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£35m UK aid to help tackle deforestation and wildlife extinction

Embargoed to 0001 Thursday March 22 File photo dated 20/10/15 of a general view of the countryside, as peers have warned that cuts to resources for Government departments and agencies looking after the countryside have hit wildlife and rural communities. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday March 22, 2018. A Lords committee said Natural England, whose job is to protect and enhance the natural environment, had lost its independence and influence, and has insufficient resources to look after the environment. See PA story ENVIRONMENT Countryside. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

The UK has pledged £35 million aid to help tackle the illegal wildlife trade, deforestation and the extinction of endangered species, the Government said.

Around £33.5 million of the funding will support new, sustainable industry which protects the environment and provides jobs to local communities.

It will help protect critical forest habitats and species threatened by extinction, including the chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan and tiger.

Loss of tropical forests is being driven by the cultivation of crops such as palm oil, soya, cocoa and coffee, which account for more than 70% of deforestation in developing countries, the Department for International Development (DfID) said.

These crops provide jobs and livelihoods in poor rural areas but forest clearance is often illegal and leads to the destruction of precious habitats for critically endangered wildlife species.

The aid will help projects including increasing sustainable cocoa production in Ghana, benefiting up to 150,000 people and protecting the 31,000-hectare Bia National Park.

In Ethiopia it will help to develop sustainably produced wild forest coffee, which could double the incomes for up to 23,000 farmers.

The announcement comes after a global meeting on the issue of the world's wildlife in London this week.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: "Around the world 1.2 billion people rely on forests and natural habitats for their livelihoods.

"For the thousands of such communities which benefit from industries like tourism, protecting the natural environment is a crucial development issue.
"UK aid-backed projects happening right now across the world, such as those we can announce today, are leading the global fight to protect the natural environment that we all love so much.

"We owe it to future generations to work together to end wildlife crime, to protect essential forest habitats and to bring the world's poorest communities out of poverty."

A separate £2.5 million help target the illegal trade of wildlife products destined for Asia, fuelled by demand for illegally trafficked animal products such as pangolin scales, furs and ivory.

It will include a project to crack down on wildlife traffickers in the Congo Basin.