Africa is working to protect biodiversity – Gatare

Francis Gatare, the Chief Executive of the Rwanda Mines, Gas and Petroleum Board (RMB). / File

African countries are working together to address issues related to biodiversity, despite the human-induced activities that are threatening life on earth, Francis Gatare, the Chief Executive of the Rwanda Mines, Gas and Petroleum Board (RMB) has said.

Biodiversity, which explains the variety of living species on earth, including plants, animals, bacteria, and fungi, has become a hot topic for environmental activists and experts across the world.

 

This is because Africa and the rest of the world is experiencing immense loss in biodiversity.

 

While Africa is immensely rich in biodiversity, Gatare said that is completely changing human livelihoods, with continuous decline in species and habitats due to population growth, and industrialization.

 

“The negative impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems are exacerbating the effects of the pressure,” he told participants in a virtual meeting organised by the Stockholm Environment Institute. 

However, he added, African countries are working collaboratively to address the issues associated with biodiversity conservation.

The significance of biodiversity can be understood by how we live.

The air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat all ultimately rely on biodiversity. Without plants there would be no oxygen and without bees to pollinate there would be no fruit or nuts.

It is basically everything that surrounds our nature, which makes the ecosystem of life on earth.

“Nature remains our single most important asset in Africa,” Wanjira Mathai, the Vice President and Regional Director for Africa at the World Resources Institute, said on Wednesday.

With the increasing loss in biodiversity, experts and environmental activists are scared the world could suffer sooner than later.

To give context, in the past four decades there has been a 60 per cent decline in the populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians, mostly in the tropics, according to the April Interim Report by Stockholm Environment Institute.

The estimated number of wild bee species worldwide has fallen from 6,700 in the 1950s to only 3,400 in the 2010s.

It is thought that one million animal and plant species (approximately 25 per cent) are threatened with extinction in most of the animal and plant groups that have been studied.

Current extinction rates are around 100 to 1,000 times higher than average over the past several million years – and they are accelerating.

How countries respond

Gatare highlighted that there is a growing number of active African universities and institutions that study, monitor and disseminate information on biodiversity.

This, he said, indicates improvements to the availability of biodiversity information. 

Rwanda has particularly established the National Centre of Excellence in Biodiversity, and the teaching of conservation and biodiversity in various universities across the content.

“With the improvement of many African economies, national and regional funding could increase in the future,” he noted, citing countries like Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Morocco and Rwanda which have reported plans to increase national funding.

Gatare also mentioned the Sabyinyo Community Livelihood Association (SACOLA) in the Northern Province, as one of the community-driven projects aimed at protecting biodiversity.

The project was initiated, among other things, to protect the Volcanoes National Park and it’s habitat against human activities and disease transmission from humans especially to gorillas.

“Moreover, awareness-raising activities, including a gorilla naming ceremony introduced in 2005, promote the safeguarding of the mountain gorilla and thus contribute to biodiversity conservation in protected areas,” he said.

This has allowed the mountain Gorilla population that was on the verge of extinction to grow.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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