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Great Apes Emphasize Importance of Biosphere Reserves

Chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans are essential to the visibility and viability of many biosphere reserves across Africa and Asia, according to an infographic release today by the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) and UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme.

Great apes are found in 21 Biosphere Reserve in 15 countries, including Mountain gorillas in in the Volcans Biosphere Reserve in Rwanda, chimpanzees in the Haut Niger Biosphere Reserve in Guinea, and Sumatran orangutans in the Gunung Leuser Biosphere Reserve in Indonesia.

'Great apes are part of our heritage, and they are very important indicators toward the success of forest conservation ,' said Han Qunli, director of the UNESCO MAB programme. 'Great apes and their protection are one of  perfect examples of what biosphere reserves have been doing for over 40 years -- connecting flagship species conservation with people, connecting nature, education and science and local communities  and helping create a positive future. Biosphere reserves provide this ideal place and approach that turns ape conservation into opportunities that benefit local communities.'

In April, GRASP and UNESCO also released an infographic highlighting the importance of great apes in World Heritage Sites in Africa and Asia.

“The value of great apes can be measured so many different ways,' said GRASP coordinator Doug Cress. 'As individuals or as species, they are irreplaceable. But these projects with UNESCO allow GRASP to highlight the great apes’ importance on a much broader level, and emphasize the vital role they play in sustainable development.'

UNESCO is a charter partner of GRASP and serves as co-host of the GRASP Secretariat with the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP).

GRASP is a unique alliance of 100 national governments, research institutions, conservation organizations, United Nations agencies and private companies committed to the long-term survival of great apes and their habitat in Africa and Asia.