Gabon Marine Protected Area Network

Gabon Marine Protected Area Network

Case Study by Austin Dever The Central African nation of Gabon is renowned for its pristine forests teeming with wildlife and protected by one of the finest national park systems in the region. Established in 2002, the nation’s thirteen national parks cover more than ten percent of Gabon’s total land area and provide sanctuary to the world’s largest remaining population of forest elephants, as well as gorillas, chimpanzees, mandrills, and numerous other species.            But far less known, and equally important, is Gabon’s efforts to protect the biodiversity of its oceans and coastline. In a November 2014 speech before the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Congress, Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba announced the creation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) network covering more than 46,000 square kilometers, or 23 percent, of his country’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).  Prior to the announcement, less than one percent of Gabon’s territorial waters had been designated for protection. President Bongo noted his nation’s extraordinary commitment would bring Gabon “near the 20 to 30 percent Member Login Username: Password: that marine biologists tell us is needed to maintain biodiversity and restore depleted areas outside parks.” Gabon’s ocean territory, part of the Congo Basin – Gulf of Guinea Seascape, is one of the world’s most fertile marine ecosystems. Mayumba National Park on Gabon’s southwest coast is home to beach-loving herds of forests elephants and buffalo. Farther north at Loango National Park, hippos ride the sea swell. The coast also shelters the world’s largest nesting population of leatherback sea turtles and the Atlantic Ocean’s largest...
Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area

Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area

Case Study by: Mike Eklund Many of the case studies for Nature Needs Half have involved an area within a defined political jurisdiction at the national, provincial or city level.  It is important to note however, that nature crosses borders and that an ecological region is often spread amongst many different political jurisdictions.  This is the case with NNH case studies  including the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation Area, the South Caucasus Eco-Region, and the Silk Road.  The most ambitious and the largest transfrontier conservation area in the world, however, is known as the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Area.  The Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) is situated in Southern Africa on the borders of five sovereign nation-states:  Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.  The process of the creation of this territory has evolved from two initiatives (the Okavango Upper Zambezi International Tourism Initiative and the “Four Corners” Transboundary Natural Resource Management Initiative) into the current Memorandum of Understanding signed by the five countries on December 7th, 2006.  The area is situated on the Okavango and Zambezi river basins and is the world’s largest TFCA, spanning an area of approximately 287,132km2 (110,862mi2), which is almost the size of Italy (300,979km2 or 116,208mi2) according to the KAZA TFCA Website.  The area includes 36 national parks, game management areas, game reserves, and community conservancies.  The most notable of these include Victoria Falls, the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, and the Caprivi Strip.  The area is one of the most ecologically rich places on the planet with an extremely high level of biodiversity.  It is home to the largest contiguous population of elephants on the African...
Mloti Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site

Mloti Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site

    By: Sonja Krueger, Guest Editor Introduction The Maloti Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site (MDP WHS) is situated in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of the Republic of South Africa and is part of the Drakensberg – an inland mountain range in south-eastern Africa (Figure 1). The Park is a national and international asset due to its unique natural and cultural values, and as such it has been listed as a World Heritage Site of dual significance, one of only 28 properties to be listed as such. It is dominated by a mountain range of unique origins, and has a diverse range of ecological niches resulting in a rich biodiversity and a high number of endemic species.  In addition, it is home to thousands of rock art paintings, a product of the San’s long historical relationship with this mountain environment. The Drakensberg catchment area is of major economic importance as it contributes significantly to the flow of the uThukela, uMkhomazi and uMzimkhulu Rivers, the three largest catchments in KwaZulu-Natal. It plays a key role in the economy of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa, through the production of high quality water from its dense network of wetlands and rivers (hence its designation as a Ramsar Site in 1996), the sustainable use of natural resources, and by serving as a core destination for the tourism industry. The Park forms a key component of the Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Project (MDTP), which has been initiated as a collaborative programme between the governments of the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa.  As part of achieving the transfrontier vision of the MDTP the Park...
Namibia

Namibia

Case Study by: Kelly Dusenbery Namibia’s system of protected/conservation priority areas with numerous types of ownership and management, and the ecological connectivity within this system, is one of the most impressive examples in the world of the Nature Needs Half vision. With the recent declaration of Dorob National Park in 2010, Namibia became the first and only country in the world to have its entire coastline under protection via a network of four National Parks.  The 1,500km long coastline now contributes to an impressive protected area network totaling about 42% of Namibia’s total land mass, not to mention a newly declared Marine Protected Area (MPA) accounting for an additional 12,000 km2. Namibia is a world leader in conservation through a determined and conscious effort to address development issues through nature conservation. This human/social aspect of Nature Needs Half is as important as is the protection of ecosystem services.  The country has emphasized the need for policies that support and maintain ecosystems, ecosystem processes, and biodiversity within their own constitution, and also recognizes the important connection between conservation and the livelihood of its citizens.  Their vision, as stated in the fourth National Report on the Convention on Biological Diversity, is to create a protected area network under different ownership and uses through collaborative and international management.  Namibia is well underway towards achieving this goal. Although 42% of Namibia’s total land mass is under some form of protection, the type of protection is varied.   While 17% of the protected area network is under state protection, an additional 18% are registered communal conservancies.  Communal conservancies are areas of land in which the...
Botswana

Botswana

Case Study by: Ceeanna Zulla Imagine an area in Africa that has never been forcibly colonized; an area home to the most mysterious combination of habitats—desert, in-land river delta, forests. With 45% of its land protected, Botswana represents what Nature Needs Half is all about. According to the 4th World Congress on National Parks and Protected Areas definition, 45% of Botswana’s land is protected. In Botswana, to be considered a protected area it must fall under the category of “an area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed through legal or other effective means.” Botswana’s protected land is divided between eight categories: National Parks, Game Reserves, Private Wildlife and Nature Reserves, Wildlife Management Areas, Forest Reserves, National Monuments, World Heritage Sites, and Ramsar Sites. Within these territories, controlled hunting is only authorized in Wildlife Management Areas (which also holds the biggest percentage of total land area; 24%). National Parks only hold 8% of total land area throughout the state. This protected land includes notable biodiversity located through the eastern part of the country to the Okavango Delta, Makgadikgadi Pans and the Chobe National Park. Most of the areas are largely diverse with plant, mammal and fish species but the Kalahari Xeric ecoregion is among the poorest nutrient areas in South Africa. 18% of this Savannah is protected but where the Kalahari Xeric is not protected, heavy grazing has negatively impacted the habitat. Although it has tremendously poor plant species, the Kalahari has a diverse group of large mammals such as the gemsbok, the...