11 Jul 2017 Story Ecosystems

Developing African landscapes for a better world

Simply by removing the flowers of an invasive species, researchers in Mali were able to drastically reduce local cases of malaria. The nectar of the plant, Prosopis juliflora, is an important source of food for mosquitoes. 

This research is just one example of how careful landscape management can have profound – and unexpected – impacts on human life.

Jo Lines, a malaria control expert from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, welcomed the research. "It appears to show that by changing the landscape, not using insecticides or drugs, we can make a difference," he said.

The African Landscapes Action Plan, developed in 2014 and endorsed by the African Union, is a blueprint for sustainable landscape management across Africa. It lays out 19 priority actions  ̶  under the themes of policy, governance, business, finance, research and capacity development  ̶  for food security, climate change resilience, and poverty alleviation. Implementing the plan will require broad coalitions, dedicated investments – and the active participation of Africa’s private sector. 

In March, the “African Landscapes Dialogue” brought together more than 100 farmers, researchers, policymakers, business and community leaders in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The Dialogue provided an opportunity to share lessons learned from integrated landscape management across Africa. This “landscape approach” takes into account all territorial, ecological and socio-economic aspects of land use, and is implemented in close consultation with concerned parties.

 

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Hilly savannah near the South African city of Pietermaritzburg, 2008 © Gossipguy

 

“Our people are becoming wealthier, healthier, and we are taking control of our continent’s future. As our nations develop, we realize there must be reconciliation between economic development and our environment,” said Gemedo Dale, Ethiopia’s minister of environment, forestry and climate change, speaking at the event.

“Integrated landscape management is important for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Louis Wertz of Landscapes for People, Food and Nature (LPFN), one of the organizers of the event. “Our paper Landscape Partnerships to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals helped amplify the calls for integrated land management within governments, and coordinate conservation, livelihoods and agricultural action at the ecosystem and landscape levels.”

In a report published in May, LPFN found that while most businesses have a major impact on landscapes, businesses were represented in only a quarter of the 428 large landscape partnerships documented in a series of surveys in Europe, South and Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa.
 

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Landscape in Lesotho, 2004 ©: Tjeerd Wiersma

 

Some ideas for action that emerged from the Dialogue

  • Get existing business learning networks to incorporate landscapes
  • Map African regional landscape initiatives so new efforts can build on and complement them
  • Institutionalize the national landscape learning network (Ethiopia)
  • Use forest and landscape restoration as an entry point for Plan implementation (Kenya)
  • Establish a Working Group on pastoralists and rangeland management
  • Recognize and support the role of women in integrated land management
  • Consider population growth, migration, and seasonal fluctuations that are critical to integrated land management
  • Encourage national governments to support integrated land management as a means of effectively implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Background

The Dialogue was organized by LPFN, under the leadership of the African Model Forests Network, EcoAgriculture Partners, Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network, NEPAD-TerrAfrica, Solidaridad Network, and Water and Land Resources Centre.

Financial support was provided by EcoAgriculture Partners, the Global Environment Facility, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Netherlands Ministry for Economic Affairs, Oxfam-Novib, SwedBio, Solidaridad Network, and the World Resources Institute.

For more information: Siham.Drissi[at]unep.org

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