Botswana has dedicated an excess of 40 per cent land area for conservation in form of forest reserves, wildlife parks and management areas.
The deputy Permanent Secretary in the Environment Ministry, Felix Monggae said these contribute significantly to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through tourism and spin off activities to other sectors.
“A significant national budget has been dedicated to biodiversity conservation in Botswana; with an average annual budget of P238, 354, 730 for Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) and P90, 104,610 for the Department of Forestry and Range resources (DFRR),” he said
He highlighted that the country has also dedicated funds for environmental management and sustainable development; that is, the National Environment Fund (NEF), which was established in 2010, the Forest Conservation Botswana (FCB); which disbursed excess of P80 million to cover 50 environmental projects to date.
“The country has developed ecosystems management plans for areas significant for biodiversity conservation and livelihoods sustainability, and these include; the Okavango Delta Management Plan (ODMP) and the Makgadikgadi Framework Management Plan (MFMP), whose objective is; “to conserve the natural resources of the areas and promote sustainable utilization of these resources for the improvement of communities’ livelihoods.”
Monggae, who is also FCB Board Chairperson, said Botswana encompasses seven of the global eco-regions; and all, with the exception of the Southern African bush veldt are reasonably well protected. He said, “Botswana’s ecosystems support a variety and abundance of mammals 157 species, 587 bird species, including 25 which are globally threatened; 99 fish species recorded in Botswana, two of which are susceptible to fishing pressure, 13 endemic plant species, 10 potentially endemic and seven near endemic plant species. There are a number of threats; and 43 plant species are listed as threatened.” These, he said include: overharvesting of medicinal or economically valuable plants; alien invasive species of aquatic and terrestrial plants; development and land conversion and a combination of high frequency of fires together with high densities of elephants; in some.
At continent level, Monggae said elephants population reduced from 508 325 in 2006 to 415 428 in 2015. The decline is attributed to a major decline in Eastern Africa elephant population which decreased by half over the same period. The comparatively small populations of West and Central Africa observed growth over same period. For Botswana, a significant population increased over the same period according to census results.
Botswana has developed partners for environmental upkeep and sustainable development; like the UN agencies-United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Conservation International (CI), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other governments. The government has also taken deliberate teps to implement dedicated programs for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
“Botswana received an excess of BWP 300 million to date from the GEF and some projects undertaken include; Sustainable Land Management Programmes, Biodiversity Conservation, combating of Land Degradation and Climate Change mitigation; Domestication of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources as well as Mapping of Biodiversity priorities,” he said
He buttressed that Southern African region contains remarkable species richness and diversity.
“Successful conservation and sustainable use of the biological resources of the region depends on trans-boundary cooperation between Member States and beyond,” he said.