IFAW Applauds European Commission commitment to raise 5 billion Euros to fund Study on Sub-Saharan African Wildlife Conservation

©IFAW - archive photo
Monday, 30 November, 2015

The European Commission has today released a new report, hailed as the EU’s first integrated strategy across the breadth of sub-Saharan Africa with the aim to bridge the poverty-biodiversity nexus, marking a significant advancement on the EU’s previous support for biodiversity.

The event on the launch of this report is organised jointly with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, groups which contributed to the development of the report.

The study “Larger than elephants: inputs for an EU strategic approach for African wildlife conservation" has defined a holistic and detailed strategy for the next 10 years. This synthesis launched today will be followed in early 2016 by a detailed regional analysis (400 pages) which will identify what are likely to be the most realistic and effective strategic priorities for saving Africa’s wildlife heritage, given the rate of human population growth and associated habitat loss.

The strategic approach focuses on 77 “Key Landscapes for Conservation” which encompass large functioning ecosystems in landscapes that contain important protected areas and viable multi-resource use areas linking them.

The strategy also states that a comprehensive strategy against wildlife trafficking should also address the root causes of local poaching by developing a sustainable economy based on natural resources for the benefit of the poorest populations, and by improving the capacities of national authorities towards better governance. Protected areas in Africa, instead of being sources of conflict and insecurity for local people, can become a pole of development and stability.

Jason Bell, IFAW’s Elephant Programme Director said, “IFAW is pleased to have partnered with the Commission on this report. By placing the landscape and wildlife crime at the heart of this continent wide strategy, the European Union and its Member States have made a worthy attempt at bridging the poverty-biodiversity nexus.”

He went on to say, “IFAW’s landscape work in Amboseli proves conservation is not a zero-sum game between humans and elephants. By viewing elephant sufficiency as a pre-requisite for advancing human development, we not only cater for the immediate needs of humans, but assure their long-term development. This acknowledgment of resources competition and human elephant conflict provides for mitigation measures and livelihood interventions which result in greater protection for both humans and elephants.”

The European Union is already mobilising 700 million EUR until 2020 on this subject, but the total needs are estimated in this study to 5 billion.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Sonja Van-Tichelen, IFAW’s European Regional Director said, “This is the first time that the Commission (or any other donor) has developed such a detailed and comprehensive strategy. But a strategy is not enough. The European Member States must embrace this strategy, and establish a Trust Fund to fully implement its recommendations”.

This study provides very clear and concrete guidelines for implementing the external dimension of the EU Action Plan against wildlife trafficking that should be adopted early 2016 under the form of a Communication. A roadmap was published in August 2015 and the content of the Action Plan will be worked out in the coming months, led by DG ENV with the very active engagement notably of DGs HOME, DEVCO and the EEAS.


Notes to Editors

  • Co-authored by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and other major public and private stakeholders of the conservation world, this study is used by EU (but also by World Bank) for programming projects. Similar studies are on-going over Asia/Pacific and Latin America/Caribbean and can be the basement of a common collaboration.

Main results of the study

  • The pressure on land and natural resources in Africa has accelerated so rapidly in recent decades that the most intact assemblages of Africa’s wildlife are now largely confined to protected areas.  Protected Areas therefore have to be at the heart of any strategic approach to wildlife conservation.
  • African people living in wildlife-rich areas need to see tangible benefits from the preservation of Africa’s wildlife if they are to accept the costs of living with it and are to be able to continue using it sustainably.
  • The strategic approach that we have developed therefore focuses on a series of what we have termed “Key Landscapes for Conservation” which encompass large functioning ecosystems in landscapes that contain important protected areas and viable multi-resource use areas linking them. It is not be possible to protect wildlife everywhere on the continent so we have had to be pragmatic and prioritise the choice of landscapes on the basis of a series of criteria including species richness and endemism, presence of intact assemblages of iconic African wildlife, and the protection of ecosystem services.
  • A total of 77 Key Landscapes for Conservation have been identified, containing 350 protected areas and covering approximately 2.8million km². Over half of the areas span international borders which bring the additional advantage of sharing the cost of conservation and contributing to regional integration and security. The Greater Virunga Landscape, home to the rare mountain gorilla population shared by Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a particularly good illustration of this. Despite the three countries being in a state of armed conflict with each other for much of the past three decades all three countries have understood the immense value of this unique species and have collaborated to ensure that the population has risen steadily throughout this difficult period.   
  • Interventions in the landscapes will focus on both protected area management and sustainable livelihoods in the buffer zones around them. Where appropriate various forms of public private partnership will be promoted for the management of these areas. Through a more business-like and accountable approach it is anticipated that this type of partnership will enhance governance and conservation outcomes. Other important accompanying measures will include strengthening the policy and legal framework for user rights, institution building of agencies responsible for protected areas and resource management, and specific measures to tackle the unsustainable commercial trade in bush meat and fish. 
  • The document also outlines a series of specific measures aimed at closing down networks of wildlife criminals operating nationally and internationally. Trafficking of ivory and rhino horn is a particular concern, but a whole range of other species, including great apes, large cats, and birds will also be covered by these measures. A three-pronged approach will be used involving actions to: stop the killing, stop the trafficking and stop the demand.   
  • Although it is very difficult to make a precise assessment of the funds required to implement this strategic approach our estimates put the figure at between 400 and 500 million EUR annually. Currently the EU is mobilising about 100 million per year and individual European member countries are also making vitally important contributions. We hope that this document will provide the framework for a concerted and coordinated effort by all concerned parties to mobilise the necessary funds for this important work. We are also looking at innovative financing mechanisms such as public private partnerships and trust funds as a way of ensuring sustainable funding streams.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are available at www.ifawimages.com

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