Biodiversity in Africas Protected Areas Declining Fast

©Lynette Strauss

A study of protected areas at 117 sites across seven countries in Africa has revealed a progressive decline in biodiversity.This was unveiled during a side event in Kenya on May 12, 2010 hosted by BirdLife during the on-going SSTTA meeting attended by Government delegates from all over the world.

The event showcased results from a monitoring project implemented by BirdLife and RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and funded by the European Commission.

The monitoring results clearly show that the state of biodiversity in protected areas is declining. Sites identified as being in a poor state increased from 43% in 2001, to 57% in 2008.

There has been a general increase of threats facing protected areas. Delegates at the meeting heard how BirdLife used a simple 'State, Pressure, Response' Model for the monitoring of African Important Bird Areas (IBAs), of which 46% are Protected Areas. The data from the monitoring have been used to develop indicators to show trends over time within IBAs.

These results form important components of the suite of indicators suitable to track biodiversity progress towards the 2010 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) target, and wider sustainable development around the globe.

"The results also show that if proper management responses are put in place it is possible to improve the state of biodiversity and reduce pressures", said Achilles Byaruhanga - Executive Director of Nature Uganda (BirdLife Partner).

"This was well demonstrated through the sites monitored in Botswana - Central Kalahari Game reserve, Okavango Delta and Mannyelanong - where comprehensive and effective uses of existing management plans have been instituted".

BirdLife told delegates that it is important for policies to be implemented and alternative livelihoods be provided for to reduce the pressures facing Protected Areas to ensure that governments start moving towards meeting their biodiversity target under the CBD.

"BirdLife's monitoring tool is a useful tool and can be used by governments to identify threats, assess their impacts and that of conservation action while at the same time helping to develop solutions", said Dr Julius Arinaitwe - BirdLife Africa Partnership Director.

"BirdLife supports a post 2010 commitment by Governments (2020 target) that urges for urgent action to halt biodiversity loss; to reduce pressure on biodiversity, prevent extinctions, restore ecosystems while equitably sharing the benefits, thus contributing to human well being and poverty reduction", concluded Dr Arinaitwe. In total, BirdLife is working in 22 countries in Africa in over 1,200 IBAs.

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