VTB will donate $5M for Big Cats
VTB Bank intends to donate five million dollars to the WWF in the next five years for the project of conservation of endangered big cat species. The first donation of $1M has already been transferred to the Fund's accounts. It makes possible to start the Project despite withdrawal of the main sponsor.
Initially, it was expected that Global Environment Facility (GEF) would finance the major part of the Project prepared by the WWF and the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia, while VTB and other partners provide co-financing. However, GEF had to suspend financing projects in Russia due to recent shift in the political environment.
Total investment cost of the Project is 60 million dollars (co-invested by the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia, regional budgets, WWF, and other organizations). GEF's suspension of funding has already resulted in approximately $12M budget deficit; therefore WWF Russia has to seek for additional funding sources.
«The World Wide Fund for Nature invests 10 million dollars of its own funds into the Project. We commend VTB Bank for its participation in the Project investment despite the main sponsor's withdrawal. We hope other Russian sponsors will follow in the nearest future. This would be a good example of import substitution in nature conservation funding,» Igor Chestin, WWF Russia's director says.
«We believe that cooperation between VTB and the World Wide Fund for Nature in the field of conservation of large wild cat species will contribute considerably into biodiversity conservation at both regional and global levels, and will inspire other Russian corporations to take a more active part in conservation of Russia's unique nature», – Vasily Titov, First Deputy President and Chairman of the Management Board of VTB Bank says.
The Project will be implemented full-scale in accordance with originally approved Programme. It provides for conservation of the Amur tiger and leopard in the Russian Far East and Snow leopard in the Altai-Sayan, as well as reintroduction of the Persian leopard in the Caucasus.
The Project implies creating of new and supporting of existing protected areas in the Russian Far East, Altai-Sayan and the Caucasus, and improvement in land use planning and programmes of social and economic development in the regions of big cats’ habitat. It will also address anti-poaching measures, resolution of conflicts between humans and leopards, and improvement of the quality of life in these regions. Moreover, the Project will contribute to the Russian Federation’s active implementation of international agreements and cross-border conservation programmes for the big cat species.