Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Ensure African environmental sustainability

Environment vital in making African poverty history…

More than 40 African conservationists from 23 countries around the continent today stressed that environmental sustainability and natural resource management should play a vital role in current efforts to “make poverty history” on the continent.

Members of the BirdLife Africa Partnership reiterated the need for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for Africa to be achieved by 2015 – especially Target 1 (to halve poverty by 2015) and Target 9 (to integrate the principles of sustainable development into country programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources).

However, they also drew attention to the recent UN General Assembly "interactive dialogue" with civil society at which it was pointed out that the governments of the world are failing to invest adequately in Goal 7 (MDG7) – which aims to "Ensure environmental sustainability".As a result the ecosystem services on which all the other goals depend – dealing with poverty, hunger, health, gender equality, education and development – are being put at risk.

"Whilst Africa might currently be perceived as poor in terms of economic yardsticks such as GDP and per capita income, the continent is extremely rich in biodiversity. We must not allow this wealth to be plundered in the name of unbridled exploitation, which in many cases never seems to benefit poor communities." Dr Rodger Fotso, President, Cameroon Biodiversity Conservation Society Africa is home to about 25 per cent of global biodiversity, and some of this comprises unique plants and animal species of great economic and ecological value. The continent is home to more than 50,000 known plant species and 1,000 mammal species. It supports 2,313 (23%) of the world’s 9,917 bird species of which 1,400 can only be found in the continent. However, some key indicators already point to a rapidly degrading environment in Africa which could seriously undermine poverty eradication efforts.

In keeping with its call for greater attention to MDG7 and its importance for eradicating poverty, BirdLife Africa has launched a continent–wide programme to work more closely with local community groups. To date, the Partnership has developed about 70 local Site Support Groups living close to key biodiversity areas throughout Africa. The groups aim to manage their own environment in a sustainable way - mainly through the implementation of alternative income-generating activities that will improve their standard of living.

BirdLife’s Head of Policy and Advocacy, Dr. Muhtari Aminu Kanu stated: "This new BirdLife programme will help to empower Africa’s poor to engage with decision- makers over the use – and misuse – of the natural resources on which their livelihoods depend."

4th July 2014