Biodiversity and development challenges in Africa
United Nations Environment Programme (Content Partner); Mark McGinley
(Topic Editor). 2007. "Biodiversity and development challenges in
Africa." In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland
(Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National
Council for Science and the Environment). Encyclopedia of Earth January 31, 2007.
Introduction: development challenges
The imperative to improve human well-being can place multiple and often competing demands on ecosystems. Difficult trade-offs may have to be made, for instance between the protection of habitat for biodiversity, and the transformation of ecosystems for human needs. Some ecosystem transformation is inevitable if the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be met, but the impact on biodiversity will depend on how development activities are carried out. Significant opportunities exist to generate wealth through activities that draw on environmental goods-and-services, and at the same time promote the conservation of these resources. These activities include a range of moderate intensity extractive uses, such as livestock or wildlife ranching, wild plant harvesting, lowimpact logging, and sustainable fisheries, as well as nonextractive uses, such as nature-based tourism and the exploitation of genetic resources.
As already discussed, despite significant environmental change, Africa still has a significant store of biodiversity. The key challenge in promoting sustainable natural resource use is to ensure that the rate of extraction (including the incidental damage caused during the harvest process) remains within the limits of sustainability. Strategies to ensure sustainability may rely on a combination of protection strategies including protected areas and conservation measures within "used-and-lived-in" spaces. Important challenges are how to:
* Determine the sustainable extraction rate and practices; and
* Establish and maintain institutions that are able to regulate natural resource use within the limits without placing undue constraints on their legitimate use.