As building blocks for protecting critical wildlife habitats, national parks, reserves, and other protected areas are ecological havens and recognized for their contributions to poverty alleviation, water security, and carbon sequestration. They also provide opportunities for economic development and disaster risk reduction as well as a means of delivering nature-based solutions to climate change. And while recent reports from Africa highlight the strides that African governments have made in designating protected areas, there remain challenges.
Youth are the largest demographic on the African continent — more than 75 percent of the total population is under 35 years. The priorities and behaviors of Africans between age 18-35 must shape the way Africa develops as this group remains vulnerable to risks from sociopolitical instability and the ongoing climate crisis.
For generations, hunter-gatherers have used the trees and plants in Cameroon’s dense tropical forests to sustain their community. Like many indigenous people around the world, their relationship with these biodiversity-rich forests is not exploitative. In the villages neighboring the Dja Biosphere Reserve in south-eastern Cameroon, women are using their ancient botanical knowledge to build sustainable enterprises from non-timber forest products.
In many countries across the continent, development decisions on infrastructure expansion and extractive industries tend to pit economic growth against nature. It seems that the only way for Africa to reach its potential is to lose its flora and fauna or destroy important ecosystems. But this is a false choice — Africa will not develop sustainably without conservation and conservation will not be sustained without development. There are no winners when only one side gets investment.
The “big tusker” known as Mountain Bull weighed six tons but his size was nothing compared to his stubbornness. Born in Kenya, he was notorious for trampling fields, knocking down fences, and raiding crops as he traveled along age-old migration routes.