To harbour resilience against climate change impacts, we first have to look after the very system that sustains life on Earth: nature.
People need nature for survival. To reduce the impacts of climate change such as drought, flooding and famine, while maintaining healthy ecosystem services to provide food security, and clean water and air, experts say that 30% of the planet must be protected. Africa harbours 25% of the world’s biodiversity, but it’s also estimated that the continent’s population will increase three times by 2100.
Coupled with the impacts of climate change, weak governance, and lack of funding most of Africa’s existing protected areas and national parks that harbour rich biodiversity are severely under-resourced.
We urgently need to act to protect nature to ensure resilience against climate change effects, stem socio-political instability and ensure the survival of all life on Earth.
The most effective solution we have to reduce extreme weather events and ensure human and wildlife survival is to protect and conserve the natural systems that still exist.
Protecting nature that is still intact costs an average of US$6/ha per year, compared to US$1,500/ha to restore ecosystems that have been destroyed. Not only is biodiversity protection more cost effective, it is also a lot quicker than restoring nature to the level of providing a full suite of vital ecosystem services.
African Parks has identified 161 protected areas in Africa that harbour significant biodiversity, sequester carbon, deliver clean air and water, and provide food security for people.
These 161 areas represent nearly a quarter of the total size of all protected areas in Africa. When these areas are effectively managed, they become the foundation for protecting and restoring the broader landscape. This provides functioning ecosystem services and stability from which communities can benefit.
With over 20 million hectares of protected area under its management, African Parks has shown that if holistically managed, nature creates a foundation for thriving ecosystems, stability and wellbeing for both people and wildlife. Together with biodiversity conservation, sustainable economic development, community engagement and education, African Parks’ mission is to ensure that each park it manages is ecologically, socially and financially sustainable for the long-term.