REGIONAL COOPERATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

COOPERATION IN WILDLIFE AND BIODIVERSITY MANAGEMENT

Africa has a long history of cooperation in wildlife management, dating back to old agreements, such as the 1933 London Convention Relative to the Preservation of Fauna and Flora in Their Natural State. The management of wildlife has evolved since then – from preservation to sustainable utilization. More recently, some countries have adopted a transboundary approach to wildlife management, establishing TBNRM areas. Southern Africa has been a major player, in redefining and shifting the conservation agenda, as well as a pioneer in the development of TBNRM. It has adopted and implemented a wide range of such initiatives, from those that establish transboundary parks, to mountain conservation areas, to integrated management frameworks for shared marine ecosystems, to spatial development initiatives (Mohamed-Katerere 2001).

Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

The Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is a new transboundary park between South Africa and Namibia, which was proclaimed in 2003. It has been described as a collection of “jigsaw pieces” to eventually create one of the world’s greatest coastal sanctuaries to protect a unique desert ecosystem across three countries, covering about 180 000 km² (Marshall 2003).

It is intended to eventually include Angola. Namibia has signed a memorandum of understanding with Angola to pursue the establishment of a similar transfrontier park across the Kunene River. The three countries expect to establish by 2006 a super park – which would be about the same size as Uruguay (Marshall 2003) – bringing these various areas together. Encompassing an arid landscape, the “super park” will be long and thin, stretching for about 2 400 km along Southern Africa’s Atlantic seaboard, and crossing the boundaries of South Africa, Namibia and Angola. The first step to the realization of this super park is the treaty between South Africa and Namibia to establish the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, which spans the Orange River boundary to link South Africa’s Richtersveld with Namibia’s Ai-Ais and Fish River Canyon National Park (Marshall 2003).

Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park

The 35 000 km² Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park connects South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park, and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park (Marshall 2003), and is seen as an integral part of the Maputo Development Corridor (Mohamed-Katerere 2001). This megapark, which will be more than three times the size of Yellowstone National Park in the United States and almost as big as The Netherlands, will be one of the biggest conservation areas in the world.

The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park is a huge ecosystem that is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including those most sought after by tourists – Panthera leo (lion), Ceratotherium simum (white rhinoceros), Diceros bicornis (black rhinoceros), Giraffa camelopardalis (giraffe), Loxodonta africana (elephant), Hippopotamus amphibius (hippopotamus) and Syncerus caffer (buffalo) (African Wildlife Foundation 2003). It will also help strengthen economic relations between the three Southern African neighbours by attracting greater numbers of tourists: “creating new jobs and fortifying a tourism base not yet meeting its full potential” (African Wildlife Foundation 2003). The park will allow managers from the three different parks to consolidate their infrastructure development, law enforcement, and fire management strategies and thus effectively lower costs. It also addresses the most serious worldwide threat to wildlife: the loss and fragmentation of habitat.

Congo Basin Forest Partnership

Central African countries have taken the lead in trying to effectively manage the sub-region’s forest resources. A recent example is the meeting of the Conference of Ministers for the Forests of Central Africa (COMIFAC) in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in January 2003. It highlighted the fact that African tropical forests constitute significant natural wealth for present and future generations. They urged the new partnership to:

  • Be well-balanced, responsible, transparent and to promote agreement among the parties;
  • Reconcile conservation objectives with development requirements;
  • Ensure the conservation of the Congo basin forests through implementation of the Plan de Convergence priority actions;
  • Help reduce poverty in Central Africa through greater involvement of communities and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in conserving ecosystems;
  • Strengthen and develop national capacities; and
  • Include all international organizations that are willing to participate in efforts for sustainable management of the Congo basin forests.

Given the global significance of the Congo basin forest – it is the second largest forest in the world after the Amazon, and plays an important role in climate regulation, as well as being a huge repository of biological diversity – the countries of the Congo basin appealed for broad international solidarity to execute the UN Resolution No 54/214 of December 22, 1999, and support their effort for conservation and sustainable management of these forest ecosystems (COMIFAC 2004). The partnership has been supported by the second Summit of Head of States of Central Africa on the Conservation and Sustainable Management of the Forest Ecosystems, held in Brazzaville in February 2005. The Central African leaders adopted a declaration and an agreement, which commits the parties to:

  • Recognize, as a national priority, the conservation and sustainable management of forests as well as the protection of their environment.
  • Accelerate the establishment of the necessary instruments for sustainable development, particularly internationally accepted certification systems and to build the requisite capacity for their implementation.
  • Put in place measures aimed at incorporating conservation and sustainable management of ecosystems into other development sectors including transport and agriculture.
  • Establish in every country, sustainable financial mechanisms for the funding of the forest sector.
  • Speed up the creation of transboundary protected areas between Central African countries.
  • Strengthen participatory mechanisms aimed at increasing the consultation and participation of rural populations in the planning and management of forests.
  • Develop the partnership with the international community to attract the necessary funds to finance these activities.

To facilitate the implementation of the agreement and promote the harmonization and monitoring of forest policies in Central Africa, the nine countries of Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Congo Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Burundi, Rwanda and São Tomé and Príncipe, established COMIFAC.