Without buy-in from people, conservation efforts rarely work. Which was why, when AWF launched a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) project in north–central Tanzania with the Norwegian Embassy a few years ago, one of our main goals was to introduce residents to sustainable livelihood activities that would reduce their reliance on the forests.
Iyondji Community Bonobo Reserve (ICBR) was established at the request of the Iyondji community, who saw the benefits their neighbors were enjoying as the result of living alongside the Lomako Reserve—specifically job creation and income from tourism. Since then, ICBR has been managed by DRC’s wildlife authority, l’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), a valuable AWF partner.
For my third and final week in Tanzania, I had the privilege of spending time at the Manyara Ranch Conservancy. Previously owned by the Tanzanian government, the ranch was established by AWF in 2001 to address the threats of degradation and habitant fragmentation.
In many of our landscapes, it’s not unusual to come across an individual dressed in full traditional garb—with a cell phone clipped to his belt. On the one hand, this image is startlingly incongruous. On the other, it’s the embodiment of how this continent works: embracing its cultural history while also welcoming future innovations.