The African Wildlife Foundation ended the 20th century by ushering in sweeping changes that will transform the way wildlife and the wilderness are protected in Africa in the next century. The most far-reaching change is AWF's expansion of its focus to larger, biologically rich landscapes, where wildlife and people coexist. We call these regions African Heartlands.
Why this new direction? It has become clear to scientists that saving Africa's wildlife and wilderness requires action on a grander scale. Wildlife needs more space to find food and shelter and to reproduce than parks can provide. When wild animals roam beyond protected areas onto populated land, people have a greater incentive to protect them if they benefit from their presence.
An African Heartland is typically anchored by parks and reserves. These are linked to private and community lands where AWF and its partners support wildlife-friendly land use. To date AWF has worked with communities to set up wildlife-related businesses and with the private sector to establish compatible tourist operations.
In the Heartlands, AWF seeks ways to use wilderness areas more efficiently so both humans and wildlife can flourish; to conserve plants and animals indigenous to a particular ecosystem; and to encourage neighboring communities to take the reins of conservation management. More importantly, AWF counts on the knowledge and counsel of our African partners--experienced park wardens, eager young researchers, wise community elders.
The Heartlands program enables AWF to merge its work in wildlife and habitat conservation, training, research, economic development and community conservation into a more coherent whole. AWF's Nairobi-based Wildlife Enterprise Business Service, for example, are evolving into a "chain" of Conservation Service Centers that offer support not only on business concerns but on community development, law, natural-resource management and other areas.
AWF identified four Heartlands during the past year--Laikipia-Samburu, Tarangire-Manyara, Amboseli-Longido and the Greater Virungas. Increasingly AWF is working with partners in southern Africa while continuing to undertake projects elsewhere.
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