Local Capacity-building through handicrafts, a way toward the conservation of the critically endangered Great Bustard in IRAN

Poverty and unawareness can be regarded as two very important factors which pushed the Great Bustard into the nationwide extinction vortex in Iran. As stated in the Great Bustard Action Plan for Iran (Naderi, 2017), the very weak economic status of the local communities in the species’ last refugium is a big threat to the survival of the remaining tiny population (n=20‒25). I, therefore, propose to focus on local capacity-building while increasing awareness and providing a stable source of income for the communities hosting the target species meantime. Going back over 2,500 years, handmade carpets are one of the most famous flagship handicrafts of Persian societies, which can describe the rich history of Persians and their ancient history. The rural communities living in and near the target species’ last remaining habitat also have their own native carpet patterns. We will help local weavers to provide handmade products inspired by the Great Bustard while considering their deep cultural history. This is an ideal opportunity to mitigate the impact of poverty and unemployment on Great Bustard conservation programs and increase locals’ capacity and national awareness about the target species conservation.

PI: Morteza Naderi