African experts call for new vision to guide protection of endangered species

The international community should rally behind a new vision to guide protection of endangered species including giant land mammals and migratory birds that inhabit Africa’s pristine biodiversity hotspots, experts have said .

Ken Mwathe, the Policy and Communications Coordinator at Birdlife International Africa, an international conservation group, said that halting the loss of rare species required a bold vision, commitment, and clear implementation timelines from key stakeholders including governments, industry, and donors.

During an interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the fourth meeting of the open-ended working group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework underway in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, Mwathe said that visionary leadership combined with sustained financing was key to curbing habitats’ depletion.

The envisioned global biodiversity framework holds the key to revitalized efforts to save iconic species from extinction due to unsustainable land-use practices and climate change, said Mwathe.

In particular, he called for a shift to nature-positive farming practices to halt the degradation of forests and wetlands that host rare species in Africa besides providing livelihood to indigenous communities.

Mwathe added that governments and industry had an obligation to invest in infrastructure projects that posed minimal threats to vital ecosystems in a continent grappling with climate change-induced vulnerabilities.

While noting that developing countries in Africa were losing wildlife corridors and key biodiversity areas at an alarming rate due to population pressure and haphazard development, Mwathe urged enforcement of laws and community engagement to reverse the trend.

International conservation groups attending the June 21-26 UN meeting in Nairobi to negotiate for a concrete global pact to halt biodiversity loss have pushed for increased financing to expand the acreage of land and ocean under protection to regenerate ecosystems, boost food security and rural incomes, said Mwathe.

“The global biodiversity framework is an important plan for saving biodiversity in the next ten years,” said Mwathe adding that flagship species like birds deserved special attention amid mounting threats.

He said that enhanced protection of Africa’s biodiversity hotspots including wildlife sanctuaries, wetlands, and tropical forests would secure a healthy, prosperous, and climate-resilient future for the next generation.

Mwathe challenged the international community to seize the moment and craft a framework that would transform the way communities relate with and utilize natural resources.

He added that the framework should set specific timelines for the recovery of lost species adding that governments should leverage science to promote the conservation of habitats.

Kenya is hosting a six-day forum convened by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) attended by policymakers, donors, scholars, and green advocates to negotiate for a new global pact to revitalize nature protection.

Yemisi Fawibe-Oke, Policy and Advocacy Manager with Nigerian Conservation Foundation said negotiators should come up with ambitious, coherent, and time-conscious targets to revitalize action on biodiversity loss.

“I expect that parties realize the urgency of action required to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and eliminate extinction by 2050,” said Fawibe-Oke, adding that a pragmatic approach was required to enhance the protection of rare species.

She added that resource mobilization combined with the elimination of harmful subsidies, awareness targeting policymakers, investors, and local communities should inform future efforts to enhance nature protection. ■