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To address the many challenges of transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) TFCA Network, in partnership with Peace Parks Foundation, the African Wildlife Foundation, the Frankfurt Zoological Society, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Panthera and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), hosted a symposium in Gaborone, Botswana, from 3 – 5 July 2016.
TFCAs in the SADC region contain numerous and often very large protected areas, community-owned land and, in some cases, private land. Achieving effective conservation and rural sustainable development in these landscapes is challenging because of growing population pressures, illegal hunting, encroachment of wild lands and a variety of other threats. At the same time, state wildlife agencies, communities and other parties regularly find themselves in the impossible situation of having vast protected areas to manage, while suffering staff and funding shortages.
Officiating at the symposium, the permanent secretary in the Botswana Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Mr Elias Magosi, said that biodiversity loss, as characterised by dramatic wildlife declines in some key hotspots around the world, was now considered a grand challenge on a par with climate change, food security, energy security and public health, among others. For this reason, he said ’embracing TFCAs will go a long way towards also addressing these grand challenges.’
Given that biodiversity underpins the functioning of ecosystems that provide a wide range of services to human societies, Mr Magosi added that ‘it is obvious that continued loss of biodiversity will have major implications for current and future human well-beings.’ He said the symposium served as a testimony to SADC’s commitment towards effective stakeholder engagement on issues pertaining to transboundary natural resources management. Proceedings from the SADC TFCA Network symposium, he said, could be harnessed to promote uptake by policy and decision makers, as well as develop benefit-sharing models that will be sensitive to the needs of the different sectors of the community and based on accountability.
Participants from the SADC Secretariat and ministries from ten countries in southern and east Africa debated these challenges with representatives of the TFCAs themselves, as well as with community-based organisations, traditional authorities, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and the donor community, represented by individuals from the German Development Bank (KfW), the African World Heritage Fund, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, USAID and the World Bank.
Ms Mujon Baghai, a researcher at Oxford University, will develop a synopsis of collaborative management models utilised in the TFCAs of southern Africa as a basis for measuring their effectiveness and their contribution to achieving national, regional and continental objectives.