• May 27th, 2019
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Africa’s biodiversity under serious pressure, says IPBES

Absalom Shigwedha

SHARM EL-SHEIKH – Unregulated conversion of forests, rangelands, and other natural areas such as wetlands are detrimental to Africa’s biodiversity, which provides essential goods and services to the people of the continent.
This information is contained in a just-released Regional Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Africa that was conducted by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) this year.

Distributed to delegates at the 14th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD Cop 14), which started in the Egyptian coastal resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh on Saturday, the report states that unregulated conversion of forests, rangelands, wetlands for food production, and urbanisation in Africa is taking place at a fast pace, due to the rapid transformation of African societies.

“Such conversion leads to habitat loss and fragmentation, degradation of water catchments and soil erosion, leading to loss of biodiversity and livelihoods”, said report. 

IPBES says the assessments’ key messages are that Africa’s natural assets are unique in that the continent’s extraordinary richness in biodiversity, and wealth of indigenous and local knowledge comprises a strategic asset for sustainable development in this part of the world.

“Africa is the last place on Earth with a significant assemblage of large mammals.  Africa has significant regional, sub-regional and national variations in biodiversity that reflect climate and physical differences, as well as the continent’s long and varied history of human interactions with the environment”, IPBES has found.

The report says Africa’s rich and diverse ecosystems generate flows of goods and services that are essential in providing for the continent’s food, water, energy, health and secure livelihoods needs. 

To support this statement, IPBES confirmed that more than 62 percent of Africa’s population depends directly on these services in rural areas, while urban and peri-urban population supplement their incomes, as well as their energy, medicine, and other essentials from ecosystem-based resources.

It has also been found that the full story of Africa’s endowment by nature is yet to be told; as a result, the true value of biodiversity’s contributions to human well-being is under-appreciated in decision-making processes.

This, according to the report, is because the study of nature’s contribution to people is still in its infancy. For instance, the number of published studies on the valuation of ecosystem services in Africa are relatively low.

IPBES reports that there are also some indirect drivers of biodiversity loss in Africa, which are attributed to factors such as population growth, inappropriate economic policies and technologies, poaching and illegal wildlife trade, and failure to address these underlying causes of biodiversity, which will continue to threaten or undermine efforts to protect biodiversity and improve the quality of life of the people of Africa through conservation, sustainable use, and equitable sharing of benefits from natural resources. 

“Africa’s current population of 1.25 billion is likely to double by 2050, putting severe pressure on the continent’s biodiversity and nature contributions to people, unless appropriate policies and strategies are adopted and effectively implemented’’, said the report. Because Africa is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, this global challenge is likely to result in significant losses of many African plant species and some animal species, and a decline in the productivity of fisheries in inland waters of Africa during the twenty-first century.

The report says that Africa’s marine and coastal environments are also of significant ecological and socio-economic importance to the content, and they are also an immense threat from human activities. 

The Regional Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Africa was carried out by 127 selected experts, including 7 early career fellows, assisted by 23 contributing authors, who were primarily from Africa, and have analysed a large body of knowledge, including about 2,400 scientific publications.

The assessment analyses the direct and underlying causes for the observed changes in biodiversity and in nature’s contribution to people. IPBES’s objective is to provide Governments, the private sector, and civil society with scientific credible and independent up-to-date assessments of available knowledge to make informed decisions at the local regional and international level.

IPBES is an inter-governmental body, which assesses the state of biodiversity and ecosystem services in response to requests from governments, the private sector, and the civil society. It has a collaborative partnership arrangement with the United Nations’ Environment Programme, United Nations, Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisations, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, and the United Nations Development Programme. 
IPBES’s Secretariat is hosted by the German Government, and it is located at the United Nations Camps in Bonn.

New Era Reporter
2018-11-20 09:54:41 6 months ago

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