.

BirdLife would like to thank all individuals and organisations who have lent their expertise and advice to the development of the first portfolio or projects, as well as the dedication to the CEPF grantees.

The RIT intends to build upon these conservation successes and lessons learned, and will continue to build networks and expand the community throughout the second phase of CEPF investment.

If you have any questions about any of the above please email We will announce new Calls for Proposals via our newsletter, Facebook and Twitter, so stay connected to hear the latest news.

The Mediterranean Regional Implementation Team, includingProgramme Officers for North Africa, the Balkans, Cape Verde and the Middle East © CEPF
The Mediterranean Regional Implementation Team, includingProgramme Officers for North Africa, the Balkans, Cape Verde and the Middle East © CEPF