Sometimes you encounter a person with a vision. While Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) President Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas was in Spain as the keynote speaker at the Congress for Social Communication of Science in Burgos in 2019, she and a representative of OFI Canada, Ruth Linsky, were approached by Jorge Extramiana for a collaboration with the Internal Committee of the Wildlife Biological Corridor (ICWBC). As Mr. Jorge Extramiana explained his vision, both Dr. Galdikas and Ms. Linsky were increasingly entranced. In fact, Ms. Linsky said she felt as though a wave of hope washed over her. Dr. Galdikas also had a similar reaction. She realized that this vision made sense. The World Biological Corridor concept that Jorge Extramiana established is an International Program which seeks the creation of a continuous terrestrial and oceanic belt of world biodiversity centered on the equator. The tropics are the place where most terrestrial biodiversity takes place. This is also true of the coral reefs that are most frequently found in tropical waters. In fact, coral reefs have been described as rainforests of the oceans. The genius of the World Biological Corridor is that it links ecosystems, countries, and continents together in one system to which similar conservation approaches can be applied. The corridor is not only about protecting natural ecosystems but also promoting necessary rehabilitation and rewilding of degraded habitats that contribute to the maintenance of world biodiversity. Dr. Galdikas has been a major figure in helping orangutan populations survive as species in the wild while Ms. Linsky has demonstrated a passion for great apes and conservation. These two people are not easy to impress. Dr. Galdikas later agreed to serve as Honorary Co-Chair of the International Committee of the World Biological Corridor, along with Dr. Siylvia Earle, among the most prominent of ocean conservationists, while Ms.Linksy agreed to help however she could. Jorge’s enthusiasm was contagious.
The OFI Board recently passed a resolution that the office of the World Biological Corridor in North America would be hosted by the OFI office in Los Angeles. As the home office of the World Biological Corridor in North America, OFI shows its support for the concept. The two organizations (WBC and OFI) maintain their independence although they are cooperating. OFI is providing an address and an opportunity for the World Biological Corridor to gain its footing on this continent. In the Canary Islands, the World Biological Corridor for The Oceans office is being similarly hosted by the El Hierro Biosphere Reserve.
OFI is delighted to encourage the continued existence and protection of natural ecosystems wherever they are found. This is pertinent for wild orangutan populations which are endangered, according to the IUCN, on the two islands on which they are endemic. Ecological threats do not exist in a vacuum. Given the threat of global climate change and the collapse of the world’s oceans and atmosphere, it is important to sustain the natural world for humans and all wildlife wherever we can. Primates do not exist in a vacuum. They exist in ecosystems that are highly embedded in networks of other ecosystems. The game of dominos comes to mind. When one piece drops it often leads to other pieces dropping. We humans also don’t exist in a vacuum either and in order to save ecosystems around the globe it will take humans working together to preserve life in the various pieces of the Corridor.
For the sake of the world, humans, and wild primate populations, including orangutans, we ultimately need not only one World Biological Corridor but many to sustain life and nature on the planet as we now know it. The World Biological Corridor is a start.