Conserving biodiversity hotspots in Africa
BirdLife Partners from nine countries are meeting this week in Tunis to discuss progress of a major project to enhance monitoring of Africa’s biodiversity hotspots. Participants will discuss conservation challenges facing 160 of the most critical biodiversity sites across the continent.
The project is seeking to support eight biodiversity-rich African countries to meet the Convention on Biological Diversity’s target to ‘achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth’. BirdLife Partners are currently achieving this by developing accurate, cost-effective and robust methods to monitor biodiversity in Protected Areas (PA) and Important Bird Areas (IBAs).
“Birds are well-recognised indicators of biodiversity and a key contributor to livelihoods through food, medicine, energy and other ecosystem services”, said Dr Hazell Shokellu Thompson - Head of BirdLife Africa Secretariat. “Thus, this project which contributes to the conservation of birds and their habitats also makes a major contribution to sustainable development in Africa”, he added.
“this project … makes a major contribution to sustainable development in Africa” —Dr Hazell Shokellu Thompson, Head of BirdLife Africa Secretariat
The Association ‘Les Amis des Oiseaux’ (AAO; BirdLife in Tunisia) is hosting the meeting which is being attended by BirdLife Botswana (BirdLife in Botswana), Fondation des Amis de la Nature / Naturama (BirdLife in Burkina Faso), Association Burundaise pour la Protection des Oiseaux (BirdLife in Burundi), Nature Kenya (BirdLife in Kenya), Nature Uganda (BirdLife in Uganda), Zambian Ornithological Society (BirdLife in Zambia), BirdLife Zimbabwe (BirdLife in Zimbabwe), the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), the European Commission in Brussels and Tunis and representatives from the Tunisian PA management authorities.
“The BirdLife Partnership is grateful to the European Commission for funding that enables African countries to use information on birds to assess the status and trends of biodiversity and hence make an important contribution to the global efforts to reduce biodiversity loss”, said Dr Thompson.
The Tunisian meeting is being held almost two years after the official start of the project. “There is a lot of anticipation and keen interest amongst all the BirdLife project Partners to take stock of what has been achieved”, said Paul Buckley (RSPB). “We’re focusing on our successes and shortcomings, as well applying the recommendations for the better management of the crucial Important Bird Areas”, added Paul Buckley.
“Association ‘Les Amis des Oiseaux’ is honored to take part in this important project which perfectly fits into Tunisia’s national biodiversity conservation strategy”, said Claudia Feltrup-Azafzaf, AAO’s Director of Projects. “At the same time the project gives conservation NGOs the possibility of reinforcing collaboration with government institutions in charge of the monitoring and conservation of PAs and IBAs - a collaboration that is crucial in attaining the 2010 target. AAO greatly values the role that the government authorities in Tunisia play in the conservation of biodiversity”.
“There is a lot of anticipation and keen interest amongst all the BirdLife project Partners to take stock of what has been achieved” —Paul Buckley, RSPB (BirdLife in the UK)
This project provides a unique opportunity to the countries to assess how well conservation goals are being achieved at site level, nationally, regionally and internationally. The major output under this regional initiative is the production of Annual National IBA status and trends reports which document trends at each site, assess sites in need of urgent conservation action and include a clear list of management recommendations based on monitoring outcomes.
“We’ve all made significant strides towards production of the first national status reports for 2008”, said Thandiwe Chikomo, BirdLife Africa’s Regional Project Manager. “We are now in a position to contribute towards the Fourth National Reports to the Convention on Biological Diversity. This provides an important opportunity to demonstrate progress towards implementation of the Convention at the national level and towards meeting the 2010 target, as well as to consider what further efforts are needed”.
The Nature Kenya 2007 National Status Report highlights the effective intervention strategies that have been undertaken by different stakeholders in order to minimize threats to biodiversity. It is anticipated that through this project, more intervention measures can be applied to as many sites as possible in the African continent in order to reduce biodiversity loss. To read more about the report, please click here.
The meeting is being held from the 3rd until the 5th of March 2009 at the “Le Belvedere” hotel in Tunis. ‘Instituting Effective Monitoring of Protected Areas/Important Bird Areas to reduce biodiversity loss in Africa’ is funded by the European Commission and being managed by the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and coordinated by the BirdLife International Secretariat in Nairobi, Kenya.
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Credits: The Association ‘Les Amis des Oiseaux’, BirdLife Botswana, Fondation des Amis de la Nature / Naturama, Association Burundaise pour la Protection des Oiseaux, Nature Kenya, Nature Uganda, Zambian Ornithological Society, BirdLife Zimbabwe, RSPB