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USAID supports a stakeholdersí exposure visit to India: USAIDís Integrated Protected Area Co-management organized a weeklong exposure visit of 14 GoB and 1 IPAC officials to the Indian state of Paschimbanga during 10-14 December 2012. The objectives of the visit are to observe and learn relevant Sundarbans Protected Area co-management strategies by focusing on forest planning, community participation and co-management,  control of encroachment, reduction of wildlife-human conflicts, management of fisheries, legislative and regulatory support for conservation, strengthening of AIG/VC activities, and involving local stakeholders in the conservation of forestlands, wetlands and other natural resources.
USAIDís IPAC holds Lessons Sharing Session on Role and Status of Women during IPAC Implementation: To capture the key lessons learned during IPAC implementation in regards to womenís role and status, a lesson sharing session was held on December 5-6, 2012 in Coxís Bazar. 30 women from all five clusters of IPAC participated in this two day event. The first day was consisted of field visits to Chunoti Wildlife Sanctuary, Medhakachapia National Park and Teknaf Wildlife Sanctuary where the participants experienced different activities their counterparts are performing with co-management and nature conservation. There were group discussions on Alternative Income Generation Activities, Women Community Patrol Groups, Nishorgo Shahayaks, and women in VCF, CMC, RMO and RUG. . The second day was a full day sharing session where a diverse number of issues were discussed.  This sharing session was part of the IPACísCollaboration, Learning and Adapting (CLA) methods that have been followed by the project and the outcomes will be part of the lessons learned document which includes 11 different themes. The objective of IPAC CLA approach for the final project year is for key stakeholders to identify and assimilate the lessons emerging from project implementation.  The approach taken for different activities related to women, the key successes and shortcomings were noted during the workshop and the lessons will be shared with USAID. USAIDís CREL project also attended the workshop and facilitated a few sessions.

Dhaka, September 15, 2012 Ė Ms. Khurshida Begum of Teknaf Wildlife Sanctuary (TWS) managed by Forest Department of Ministry of Environment & Forests receives an ďHonorable MentionĒ prize for the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) Wanagari Maathai Award 2012. Ms. Begum is receiving this award as a pioneer female change maker in her community and making women more visible in the conservation of natural resources including forests and wetlands. As in 2004 the Bangladesh Forest Department of Ministry of Forests & Environment and USAIDís Nishorgo Support Project established collaborative management of natural resources between the government and the local communities by operationalizing co-management committees (CMC), in 2006 Ms. Kurshida Begum (27) took a bold initiative by forming a female Community Patrol Group (CPG) with 28 women at Kerontali for the forests protection in TWS. Together, these women along with Forest Guards from Forest Department took upon challenges of sharing the responsibility of conserving the sanctuary against poaching and illegal logging under the overall supervision of CMC. This is one of the first instances of such type in Bangladesh. Now there are female patrol groups in Lawachara, Chunoti and many other forest Protected Areas of Bangladesh.

The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) in 2012 launched the first ever Wangari Maathai Award to honor and commemorate the impact of this extraordinary Noble Peace Prize winner woman who championed forest issues around the world. The award has been tasked to be given in recognition of outstanding contributions made by an individual to preserve, restore and sustainably manage forests and to communicate the key role forests play in rural livelihoods and the environment across generations.

Ms. Kurshida, a young widow in the most conservative (Muslim) part of the region, took the leadership in forests protection, promoting female education, contributing in workplace with male counterparts and as an extension worker for child and maternal health care with local NGOs. She was the first ever female in the locality, who advocated for conservation of unique biodiversity in the wildlife sanctuary and organized a group of fellow women to come forward in protecting TWS from illegal poaching. Ms. Begumís efforts in protecting TWS and spreading the words about the importance of preserving biodiversity led her to be offered a position in the local Government and now she is an elected member of Union Parishad.

Ms. Khurshida Begum will be traveling to Rome, Italy, to receive the award on 27 September, during the Food and Agriculture Organizationís (FAO) World Forestry Week meeting.
Through the IPAC project, Forest Department and USAID have been successful in establishing and supporting the Nishorgo Network, a national network of forest and wetland protected areas conserved through co-management by bringing together government and community groups to share the roles, rights, and responsibilities of ecosystem conservation. By giving communities a voice in managing their own resources and providing opportunities for alternative livelihood instead of activities like poaching or illegal logging, Forest Department and USAID have assisted Bangladesh in conserving its biodiversity and increasing economic benefits to communities in and around protected areas. Healthier natural areas and improved, diversified livelihoods help to cope with climate change impacts like floods, cyclones, and droughts. Currently, USAIDís IPAC project works in 18 of the 34 forest protected areas managed across Bangladesh by Forest Department of the Ministry of Environment & Forests.