Africa should become the conservation continent

27 July 2020 | Africa

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



Protecting 30% of the earth's surface by 2030 could result in greater economic opportunities for emerging economies such as those in Africa, including Namibia.

This is according to the recently released Waldron Report, which promotes and assesses the economic costs and benefits of setting aside 30% of the world's land and sea mass for protection.

The report, released by the Campaign for Nature, showed that by doing so, economies could gain up to US$454 billion a year by 2050. Currently, about 16% of the land and 7.4% of the ocean is, in areas, designated or proposed for protection, although only 2.5% of the ocean is highly/fully protected areas. This level of protection, the report said, is widely acknowledged as being inadequate to achieving protection goals.



Loss of biodiversity a threat

According to the World Economic Forum, losing different forms of living organisms on earth, known as biodiversity, could threaten the global economy.

The draft Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework therefore aims to increase the protected areas target from the current 17% to 30% by 2030.

It said that nature tourism is a major contributor to global GDP, estimated at contributing between US$344 billion and US$600 billion per year.

“The number of tourists to Africa is expected to double by 2030, with 80% of those visits driven by wildlife watching in the continent's nature sector.”

However, the report pointed out that due the coronavirus pandemic-related fall in travel, it might now delay the doubling date a few years.



Could harm agri, fishing

While some scientists have argued that this new target could damage economic gains for the agriculture and fisheries sectors, the global economy would benefit from wider conservation measures, it said. “Our financial analysis showed that expanding protected areas to 30% would generate higher overall output than non-expansion,” said the report. It added that there is also extensive research showing that nature tourism can suffer permanent losses in revenue flows if the protected area is not maintained in a high-quality state.

“For example, the poaching of elephants in under-resourced African parks has a detrimental effect on tourism worth NS$25 million per year.”



Sub-Saharan Africa

Currently, 17.7% of sub-Saharan Africa's land mass is protected, with large variances within the continent, from Namibia's 44%, Democratic Republic of Congo's 40.7% and Tanzania's 38.1% to South Africa's 8%, Somalia's 0.8% and Lesotho's 0.3%.

In Zambia, 37.9% of land mass is protected, while Zimbabwe (27.2%), Ethiopia (18.5%) and Kenya (12.4%) fall below the 30% mark.

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