Culture, Featured

From Degradation To Conservation – Protecting Africa’s Biodiversity

Nmesoma Okwudili


April 3, 2023

Africa is a continent rich in biodiversity, with numerous plant and animal species that cannot be found anywhere else. Land preservation in Africa is critical to the survival of these species and the ecosystem services they provide. However, Land preservation has become a crucial issue in Africa, not only for preserving the continent’s rich biodiversity but also for the well-being of its people. Africa’s land provides critical habitat and ecosystem services for wildlife and people to thrive. 

 According to the African Wildlife Foundation, wildlife species roam across a mosaic of vast and varied landscapes, including protected areas, communities, and private and public lands. These landscapes provide shelter, food, and breeding grounds for many different species of animals, which are essential to maintaining the ecosystem’s delicate balance.

However, human activities such as deforestation, mining, and agricultural expansion have destroyed many of these landscapes. As a result, wildlife populations are declining rapidly, and the ecosystem services provided are being lost. Preserving the remaining natural habitats in Africa is essential to reverse this trend.

One of the main challenges of land preservation in Africa is governance. Institutions responsible for protecting the land are often weak or corrupt, and powerful interests often thwart their efforts. In particular, private investment in mineral exploitation and ivory trade can harm conservation efforts, and foreign investment in aid and poverty alleviation may only sometimes prioritise conservation. 

However, there are also success stories of private investment and foreign aid that have helped with conservation efforts. For example, an UN-backed project in Gabon has successfully protected biodiversity and created jobs through sustainable forestry practices.

Another challenge to land preservation in Africa is urbanisation. As more people move to cities, increasing pressure to convert land for urban use can destroy natural habitats and cause biodiversity loss. Climate change is also a significant threat to land preservation in Africa. Rising temperatures and changing weather patterns can lead to the loss of habitats and the displacement of species. Therefore, it is essential to implement strategies that protect the land and mitigate the effects of climate change.

A proposed solution to land preservation in Africa is to increase funding for protected areas. Africa receives around $51 billion in annual development aid, but only a fraction of that goes towards supporting protected areas. Reallocating a tiny percentage of those funds towards conservation efforts could have a significant impact. Additionally, private sector funding and partnerships could also play a role in financing conservation efforts in Africa.

Another proposed solution is to engage local communities in conservation efforts. Many communities in Africa rely on natural resources for their livelihoods, and ensuring that they have a stake in preserving those resources is crucial. Community-based conservation initiatives have been successful in some areas, such as establishing community conservancies in Kenya and Namibia. These initiatives provide economic benefits to communities while also promoting conservation efforts.

Reversal and prevention of land degradation are also very crucial in land preservation. According to an article published in The Conversation, land degradation is a critical issue that must be addressed if we want ecosystems to continue functioning. This includes preventing soil erosion, reducing the use of harmful chemicals, and promoting sustainable land management practices.

In addition, governance and institutions play a crucial role in conservation outcomes in Africa. An article published in Environmental Research Letters states that management, private investment, foreign investment, the status of women, wealth, urbanisation, civil conflict, and climate change affect African conservation outcomes. Therefore, it is essential to have strong governance structures and institutions that prioritise conservation and promote sustainable land use practices.

Private investment, including mineral exploitation and ivory trade, can significantly impact African land preservation. However, it is crucial that this investment is sustainable and does not harm the environment or wildlife. Foreign investment, such as aid and poverty alleviation, can also be critical in African conservation efforts.

Finally, funding for conservation efforts in Africa is also critical. According to an article published in The New York Times, Africa receives around $51 billion in annual development aid, about 200 times more than it gets for supporting its protected areas [5]. By reallocating just 2 per cent of these funds towards protected areas, it would be possible to provide critical funding for conservation efforts in Africa.

Preserving African land is critical for the survival of many plant and animal species and the ecosystem services they provide. To achieve this, it is essential to reverse and prevent land degradation, strengthen governance and institutions, promote sustainable investment practices, and harness nature-based solutions to adapt to climate change. By doing so, it will be possible to protect the remaining natural habitats in Africa and ensure they continue providing critical ecosystem services for future generations. 


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