Japan announced Thursday its intention to contribute $5 million this year to the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, an international fund to help protect environmentally sensitive areas around the globe.

Environment Minister Hiroshi Ohki announced the move at a preparatory meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, due to be held from late August through early September in Johannesburg.

The fund funnels money to nongovernmental groups involved in conserving “hot spot” areas of environmental biodiversity — places in which more than 60 percent of the planets terrestrial species inhabit just 1.4 percent of the land area.

Japan will be the fifth contributor to the fund, established in August 2000, and the first national government to do so. It intends to continue the donation for five years.

Other fund members include the World Bank, Global Environment Facility, Conservation International, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The fund plans to spend at least $150 million over the next five years.

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