ABCG LRTR On going deforestation of Namwai Forest Reserve in Ihenga Village Tanzania

Supporting Communities in Tanzania Adapt to Climate Change through Forest Restoration

ABCG LRTR On going deforestation of Namwai Forest Reserve in Ihenga Village Tanzania

Africa is thought to be the most vulnerable continent to climate change given its predominately climate-dependent livelihoods, extensive water-stressed populations, and low adaptive capacity. Weak economies, institutions, and governance structures all contribute to the low adaptive capacity. Human activities have been a leading cause of climate change through activities such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation. Among the major climate change impacts include variations in rainfall patterns, extreme weather, habitat loss, and new disease challenges.

Climate change has direct impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity, but may also indirectly impact nature through human adaptation responses which are less understood. Through its Managing Global Change Impacts working group, the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) has surveyed coping responses of human communities to climate change in 10 African countries as well as the biodiversity impacts of those responses.

A survey by ABCG in Tanzania revealed that communities are experiencing hotter, drier, windier, and unpredictable seasonality due to climate change. ABCG member, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), led the survey in Tanzania’s Kilombero Valley, an internationally significant biodiversity area in 2017. AWF interviewed key informants who were able to offer an overview of community circumstances across the valley. Findings from the survey revealed that many communities responses to climate change are having a negative impact on biodiversity compounding the global crisis.

Located in the southern part of Tanzania, the Kilombero Valley is an important ecosystem supporting the livelihoods of the local communities living in the area and other parts of the country. The valley sustains a vibrant agricultural sector, is home to a Ramsar site, and separates the Selous Game Reserve and the largest block of Eastern Arc Mountains which features several protected areas.

Climate observations and livelihood impacts

Community members cited significant climate impacts on their livelihoods including extensive crop failures due to lack of water, increased human-wildlife conflict from crop-raiding by wildlife, an increased prevalence of diseases in humans and livestock, and decreased fish harvests.

Impacts on biodiversity

To cope with these climate-induced changes, communities are clearing natural areas to expand cropland in a bid to increase their harvest, overgrazing areas with their livestock, and illegally hunting wildlife. Collectively these responses are having undesirable impacts on biodiversity particularly due to agriculture expansion into previously natural areas. A study published in 2019 that analysed the land cover changes of the Kilombero Valley in the last 30 years found that at least 60% of Kilombero Valley wetlands have been converted to cultivated land. Local wildlife populations such as the endangered and endemic puku are declining as their habitat is reduced or degraded and they face heightened hunting pressure. The valley has experienced an overall decline in wildlife abundance and diversity.

Nature plays a crucial role in providing essential goods and service to humanity. From food provision, timber, tourism, to delivering water for hydropower. Efforts that would support to restore and preserve the rich biodiversity of the Kilombero Valley through supporting communities in stopping practices that contribute to its degradation are important in securing and preserving the health of the valley.

Promoting alternative response

ABCG GCI reforestation activity in Mngeta Valley Tanzania organized the African Wildlife Foundation and the Tanzania Forest Working Group Community members participating in the reforestation activity in Mngeta Valley, Tanzania, organized by the African Wildlife Foundation and the Tanzania Forest Working Group

In 2019, AWF and partners organized community meetings to discuss the survey findings and formulate alternative but effective responses to climate change that will not have negative impacts on biodiversity. A forest restoration assessment performed by AWF and partners identified 38,656 ha of degraded areas in Kilombero’s Mngeta Valley suited to methods such as agroforestry, reforestation, afforestation, natural regeneration and riparian rehabilitation.

Guided by the assessment, AWF and the Tanzania Forest Working Group launched a reforestation activity targeting 1500 hectares involving communities in the Mngeta Valley in February 2020 where 22,347 tree seedlings were planted. Another 35,000 seedlings are yet to planted later in 2020. The reforested area will improve water provisioning to support agriculture and other activities while helping to reestablish ecological connectivity between the Kilombero Nature Reserve and Uzungwa Nature Forest Reserve where the valley lies.

The loss and destruction of natural habitat has been on the rise over the last decades. ABCG is working to stop this destruction by working together with the communities to develop interventions that would support them cope with climate change without affecting biodiversity.

For more information contact:

Related resources

For more information about the ABCG Global Change Impact work: Why its Important to Understand the effects of Humans Comping Responses to Climate Change on Nature

Climate change survey country reports: Climate Crowd 

Status of Land Use Planning, Land Tenure and Biodiversity Conservation: A Focus of Udzungwa-Magombera-Selous Landscape and Mngeta Corridor in Kilombero District


The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) is a consortium of seven international conservation non-governmental organizations (NGOs): African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Conservation International (CI), the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). ABCG is supported by USAID to advance understanding of critical conservation challenges and their solutions in sub-Saharan Africa.

