Africa is experiencing a dramatic loss of biodiversity. By the end of this century, climate change alone could cause the loss of over half of African bird and mammal species, and a significant loss of plant species.
The livelihoods, wellbeing and food and water security of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Africa are threatened by habitat loss and degradation, over-exploitation of wildlife and fisheries, and the spread of non-native invasive species.
Yet, paradoxically, African leaders could also hold the key to protecting the world’s wildlife and wild places.
Namibia and Botswana have already protected 30 percent of their land. Rwanda’s mountain forests are fully protected in law. Ethiopia is investing significantly in reforestation. Bangweulu in Zambia is a unique, community owned protected wetland, home to 50,000 people who retain the right to sustainably harvest its natural resources and who depend entirely on the richness the park provides.
Fish stocks have significantly improved, poaching has been reduced, bird populations are up and Bangweulu Wetlands is the largest employer in the region.
If other African governments follow these examples and take bold action to protect nature, there is a real chance of achieving a new international agreement to halt biodiversity loss.
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Author: Abiodun Jacob Aderibigbe is a member of the the Sustainable Environment Food and Agriculture Initiative (SEFAAI) in Nigeria and works at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management at the University of Agriculture, in Abeokuta. He specialises in the sustainable use of natural resources through education, advocacy and research.