Integrating biodiversity conservation crucial for healthy ecosystems

INTEGRATING biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation into development programming is important because healthy ecosystems underpin human well-being and economic development.

Land use plan is essential from primary levels, because climate change has huge impact on wildlife and leads to species loss. Threats to biodiversity continue to increase as adverse impacts of climate change exacerbate, which are likely to affect certain species related to particular ecological aspects of individual taxa, necessitating a species-based management approach.

Mr Joseph Olila, Landscape Planning  and Biodiversity Specialist, USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili Project disclosed that one of negative effects if proper plans are not put in place and used is ultimate water shortage. He was addressing journalists at a refresher and master training class coordinated by Journalists’ Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET) and sponsored by USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili Activity.

He noted that land use planning should observe commitments for improved land governance, including respect, protect and strengthen the land rights of women and men living in poverty recognise and protect the diverse tenure and production systems upon which people’s livelihoods depend.

Others are to respect and protect the inherent land and territorial rights of indigenous peoples, enable the role of local land users in territorial and ecosystem management and ensure that processes of decision-making over land are inclusive.

The expert noted that places that are known to hold water during dry seasons for large mammals no longer hold water in the said seasons.

“For instance, during the dry seasons in 2009 and 2015 water dependent animals especially hippopotamus and crocodiles were often found crowded in small and few remaining water ponds impairing their physiological functions and many times becoming easy target by poachers and predators,” he said.

Mr Olila was of the view that human-wildlife conflicts have become a common phenomenon to crop raiding, while wild animals roam around in search for pastures and water. The animals commonly involved in these conflicts, he said, are hippopotamus, elephants and buffaloes.

Biodiversity means the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.

Speaking on levels of planning, Mr Olila mentioned them as village land use plan, joint village land use plans, participatory district land use framework plan, with a possibility for landscape planning, zonal/landscape land use framework and national land use framework plan.

Mr Olila said the biggest tragedies for biodiversity are growing human population – 1.25 billion people, conflicts and wars in different regions in Africa, climate change and seasonal variations, growing and unplanned development, industries and infrastructure, high levels of poverty and rampant unplanned land use change.

Climate change means a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.

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