Governments must tackle Climate Change now
The scientific evidence of climate change and its actual and potential detrimental effects on people, biodiversity and habitats is now overwhelming. Climate change threatens the basic elements of life across Africa. Looking after Africa's ecosystems is vital for the future of people and wildlife. Many ecosystems that people and biodiversity depend on, such as forests and wetlands, are likely to be seriously impacted by climate change. These vital messages were highlighted during a side-meeting hosted by BirdLife International at the ongoing Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) SBSTTA meeting in Nairobi today.
The meeting presented the results of recent work that has examined the projected impacts of climate change on the distribution of birds and other biodiversity throughout Africa, and the resilience of a network of over 800 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) across the continent. BirdLife also displayed The Africa Adaptive Management Framework - a guide for biodiversity management strategies and actions in a changing climate that is being piloted in the Albertine Rift that spans Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
BirdLife explained how it promotes the role of healthy ecosystems in climate change adaptation. In Africa, some of the expected impacts of climate change include damage to coastal cities from sea-level rise, extreme weather conditions such as extended drought, increased health risks due to shifts in disease patterns, and loss of ecosystem services such as clean water and air, food and carbon capture.
“BirdLife has embarked on working with like-minded communities in Africa to ensure that adaptation measures are implemented” —Ken Mwathe, BirdLife Climate Change Project Manager
"With such adverse effects projected, BirdLife has embarked on working with like-minded communities in Africa to ensure that adaptation measures are implemented", indicated Ken Mwathe - BirdLife Climate Change Project Manager. "BirdLife's initiatives to guard against the impacts of climate change include improving resilience of Africa's IBAs, working with communities to empower and build resilience and capacity, developing The Adaptive Management Framework for species and ecosystems, promoting scientific modeling to improve understanding of species reactions to climate change, and sharing knowledge through our Africa Climate ExChange website".
BirdLife believes that ecosystems play a key role in helping people adapt to the impacts of climate change and demonstrates this through practical, site-based examples. During the BirdLife side-event, a case study from the Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands in Nigeria was presented. This demonstrated how empowered local communities have restored their wetland ecosystem services - provided benefits to themselves and their important ecosystem. The Kijabe Environment Volunteers (KENVO) in Kenya demonstrated how agroforestry can be an effective adaptation approach. Some of the benefits of ecosystem approaches to adaptation were highlighted including: protecting the natural resource base, providing alternative livelihood options, maintaining resilience to future climate change and helping prevent 'mal-adaptation'.
"BirdLife is now working to ensure that The Adaptive Management Framework recommendations are included in Protected Area policy, and that the role of biodiversity and ecosystems within national adaptation policy planning is enhanced", reiterated Jane Gaithuma - Regional Policy and Advocacy Manager, BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat. "BirdLife is also working to empower its partners to engage in national adaptation planning processes and also ensuring mainstreaming of adaptation into other sectoral policies such as energy, agriculture, water management".
"The BirdLife Partnership in Africa has become increasingly concerned about climate change and the projected adverse implications for biodiversity and the people dependant on it. It is hoped that through the CBD, the role of biodiversity and ecosystems in supporting adaptation to climate change can be recognised, especially under Target 15 of the post-2010 targets, and that more attention to ecosystems and biodiversity can be given in local, national, sectoral, regional and global adaptation plans", concluded Dr Julius Arinaitwe - Regional Director, BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat.
Read more about how to receive BirdLife news.