The Future of Biodiversity in Africa

Children- The Future of Biodiversity
African conservation leaders should “move beyond piecemeal projects” and “make biodiversity the foundation of African development,” by bundling ecosystem services to recognize nature as an asset for the well-being of society, according to Mohamed Bakarr, Senior Vice President of Conservation International. Bakarr was speaking at a workshop on the Future of Biodiversity in Africa, convened by IUCN in conjunction with the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The workshop, held 18 to 20 September 2008 with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, brought 35 experts from across sub-Saharan Africa together to review achievements in biodiversity conservation, scan the horizon for emerging challenges, and articulate a vision statement for the biodiversity from the standpoint of the year 2025. The goal is to provide input into donor programs on the links between biodiversity and emerging challenges such as climate change and intensified investment in extractive industries.
The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) is a network of international conservation organizations with programs addressing biodiversity in Africa. Members include the African Wildlife Foundation, Conservation International, IUCN-The World Conservation Union, the Jane Goodall Institute, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund.
In the opening message to the workshop, the Director of Tanzania’s Ministry of Environment, Dr. Eric Mugurusi, conveyed a statement from the Minister of State for Environment, Dr. Baltilda Burian that “Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change.” Burian noted that climate change would have a severe impact on national parks, wildlife conservation, agricultural lands and tourism, and called for the development of climate adaptation strategies, increase in the use of renewable energy, and improved land management including restoration of degraded lands.
In his keynote address, Conservation International Senior Vice President Mohamed Bakarr reminded participants of the tremendous accomplishments of conservation in Africa, particularly in protected areas, which have preserved assets that otherwise could have been lost. The challenge, he said, was that “people and nature are not separate, they are one and the same. We now have a chance to recognize that the well-being of people and of the planet depend upon the well-being of natural resources….we cannot keep creating protected areas if we can’t put them in the context of the services that are critical for the well-being of both people and ecosystems.”
The workshop produced a vision statement that was shared with the U.S. Agency for International Development and other donors and partners for use in its biodiversity programming.

Vision Statement (English), Francais, Português

The Future of Biodiversity in Africa (Read the full report here)

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

September 2008


Biodiversity remains the fundamental basis of Africa’s development, and underpins the well-being of current and future generations. With swelling human demand upon natural resources and inadequate institutional infrastructure, however, Africa has witnessed the destruction and degradation of vast natural areas, from forests and savannahs to freshwater and marine areas. Nevertheless, significant areas in Africa still remain where the habitat is relatively intact, and Africa holds much of the world's biodiversity and natural resources. However, climate change, ongoing population growth till late in the century and globalization of trade pose serious threats for the future. But there are also opportunities which we must seize, building on existing successful approaches to biodiversity conservation as well as new innovation, to take urgent and renewed action. For the great majority of African’s, biodiversity represents the only lifeline that can no longer be ignored.

Experts in biodiversity conservation from across Africa, convened by IUCN and the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group in Dar es Salaam on September 18-20, 2008, articulated the following vision for the future of biodiversity in Africa, and call upon donors and partners to join them in realizing this vision.

By 2025, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss in Africa have been significantly slowed, people and nature are adapting to climate change, and species and ecosystem services are providing a foundation for human welfare in a society committed to sustainable economic development and equitable sharing of natural resource benefits


A. Mainstream biodiversity in human well-being and development agendas

  1. Promote climate change mitigation, and climate adaptation for biodiversity and people (including: ensuring Africa plays a significant role in climate change mitigation advocacy; keeping African greenhouse gas emissions low; linking carbon credit schemes to poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation, integrating climate science in vulnerability assessments; undertaking disaster preparedness and mitigation efforts; ensuring multi-sectoral and multi-level collaboration and partnerships; and networking to share solutions)
  2. Harness biodiversity and ecosystem services for improved agriculture (including using innovative techniques to increase productivity and yields and improve food security; and adopting conservation agriculture or “ecoagriculture” approaches)
  3. Enhance greater accountability for sustaining biodiversity and ecosystem services by private sector institutions (including developing alternatives; promoting fuel efficiency and alternative energy sources; and limiting pressure on freshwater sources through more efficient uses of water)
  4. Promote restoration/rehabilitation of degraded systems and natural resources (including research, monitoring and evaluation of montane, forest, arid, savannah, mangrove, coral, and freshwater systems) in order to provide livelihoods while increasing biodiversity.
  5. Enhance the role of healthy ecosystems in mitigating risk and impact of emerging diseases (e.g. reducing risk of disease transfer among wildlife, people and livestock; mitigating the impacts of emerging diseases on wildlife and the environment)
  6. Promote increased understanding and awareness of biodiversity and environmental issues (through greater scientific research, improved communication of scientific results and issues, and enhanced awareness raising)

B. Promote good conservation practices

  1. Promote conservation of existing biodiversity (by practicing effective management of protected areas and endangered species management, and adopting matrix approaches to conservation using broad landscape areas)
  2. Promote sound nature tourism development (including empowerment and strengthening capacity of local communities for to have greater control and ownership of ecotourism)
  3. Demonstrate biodiversity and ecosystem services as fundamental bases of human well-being (promoting livelihood security and reducing pressure on biodiversity through alternative economic activities)
  4. Promote sound governance and rights-based approaches (promoting rights of local people, sharing benefits, engaging civil building capacity, ensuring stakeholder access to information and decision-making processes, empowering women, undertaking multisectoral approaches and partnerships; and promoting sound policy at all levels)
  5. Promote innovative conservation funding mechanisms (including promoting conservation investment and new funding mechanisms; promoting payment for environmental services)

C. Strengthen the role of Social and Development institutions in Biodiversity Conservation and Human Well-Being

  1. Reach out to faith communities for dialogue and collaboration - The global urgency for a sustainable world demands multidimensional approaches and a persistent push for ideals based on innovative and pragmatic strategies. Faith-based communities comprise the largest social organizations in Africa, representing a repository of opportunities to spread the cause for sustainability in the continent. Conservation leaders should reach out to religious communities to collaborate in implementing these recommendations, with a view to enhancing the capacity for value-based sustainability decisions that link nature and human well-being.
  2. Reach out to relief and development organizations for mitigating impacts of migration and natural population growth (including improving access to healthcare and family planning services and information; promoting girls education and women’s empowerment; and reducing the impacts of migration)

This effort was funded by the Biodiversity Analysis and Technical Support (BATS) for USAID/Africa Program of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Bureau for Africa, Office of Sustainable Development (AFR/SD). Program partners include Chemonics International Inc., U.S. Forest Service/International Programs and the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group. Also see the ABCG Meeting on "Mapping Future Trends and Interventions for Biodiversity Conservation in Africa" and the Chemonics International publication, Protecting Hard-Won Ground.

In December 2008, ABCG organized a follow on session on "The Future of Biodiversity in Africa" at the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) Conference on "Biodiversity in a Rapidly Changing World". See the Recommendatons put forth for the incoming Obama Administration and others for action on conservation in Africa.

In January 2009, ABCG led an organized discussion at the Society for Conservation Biology-Africa Section Conference in Ghana to get feedback on the Dar Vision Statement and how to turn it into policy interventions.  See the powerpoint presented on "The Future of Biology in Africa: Turning the Dar Vision into Policy Initiatives".

Read the full report: The Future of Biodiversity in Africa: Report of a Consultation 2007-2009.

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Date CreatedWednesday, November 5, 2008 3:04 PM
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