Close-up of very small sea turtle held in one hand and being measured with instrument in the other.
Measuring a hatchling loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta).
© Conservation International/photo by Pierre Carret

The ecosystem profile is an important, and unique, part of CEPF's strategy. Before we begin funding projects in a biodiversity hotspot, we conduct a year-long, participatory assessment.

  • What flora and fauna currently exist in the hotspot, and which are most vulnerable?
  • What areas of the hotspot are most important for the conservation of global biodiversity?
  • What are the threats facing the hotspot's biodiversity, and what are the reasons behind them?
  • What is the current economic situation of the region?
  • What conservation efforts are already being made in the hotspot, and where are there gaps?
  • How can CEPF make the biggest difference with its investment?

These are all questions that the ecosystem profile aims to answer.

How it works

To develop the the ecosystem profile, we award a specific grant to an organization, or several organizations working together, to conduct extensive research and create the profile. Anywhere between 100 and 500 of the hotspot's experts and stakeholders—botanists, zoologists, local organizations, local government officials and sustainable development specialists among them—are interviewed, consulted and brought together to discuss conservation in the region. With the information they provide, the ecosystem profile is developed. It gives a clear picture of the current state of the hotspot and the best way forward to protecting its vulnerable biodiversity while improving the livelihoods and well-being of local communities.

The ecosystem profile also outlines CEPF's investment strategy through what we call "strategic directions." We don't recommend specific project concepts; rather, we provide civil society groups with grants to develop these themselves. These projects, though, must meet at least one of the strategic directions set out in the profile. Through these strategic directions, we ensure that the limited CEPF funding is going to areas of the hotspot that need it most.

Conservation collaboration

An additional benefit of the ecosystem profile is that it is designed for use by other donors, government agencies, civil society organizations and private sector groups. For instance, other donors often use the profiles to decide how to invest because they know that each strategy has been agreed upon by many of the most important players on the ground, and because the process of building the strategy creates ownership of it among the participating stakeholders, enabling a better investment environment.

For example, in the Mediterranean Basin Biodiversity Hotspot, one of the biggest conservation funders in the region, the Swiss-based MAVA Foundation, began using the profile to guide its own investments of about €15 million a year, even before CEPF had begun its own investment in the hotspot.

The legacy of the ecosystem profiles, however, is more than just financial.

The data in the ecosystem profiles have been used by governments to inform their planning for the conservation of biodiversity. For instance, the ecosystem profile for the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot formed the basis for the Myanmar's Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.

Also in Indo-Burma, the 2011 update of the ecosystem profile brought CEPF together with other donor organizations active in the region to coordinate conservation action. The result was a shared situational analysis and overarching set of investment priorities that facilitated coordination among CEPF, the MacArthur Foundation, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation and the McKnight Foundation in regard to conservation and sustainable development actions led by civil society.

Ecosystem profiles are available for all hotspots where CEPF previously or currently invests. You can find them on each hotspot's page. Summary versions of the profiles are available for our more recent investments, often in additional languages. You may also find an ecosystem profile summary brochure available among the documents, too.