Conservation Groups Join Forces with Companies to Create New Jaguar Friendly™ Ecolabel Protecting Jaguars in Three Countries
First-of-its-kind Certified Jaguar Friendly™ label will empower farmers and ranchers, consumers and businesses to protect the largest wild cat in the Western Hemisphere
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bogotá, Colombia, Heredia, Costa Rica – MAY 04 2016 The Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network (WFEN) and Proyecto de conservación de Aguas y Tierras (ProCAT Colombia)-Colombia and Sierra to Sea Institute (S2S) – Costa Rica, announce a new collaborative effort to harness market forces for big cat conservation called Jaguar Friendly™. Farmers, ranchers and agricultural producers in these three important jaguar range countries will put in place Jaguar Friendly™ farming practices that maintain forest canopy to protect these iconic cats in rural agricultural landscapes and enable connectivity between protected areas. Through this initiative, companies that source products grown on land actively used by jaguars will be able to give consumers the choice to support conservation efforts by choosing Jaguar Friendly™ products including beef, cattle, coffee, sugar cane, pineapple, honey, fruit crops, flowers and tourism.
“We are really excited about the Jaguar Friendly™ initiative” said WFEN Director Julie Stein, “because it will allow us to test the idea of using certification, incentives, and market forces to ensure safe passage for these cats as they leave protected areas and move across agricultural lands, where they sometimes come into conflict with people or livestock. Global consumers are increasingly aware that wildlife, especially large carnivores, are often the invisible collateral damage of our food production systems.
Jaguar Friendly™ will give them a way to vote for coexistence with their wallets.”
“In Colombia the conflict between wildlife-and local farmers is increasing due to loss of habitat from deforestation and agricultural development, explains Diego Zárrate Charry, Research Coordinator of ProCAT Colombia. “Historically, local people have seen jaguars as their enemy. By involving local people in the design of the Jaguar Friendly™ initiative and working closely with coffee producers in jaguar habitat, we are seeing a growing appreciation by farmers of the value of wild jaguars and recognition of the important role they play on the landscape.”
Dr. José F. González-Maya, the Scientific Director for ProCAT Colombia and The Sierra to Sea Institute,Costa Rica, has been advocating for this change as well. “By promoting ‘predator-friendly’ agricultural practices, the Jaguar Friendly™ initiative provides incentives for farmers making jaguars an asset rather than a threat,” said Dr. González-Maya.
“We live in a world where humans are part of the economy of nature, whether we like it or not. Our ultimate vision is to create an economy that supports nature rather than working against it,” said Dr. Jan Schipper, Postdoctoral fellow for Arizona State University and the Arizona Centre for Nature Conservation/Phoenix Zoo and cofounder of Sierra To Sea Institute, Costa Rica. “If we succeed, we will have a healthier planet. We must empower local people who hold the future of these native animals in their hands to celebrate them and see them as a sign of successful land restoration. The Jaguar Friendly™ initiative will be a catalyst to include biodiversity in the sustainability movement.”
While Jaguars still exist in 18 countries from Mexico to Argentina, they have been eradicated from 40% of their historic range and are extinct in Uruguay and El Salvador. A jaguar was recently documented on video in the U.S. Yet, there has not been evidence of a U.S. breeding population for more than 50 years. Top threats to the jaguar include deforestation, habitat fragmentation and persecution by humans.
About ProCAT-Colombia and Sierra to Sea Costa Rica
ProCAT Colombia and Sierra to Sea Costa Rica are sister NGOs that work to develop biological research and to promote social and cultural sustainable development goals using and interdisciplinary approach including the human and natural dimensions of wild felid conflicts. This integrated conservation strategy to protect key species and vulnerable ecosystems in Talamanca, Costa Rica, and the Andes and Caribbean regions of Colombia works to ensure the wellbeing of biodiversity and humans in functional landscapes with shared benefits.www.procat-conservation.org
About Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network
WFEN and its Certified Wildlife Friendly®, Predator Friendly®, Certified Gorilla Friendly™, and Jaguar Friendly™ certification programs represent grassroots farmers, ranchers, artisans, indigenous communities and conservation heroes from around the world including two World Bank Development Marketplace Award winners, a U.N. Equator Prize winner, leadership in the world’s marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets, a Time Hero for the Planet, and a National Geographic Big Cats Initiative grantee. Certified Wildlife Friendly® products contribute to the conservation of over twelve million hectares of diverse wetlands, forests, and grasslands; protect keystone endangered species in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, including the Snow Leopard, Elephant, Cheetah, and Wolf; and benefit over 200,000 people through increased food security, income and employment. For more information visit: www.wildlifefriendly.org
Julie Stein, Executive Director
Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network