Africa’s wildlife isn’t confined to national parks. Species here roam across vast and varied land, some portions of which are absolutely key to their survival. African Wildlife Foundation recognizes that without land, wildlife simply cannot survive. This is why land is at the core of our conservation efforts.
By working in large areas that cover entire countries and even span borders, we can support critically important landscapes that harbor biodiversity and offer people economic opportunities.
To ensure our conservation efforts move forward, we partner with governments, organizations, and communities, offering them incentives such as education, training in sustainable agriculture, and ecotourism in exchange for setting aside land.
One of the biggest challenges Africa faces is deforestation, which strips the soil of minerals, reduces water supply, and threatens food security in a region largely dependent on small-scale agriculture. It also contributes to climate change, which impacts our planet’s weather patterns. Currently, the deforestation rate in Africa is four times that of the world.
Meanwhile, as Africa modernizes, land clearance for agriculture, infrastructure developments such as pipes and roads, and resource extraction of aluminum and forest products contribute to the destruction of wildlife habitats.
These changes in land are degrading ecosystems, altering Africa’s forests and rivers, and dividing up historic wildlife migration corridors—thus, impacting the long-term survival of wildlife populations.
By working with governments and communities, AWF has helped develop conservation reserves right outside of national parks. These reserves, which set aside land for conservation and protect wildlife from poachers, extend migratory corridors for wildlife and help bring in additional income and benefits to communities through tourism.
AWF works closely with local communities to ask them how they use their land now and how they want to use it in the future. When communities get to be in the driver’s seat through this sort of planning, they tend to think more carefully about their natural resource use and are more likely to stay committed to the notion of conservation.
To reduce deforestation, AWF is promoting Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). REDD+ provides a new stream of income by letting communities “sell” the financial value of carbon stored in nearby forests to potential buyers looking to offset their carbon emissions. The program shows people that pristine forests have a real value and that they can generate income by being left alone.
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