Protecting Nature's Hotspots for people and prosperity


Caribbean Islands


Everyone depends on Earth’s ecosystems and their life-sustaining benefits, such as clean air, fresh water and healthy soils. Founded in 2000, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) has become a global leader in enabling civil society to participate in and benefit from conserving some of the world’s most critical ecosystems. CEPF is a joint initiative of l'Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank. As one of the founding partners, Conservation International administers the global program through a CEPF Secretariat.

CEPF provides grants for nongovernmental and other private organizations to help protect biodiversity hotspots, Earth’s most biologically rich and threatened areas. The convergence of critical areas for conservation with millions of people who are impoverished and highly dependent on healthy ecosystems is more evident in the hotspots than anywhere else. CEPF is unique among funding mechanisms in that it focuses on biological areas rather than political boundaries and examines conservation threats on a landscape-scale basis. A fundamental purpose of CEPF is to ensure that civil society is engaged in efforts to conserve biodiversity in the hotspots, and to this end, CEPF provides civil society with an agile and flexible funding mechanism complementing funding currently available to government agencies.

CEPF promotes working alliances among community groups, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), government, academic institutions and the private sector, combining unique capacities and eliminating duplication of efforts for a comprehensive approach to conservation. CEPF targets trans-boundary cooperation for areas rich of biological value that straddle national borders or in areas where a regional approach may be more effective than a national approach.

A recent, updated analysis reveals the existence of 34 biodiversity hotspots, each holding at least 1,500 endemic plant species, and having lost at least 70 percent of its original habitat extent (Mittermeier et al. 2005). The Caribbean islands qualify as one of these global biodiversity hotspots by virtue of their high endemicity and high degree of threat.

The Caribbean Islands Hotspot is exceptionally important for global biodiversity conservation. The hotspot includes important ecosystems, from montane cloud forests to coral reefs, and supports populations of unique species amounting to at least 2 percent of the world’s total species.

The hotspot takes in the biologically and culturally diverse islands of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Lesser Antilles and the Netherlands Antilles. This represents a complex region of 12 independent nations and several British, Dutch, French and U.S. overseas territories (See Figure 1).

The Ecosystem Profile

The purpose of the ecosystem profile is to provide an overview of biodiversity values, conservation targets or “outcomes,” and causes of biodiversity loss coupled with an assessment of existing and planned conservation activities in the hotspot and other relevant information. This information is then used to identify the niche where CEPF investment can provide the greatest incremental value for conservation. Consultations with diverse governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders are an integral part of the process, with the aim of creating a shared strategy from the outset. A CEPF investment strategy is an integral part of each ecosystem profile. The ecosystem profile is also designed to enable other donors and programs to effectively target their efforts and thus complement CEPF investments.

Once the profile is approved by the CEPF Donor Council and a regional implementation team has been appointed, civil society organizations can propose projects and actions that fall within the identified strategic directions. The ecosystem profile does not define the specific activities that prospective implementers may propose, but outlines the strategy and investment priorities that will guide those activities. Applicants for CEPF funding are required to prepare proposals for the proposed activities and the performance indicators that will be used to monitor project success.

Figure 1. Map of the Caribbean Islands Hotspot

Map of Caribbean Islands Hotspot
Document: The Caribbean Islands Ecosystem Profile, January 2010
English (PDF - 1.63 MB) / Français (PDF - 2.6 MB)