Five key players commit to biodiversity in Africa
Although Africa is not the main emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs), the continent is nonetheless suffering the consequences of climate change. The phenomenon manifests itself in increased droughts which affect both humans and biodiversity. Besides climate change, population growth is leading to the rapid expansion of African cities. In most countries of Central and West Africa, this urban development comes at the expense of biodiversity.
However, in the field, many players are showing an interest in environmental issues and, above all, in the preservation of biodiversity. This is the case of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which are increasing awareness-raising missions on the preservation of biodiversity, supporting local communities in adapting to climate change and carrying out studies to encourage public authorities to take decisions. in favor of the preservation of the environment.
The key role of environmental organizations
One of the most active NGOs in the field of biodiversity conservation is GreenPeace Africa, the African branch of GreenPeace, based in Vancouver, Canada. This large association is particularly known for its warnings, denunciations and positions on major projects having an impact on biodiversity. Recently, the organization again criticized Deutsche Bank for funding an agricultural project that would destroy 10,000 hectares of forest in southern Cameroon.
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The German bank has decided to finance a concession granted by the Cameroonian authorities to Sudcam Hevea. The local subsidiary of the Singaporean rubber giant Halcyon Agri wants to raze the equatorial forest to create a vast rubber plantation. Also, in Cameroon, GreenPeace denounced the Camvert project, a large palm oil plantation that will soon be built in Campo, in the south of the country. This other agricultural project will result in the loss of 60,000 hectares of tropical forest. Besides Cameroon, GreenPeace is active in Congo, where it recently spoke on the award of nine forest concessions to Chinese companies Congo King Baisheng Forestry Development and Congo Sunflower Forestry Development. In West Africa, the international NGO denounces, among other things, overfishing in Mauritanian territorial waters …
For its part, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), very influential at the international level, carries out fieldwork and stands out for its nature conservation initiatives. In recent months, the organization has stepped up its actions in the fight against plastic waste pollution, particularly on the Kerkennah Islands in Tunisia, or on the Kenyan coast thanks to a partnership with Kenya PET Recycling Company (Petco) and Mr. Green Africa. WWF also undertakes actions for the protection of wildlife or for the production of renewable energy.
The contribution of conservation organizations
Conservation organizations are among the key players in the conservation of biodiversity in Africa. The most active is undoubtedly African Parks NetWork. Founded in 2000 and based in Johannesburg, South Africa, the organization manages national parks and protected areas across Africa in partnership with governments and local communities. With more than 1000 rangers, African Parks manages at least 15 African national parks.
In West Africa, the organization has been entrusted with the delegated management of the Pendjari and W national parks in Benin. In Central Africa, Africa Parks manages the protection of Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Iona National Park in Angola, Odzala-Kokoua National Park in Congo, and Parc national de l ‘ Ennedi, Siniaka Minia National Park, Zakouma National Park in Chad and Chinko National Park in Central African Republic (CAR) Akagera and Nyungwe National Parks in Rwanda, Bangladesh and the Liuwa Plain in Zambia and Lilongwe, Majete, Mangochi and Nkhotakota in Malawi are also under the protection of Africa Parks.
For his part, Noah contributes to the preservation of flora and fauna in several African countries. The association, based in Paris, France, created the “Noah’s Parks” branch to safeguard biodiversity through long-term public-private partnerships (PPP) with terms ranging from 15 to 25 years. Under these PPPs, Noah’s Parks provides day-to-day operational management and business planning while governments retain ownership and responsibility for legislative and policy frameworks. The association has also obtained delegated management of the Conkouati-Douli national park in Congo, the Binder-Léré wildlife reserve in Chad and the Termit and Tin Toumma national nature reserve in Niger.
Support from financial partners for biodiversity conservation
As part of its activities in Africa, Noé receives support from several development partners such as the French Development Agency (AFD). Like most international financial institutions, the French bank wishes to increase its financing for the preservation of biodiversity in Africa. Thus, during the One Planet Summit held online on January 11e2021, AFD has pledged to release € 1 billion to finance the preservation of biodiversity over the next five years worldwide, of which € 600 million will go to the Great Green Wall initiative.
The agency was followed by other financial institutions such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), which pledged $ 6.5 billion for the Great Green Wall over five years. The World Bank has pledged to finance climate projects to the tune of $ 22.5 million, also over 5 years. This other financial support should benefit Africa, which is facing a real climate challenge for the development of its agriculture and the preservation of biodiversity. Regardless of these relatively recent commitments, these development banks are increasingly increasing their climate finance, alongside bilateral partners.
Assistance from bilateral partners and regional organizations
The greatest achievement of the African Union (AU) in environmental protection is the Great Green Wall. The aim of this initiative is to plant a mosaic of trees, meadows, vegetation and plants 8,000 kilometers long and 15 kilometers wide across the Sahara and the Sahel to restore degraded lands. “And help the people of the region to produce adequate food, to create jobs and to promote peace.”
This strip of vegetation, which will also allow the regeneration of biodiversity, will cross Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. Although the implementation of the Great Green Wall has been significantly delayed since its launch in 2007, mainly due to a lack of funding, the project is nonetheless ambitious and achievable. In addition, during the One Planet Summit, many development partners pledged funds to revive the project.
Among the partners of the Great Green Wall is also the European Union (EU). The EU is also involved in other biodiversity conservation projects in Africa. In 2019, the EU committed € 100 million for the implementation of the sixth phase of the regional program to support the preservation of biodiversity and fragile ecosystems in Central Africa (Ecofac). The objective of this initiative is to preserve biodiversity by supporting 12 protected areas in Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Chad and Sao Tome and Principe.
What role for African governments?
In some African countries, biodiversity, and in particular wildlife, represents an important financial windfall for the economy. Well-preserved wildlife attracts tourists. In countries like Kenya, the tourism sector contributed $ 1.61 billion to GDP in 2019. In neighboring Tanzania, tourism accounts for around 4.3% of GDP. In 2018, tourism receipts reached $ 2.4 billion, up 7% from 2017. The number of visitors, which stood at 1.5 million for the year, could grow by more than 16% by 2023, according to the French Treasury. However, everything will depend on the evolution of the health crisis due to Covid-19, which has caused the cancellation of many reservations in 2020 and 2021.
According to the same source, the growth of the tourism sector is based on unique and diverse attractions, including seven sites listed as World Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The national parks of northern Tanzania, particularly the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, offer some of Africa’s most famous safaris. But Tanzania faces a growing human-wildlife conflict, which authorities are trying to control with the support of environmental organizations.
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Gabon is also distinguished by its policies for preserving floral biodiversity. The country, located in the heart of the equatorial forest, is one of the main wood exporters on the African continent. In 2009, the Gabonese government announced an export ban on logs. The purpose of this measure, which entered into force in 2010, was to create jobs for young people, but above all to ensure the traceability of wood to prevent excessive cutting. This policy was further reinforced by the application of due diligence in the Nkok Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
Jean Marie Takouleu