Biological diversity or Biodiversity: the variability among living organisms in 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.
The key biodiversity of the Transboundary Demonstration Sites
Across the Horn of Africa are some of the most diverse, beautiful and wildlife-rich ecosystems on the continent. These areas are often remote, and in many cases their inaccessibility has proven to be a key factor in their preservation. Communities living in and around these landscapes and seascapes depend very substantially on the natural resources around them to sustain their livelihoods.
Agriculture and grazing systems are intensifying to provide for an increasing population is augmenting pressure on often fragile lands and traditional resource management institutions cannot easily accommodate the new demands. Climate change is exacerbating water scarcity in some areas and seasons, and flooding in others. External interventions, such as large scale infrastructure development, commercial agricultural investment and discovery of oil and gas threaten to fragment these ecosystems. Two out of three of the demonstration sites are also conflict zones - characterised by sporadic outbreaks of violence, and movement of refugees, complicating the immediate protection and longer-term management of these landscapes.
The Boma - Gambella transboundary landscape is home to a number of large mammals: Elephant (Loxodonta africana), Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), Buffalo (Syncerus caffer), Lion (Panthera leo), Tiang and Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex). An estimated population of some 1.5 million White-Eared Kob (Kobus kob leucotis) migrate annually between Ethiopia and South Sudan - one of the key factors that justify a transboundary approach. The Gambella National Park was proposed primarily to protect its outstanding biodiversity and important wetland habitats, and to protect two large mammal species - the White eared kob and the Nile Lechwe. The Nile Lechwe is endemic to the Sudd in South Sudan and the Duma Wetland in Gambella, and is listed as "endangered" on the IUCN Red List.
The Tana Kipini Lag Badana Bush Bushle transboundary landscape is home to the critically endangered "Hirola" (Beatregus hunteri), and also hosts Elephant, Buffalo, Giraffe, among many other species. The Boni National Reserve and Dodori National Reserve lie on the north-east coast of Kenya near the Kenya-Somalia border. These two sites have been recognised for the conservation of biodiversity of global importance by being listed with the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forest of Biodiversity Hotspot for containing endemic and globally threatened biodiversity. The two forests have also become very important for the conservation of globally threatened mammal species. such as the critically endangered Ader's Duiker Cephalophus adersi). Sightings of the endangered Wild dog (Lycaon pictus) and the endangered Hirola (Beatraus hunteri) have been recorded in the past. The East-African Coastal Forest found along the length of Tana Kipini site is some of the richest habitat in the world for endemic plant species, and is also one of the most threatened. It is home to species such as Euphorbia tanaensis - a critically endangered tree found only in the Witu Forest Reserve where there are only 20 mature plants.
The Lac Abbé transboundary Landscape is home to Dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas), Gerenuk (Litocranius walleri), Dik Dik (Madoqua saltiana), Arabian Bustard (Ardeotis arabs), Somali Ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes), and the Eritrean Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus), among others. Lac Abbé has been designated as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International in recognition of the resident and migrant water bird population it supports, including large populations of Lesser Flamingos (Phoenicopterus minor). Baseline surveys conducted under the IGAD BMP in December 2014 recorded approximately 100,000 Lesser Flamingos at the Lake, an unexpectedly high number in comparison with previous surveys. In total 141 species of birds, 28 species of mammals and 49 plant species were recorded during the survey.
What is the IGAD BMP doing to strengthen transboundary conservation?
Through the work of the Implementing Partners on the ground and IGAD BMP's support at the regional level, the Programme is aiming to strengthen the institutional capacities for management and conservation of cross-border biodiversity land and seascapes. It is doing this by:
- putting in place Transboundary Steering Committees that include representatives of all key stakeholders to coordinate transboundary efforts.
- preparing proposals for the establishment of trans-boundary networks of state / community managed conservation areas for submission to the relevant local and national institutions for approval
- supporting the establishment and efficient management of Protected Areas and/or Community Conservation Areas.
- supporting the development of enterprises based on ecosystem goods and services that will generate benefits to local stakeholders.
- supporting national and regional training sessions for local CSOs, NGOs and government environmental protection agencies to improve stakeholders' ability to implement conservation strategies and action plans.