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Agriculture and conservation: land use conflict or opportunity for mutual gain?

03 April 2014 | Article

The BIOPAMA Capacity Building Action Plan for Eastern and Southern Africa is focused on addressing land and resource use conflicts in and around protected areas, with particular emphasis on working with other sectors such as agriculture, extractive industries and fisheries. After the initial success with a cross sectoral dialogue on potential land and resource use between the extractive industries and World Heritage sectors, BIOPAMA is looking towards another major sector, agriculture, potentially in competition with protected areas and biodiversity conservation in Africa.

If we are to find long-term sustainable solutions to food security and biodiversity conservation, we need policies that require conservation and agriculture sectors to collaborate and find joint solutions. There are big plans in place for “Agricultural Growth corridors” across the continent. These development corridors are aimed at improving food security, but also need to consider biodiversity in order to be sustainable, given the reliance on functional ecosystems and ecosystem services. Therefore, a mutual gain will be for agriculture and conservation to come together to work with rural communities to ensure a food-secure future based on integrated planning.

The first BIOPAMA engagement in this cross sectoral dialogue will take place during a BirdLife-supported workshop, and by the development of a MoU for further joint actions.

BIOPAMA will contribute to this Regional Workshop on Agro-chemical Poisoning and Conservation of Migratory Soaring Birds along the Rift Valley/Red Sea Flyway (10 - 12 April 2014, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) by addressing the question of land resource use in the context of the cross sectoral agriculture-conservation approach. BIOPAMA will support Ministers of Agriculture from Horn of Africa States (Djibouti, Ethiopia and Sudan) to attend this dialogue. The workshop aims to raise awareness of the impact of agricultural activities in the flyway and seek stakeholder input and engagement in mainstreaming the conservation of migratory soaring birds (MSBs) considerations into the agriculture sector in the project countries.

The collaboration between IUCN and Birdlife on the cross sectoral conservation will be enhanced by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on capacity building on dialogue processes and the development of best practices guidelines for the Horn of Africa.

The next step for BIOPAMA’s capacity building plan for Eastern and Southern Africa is to start a similar collaboration process with SADC (Southern African Development Community), whose strategic area 6 of the regional Biodiversity Action Plan focuses on biodiversity, including the development of projects across different sectors.

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An Initiative of the ACP Secretarist, funded by the European Union under the 10th EDF