BIOPAMA Meeting Offers Solutions for Nature Conservation and Enhanced Livelihoods in Eastern and Southern Africa

3 December 2012

Three days of intensive work in South Africa from Dec 4 – 6 have led to breakthroughs for the Biodiversity and Protected Area Management (BIOPAMA) programme. The meeting, convened by the main BIOPAMA partners IUCN and the European Commission Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC), led to the identification of information needs, gaps and products for better decision making on protected areas in Eastern and Southern Africa, as well as priority capacity building needs linked to better decision making.

The BIOPAMA programme aims to address threats to biodiversity in three world hotspots, Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) countries, while enhancing livelihoods in communities in and around protected areas. BIOPAMA combines improving data availability with capacity development to strengthen decision making for better protected area management.

”In keeping with the intentions of BIOPAMA, the workshop succeeded in bringing together representatives of key institutions and IUCN government and NGO members involved in protected areas management across the region,” says Ali Kaka, IUCN Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “It therefore is helping to strengthen a regional network that will ensure that our protected areas are effectively managed and governed.”

One part of the protected areas component focuses on strengthening the use of information for better decision making. To achieve this, Andreas Brink of EC-JRC stated that the BIOPAMA will develop a Regional Reference Information System (RRIS) to provide decision makers with the means to assess the state of biodiversity values in, and threats to, protected areas. The system will ultimately enable African governments to prioritize mechanisms to improve protected area management.

BIOPAMA’s other component, Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) of resources provided by protected areas, was also covered during the workshop. “Conservation in protected areas needs incentives and good governance. ABS – if implemented properly – has the potential to provide both at the same time,” says Suhel al-Janabi from the ABS Capacity Development Initiative, which manages BIOPAMA’s ABS efforts.

In the Eastern and Southern Africa region, effective governance is vital for addressing most of the critical threats to protected areas but often receives less attention in capacity building programs. During the workshop, Moses Mapesa, the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Regional Vice Chair for the Eastern and Southern Africa region proposed that capacity building efforts, particularly on governance, should focus on CEOs and Directors of protected areas agencies, as well as Directors and Permanent Secretaries of the line ministries. “These levels must have competence to enable them to engage in dialogue with counterparts in other sectors such as energy, agriculture, livestock, mining, industry and transport that threaten protected areas and biodiversity conservation,” says Mapesa.

BIOPAMA is funded by the intra-ACP envelope of the European Commission’s (EC) 10th European Development Fund (EDF). The workshop in South Africa marked an important step forward in the programme’s efforts to strengthen a regional network of protected area, data management and capacity building experts and reduce dependency on foreign consultants. Similar workshops focused on West and Centra Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, will be held in early 2013.

 For more information, please contact Leo Niskanen, IUCN ESARO Conservation Areas and Species Diversity Programme Coordinator on [email protected]

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