There area number of common elements to the recommended
strategies and approaches for conserving and sustainably managing Africa's
natural resources, and a number of basic lessons from the, admittedly limited,
experience to date:
· The overall policy
and legal framework must be consistent with the conservation objective. For
example, local communities need to be authorized to participate in the
management and benefits of protected areas and the wildlife and other resources
they contain. Resistance to this concept remains strong in most of Sub-Saharan
Africa, as governments generally believe that benefits reaped from conservation
areas should accrue to all citizens. Compromises will have to be made. For
example, taxes can be levied on local community receipts from tourism, so that
benefits may be shared more widely.
· Social and institutional
factors constrain implementation of community-based conservation strategies. The
major problems are the general weakness of community organizations and the
vastly unequal distribution of authority between the national and local levels.
Most local communities in forest, range, and wilderness areas are poorly
organized and difficult to organize. Outside assistance is nearly always
· Only in a few cases can
protected areas be expected to generate sufficient revenues from nonexploitative
uses (such as ecotourism) to provide significant local income or to support
significant rural development. In most cases, external financing will be needed
on a long-term basis. The national and international communities must contribute
to the cost of maintaining the national and global heritage represented by the
areas being protected.
· Creation of an institutional
and management capacity in government is a difficult process. This is rarely, if
ever, the highest priority of governments; as a result, government agencies
charged with managing natural resources are usually neglected and financially
strained. Again, international assistance is essential.
In the absence of agricultural intensification outside the areas
to be protected, conservation efforts are bound to fait Only rapid gains in
output per unit of land will induce fast growing populations to stay out of the
remaining intact forests and other ecosystems that should remain undisturbed.
Conservation of biodiversity depends directly upon preservation
of natural habitats, particularly tropical primary moist forests which contain
the greatest diversity of species outside of certain marine environments.
Habitat destruction is the greatest cause of extinction of species overall For
species that are acutely endangered by commercial exploitation, additional
protection is needed in the form of controls on harvesting and on international
trade. Such controls can only be effective if the governments of both producing
and consuming countries are committed to enforcing them.
The single most important factor to ensure the preservation of
landbased natural ecosystems will be meeting the demand for food, wood, and
other agricultural and forest products on a sustainable basis. Soil and water
resources must be protected by protecting important watershedsby
maintaining natural forests and, where these are already degraded, by replanting
or allowing natural regeneration to take place The critical issue of meeting the
needs for woodfuels and timber must be addressed from both the production and
the demand side. While commercial logging of remaining primary moist forests
should be greatly reduced (if not banned entirely), because the available
evidence indicates that it cannot be sustainable, there must be a major increase
in resources for the sustainable production of fuelwood, lumber, and pulpwood.
This must come from farm forestry, as well as from plantations and well-managed
production forests located in areas where the original forest system has already
been substantially altered by logging. At the same time, energy conservation
must be promoted, both through economic policy measures such as appropriate
pricing and through the development and extension of technical innovations.
The most important element is agricultural intensification
outside of forests and wilderness areas. Without it, Africa's forests and
wilderness areas stand little, if any, chance of survival in the longer run. The
ultimate environmental collapse can be postponed by reducing the rate of
population growth. The preferred option combines maximum agricultural
intensification with sharply curtailing population growth and far more
determined and effective management of environmental