GDSA Welcomes Angola’s US$60m Commitment to Clear Landmines from Key National Parks

Elephants in a section of the Okavango that extends across parts of Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe © Jon McCormack

Elephants in a section of the Okavango that extends across parts of Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe © Jon McCormack

The Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) has welcomed the US$60 million commitment by GDSA Associate Member Angola to clear landmines in two key national parks that form part of southern Africa’s 520,000-square-kilometer biodiversity-rich Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA).

Angola’s Environment Minister Paula Francisco Coelho announced the five-year commitment on June 17 to clear minefields in Luengue-Luiana and Mavinga national parks in the country’s southeastern province of Cuando Cubango.

GDSA’s Executive Secretary Ruud Jansen said the move will enhance efforts to unlock significant ecotourism opportunities to benefit Angolans while supporting conservation and sustainable use of the region’s natural resources.

“The GDSA and Conservation International have recently started a natural capital mapping and fresh water health index assessment in the upper reaches of the Quito and Cuando river basins in Angola as part of our cooperation with the government of Angola, National Geographic Society, the Wild Bird Trust and other organizations.. We hope that this activation exercise will be extended to cover other parts of the Okavango Basin and the KAZA landscape,” he said.

 “Doing so would support further efforts of natural resource mapping, ecosystem management and restoration which will also support the development potential of Mavinga and Luengwe-Luiana National Parks for enhanced biodiversity and sustainable tourism.”

 Mr. Jansen said that the clearance of landmines holds he potential to re-establish a “wildlife corridor” between northern Botswana and southern Angola through the Namibian Caprivi strip and ease the elephant population pressure in Botswana while allowing enhanced anti-poaching efforts to minimize biodiversity loss in the region.

KAZA TFCA was set up in 2011 by Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe to manage the vast cross-border area through conservation and sustainable tourism while allowing wildlife, including elephants, to move freely across national frontiers.

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Making Progress in Liberia: Joint Mapping Natural Capital and Natural Capital Accounting Initiative Hosts Stakeholder Meeting

A landscape in Liberia. Photo © Rachel Neugarten

A landscape in Liberia. Photo © Rachel Neugarten

In December 2016, Conservation International (CI) held a one-day stakeholder workshop in Monrovia, Liberia to present the first findings from the joint project on Mapping Natural Capital and Natural Capital Accounting. This project is being conducted in partnership by Conservation International and the Liberian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the auspices of the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA). This was the third such meeting in 2016, the first of which was hosted by CI and the GDSA in March 2016 and the second hosted by CI in August 2016.

The workshop was well attended by a range of Liberian government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well at the Forestry Development Authority, Ministry of Finance and Development planning and the Ministry of Agriculture, civil society, and the private sector. Mr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh, a presidential advisor, was a special guest and shared remarks on how NCA could support Liberia’s sustainable development aspirations.

The workshop included presentations on several natural capital maps that provided a spatial perspective of Liberia’s biodiversity, forest carbon, and freshwater natural resources. Additional analyses were presented showing areas of high importance for coastal protection as well as preliminary analyses on pilot forest and timber accounts. The data needs and ‘next steps’ for potential coastal ecosystem accounts were discussed. 

Workshop participants expressed support for the early project outputs, noting that the information could help inform food security programming, natural resource management, and land use planning. The day ended with a brainstorming session on the way forward, focusing on a roadmap for future work on Natural Capital Accounting in Liberia. In support of this effort, stakeholder attendees provided commitments — both large and small — to facilitate ongoing progress.

In the coming months, CI and the EPA will publish a report once these preliminary mapping and accounting results are finalized, including a Map Atlas. More information about CI’s efforts on mapping natural capital and natural capital valuation can be found online. CI has been working in Liberia since 2002, supporting the government on initiatives including conservation agreements, sustainable development in the public and private sector, and conservation of key biodiversity areas.