Sunday, December 5, 2021

Botswana’s prudent biodiversity track record key to equitable mineral wealth distribution

Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS) Chairman Neo Moroka says Botswana’s international record on prudent natural resources management is further accentuated by the equitable distribution of mineral revenues, in particular, diamonds, for economic development.

Giving welcome remarks during the KCS Annual Gala Dinner Dance under the theme: “Promoting Sustainable Mining for Future Generations,” held in Gaborone on October 9th, Moroka said the creation of sanctuaries for some of the wildlife endangered species such as the rhino at the Orapa Game Park, courtesy of the Debswana Diamond Company (DDC) in response to pleas from risk-averse regional countries where rampant poaching is threatening wildlife extinction, also underscore Botswana’s international biodiversity conservation best practice track record.

According to the visionary KCS Chairman, “DDC’s provision of the rhino sanctuary clearly shows the need for government-private-partnership’s in this conservation matrix. Succinctly put, government alone cannot shoulder the responsibility for the protection of our natural resources. But, the burden should be shared among all players, especially the private sector.

“The 2015 theme emphasises the pressing need for sustainable and responsible mining, sustaining neighbouring communities livelihoods even during the post-mining phase.”

Moroka said DDC and the De Beers Group, Botswana’s major mining companies have within their operational jurisdictions reserved space such as Jwana and Orapa Game Parks at Jwaneng and Orapa, respectively, for tremendous tourism business opportunities through the promotion and sustainable utilization of renewable and non-renewable wildlife resources.

Guest speaker DDC Managing Director Balisi Bonyongo said the global community recently adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for implementation as the global development agenda (GDA) post  2015 until 2030 to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As DDC’s conservation and environmental protection initiatives support GDA, the Group’s commitment of Zero Net Loss of Biodiversity (ZNLB) will empower it to take seriously the responsibility to manage and minimise the impact of mining operations on the environment.

 

The DDC MD stated: “We have set aside more than 65,000 hectares of game parks around our mining lease areas in Jwaneng, Orapa and Morupule for conservation and providing refuge for a diversity of endangered wildlife species. For instance, Orapa’s ambitious ongoing game park project extension should provide suitable refuge for its animal population. Orapa Game Park’s growing white rhino population, has transformed it into a strategic rhino conservation centres in Botswana and Southern Africa as well.

 

“We appreciate President Khama’s and other stakeholders’ support including the Government to protect these endangered species.”

 

DDC also partnered with KCS in the late 90’s on  a project that bolstered biodiversity enrichment efforts in the region by protecting many fish species. This partnership gave birth to the Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre (HOORC), now the University of Botswana Maun Campus.

 

“DDC has worked with partners such as the Mokolodi Nature Reserve, Nata Sanctuary, Moremi Gorge and the Khama Rhino Sanctuary. Together with Moremi Gorge, we trans-located animals from the Jwana Game Park to Goo-Moremi, helping with the establishment of a local conservation area.

 

“We have extended conservation efforts to cultural heritage under the Diamond Trust together with De Beers. Over the past five years, we have supported the P10 million Tsodilo Community Development Trust to build a sustainable eco-tourism business, which is generating income auguring well for the sustainability of the project. In June 2015, the Diamond Trust approved funding for the second phase of the project.

Across the global mining spectrum, policy and legislative frameworks minimise risks disturbing land geomorphology and disrupting ecosystems. Since Debswana’s mining areas are also rich in biodiversity, mineral extraction should prioritise prudent conserving the environment.

During the past decade overall growth in commodities and natural resources demand, in the wake of the volatile global economic environment and mining companies have been operating in an increasingly challenging environment. 

Planning for life-post-closure involving restoring the natural environment to develop alternative livelihoods away from a mining dependent economy within mining operational areas in conjunction with local authorities and communities should be a strategic priority. The conscience of business lies in reigning in Planet Earth’s untenable consumption all in the quest of satisfying the needs of today’s generation, for future generations.

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