African Elephant pcredit Nikhil Advani

Enhancing Nature Protection in times COVID-19 Pandemic News Roundup

African Elephant pcredit Nikhil AdvaniOn April 22, 2020 the world celebrated Earth day, marking its 50th anniversary. The event reminded us the great task that we have as humanity of protecting our environment. This year’s celebrations come at a point in time when the world is fighting the effects of Corona virus, a global pandemic that has demonstrated how our survival on earth is very much dependent on how we take care of our planet. Scientists further warn that future pandemics could even be deadlier if we don’t take action now and protect our environment.

This news round is a compilation of insights and opinion pieces on the importance of nature protection amidst the pandemic shared by experts working in ABCG member organizations and other partners.

Veld Sanitation guide developed by Conservation South Africa to link conservation and WASH behaviorsOne of the assured ways for protecting ourselves against the pandemic is through proper hand washing and sanitation. Two ABCG’s FW-WASH task members from Conservation International, working on activities to integrate freshwater conservation (FW) and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) so as to improve both conservation and human health outcomes, reflect on the current pandemic and their work.

News Roundup

Time to renew the relationship between people and nature
Earth Day comes at a time when we are in the midst of the COVID-19 global health crisis that has infected over 2.5 million people and killed over 175,000 people worldwide. Today’s health crisis highlights the urgent need for an in-depth reflection on the relationship between human beings and nature, the risks associated with current economic development pathways, and how we can better protect ourselves and enhance our resilience to future pandemics. Today on Earth Day, we call on African leaders to come together to secure a New Deal for Nature and People that prioritises a coordinated approach across human and environmental health. Source, medium.

Conservation in crisis: ecotourism collapse threatens communities and wildlife
From the vast plains of the Masai Mara in Kenya to the delicate corals of the Aldabra atoll in the Seychelles, conservation work to protect some of the world’s most important ecosystems is facing crisis following a collapse in ecotourism during the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, scientists have repeatedly urged humanity to reset its relationship with nature or suffer worse outbreaks. But the economic consequences of the Covid-19 lockdown have raised fears of a surge in poaching, illegal fishing and deforestation in life-sustaining ecosystems, with tens of thousands of jobs in the ecotourism sector at risk around the world. Source, the guardian.

To prevent the next pandemic, we must transform our relationship with nature
The transmission of zoonotic diseases from animals to humans has long been recognised as a serious threat by global health experts. Studies show that 75% of all emerging diseases come from wildlife, with recent years witnessing the emergence of SARS (from civet cats), MERS (from dromedary camels) and Ebola. In order to prevent the next pandemic, then, it is crucial that we greatly reduce the opportunities for viruses to jump from animals to people. First and foremost, the loss and degradation of natural habitats must be recognised as a key driver of emerging infectious diseases from wildlife. Source, medium.

Conservationists fear African animal poaching will increase during COVID-19 pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted tourism the globe over, grounding travelers and shutting down nonessential businesses. For Matt Brown of the Nature Conservancy, that spells trouble for the wildlife the environmental organization works to protect. Until now, tourism was on the rise in Africa. Some 67 million tourists visited Africa in 2018, up 7% from the year before, according to the World Tourism Organization’s latest international tourism report. But in recent weeks, tourism — along with life as hundreds of millions of people know it — has ground to a halt across Africa. Source, abcnews.

Quarantining also means caring for our great ape relatives
Gorillas and other great apes are particularly susceptible to pathogens from humans, and the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 poses a very serious risk to their survival. Protecting our closest wild relatives and closing wildlife markets for human consumption are both critical steps towards ensuring healthy futures for all, writes Elizabeth L. Bennett, Vice President for Species Conservation, Wildlife Conservation Society. Source, IUCN.

Students at Karongo Primary school washing their hands at the newly installed water tank at their school

Coronavirus Drives Home the Importance of Hand Washing – ABCG’s Steering Committee Member Janet Edmond

Students at Karongo Primary school washing their hands at the newly installed water tank at their school‘Since I was in kindergarten in the little red schoolhouse in coastal Rhode Island, I have received handwashing messages in many forms – upbeat songs, large placards near sinks, and stern warnings from parents and grandparents. Flash forward to today, with repeated handwashing messages to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 reinforcing in my mind the fundamental links between personal hygiene, human health and clean water.

‘Coronavirus drives home the importance of hand washing as essential for protecting human health. We take for granted that many communities around the world can’t simply turn on a tap to practice good hygiene. According the UN, 2.2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and 4.2 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services. Worldwide, two in five people do not have a basic handwashing facility with soap and water at home.

‘Conservation International (CI) works to spotlight and secure the critical benefits that nature provides to humanity. We recognize that reliable access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) is foundational to achieving our conservation mission. If communities lack WASH, how can they find the time and energy and good health required for environmental stewardship?

‘Since 2010, at CI we have been pushing ourselves and peers in the conservation and human development sectors to connect WASH and watershed conservation. We are driven by a theory of change in which watershed conservation and WASH efforts not only reinforce each other, but their sustained success hinges on their mutual dependence.

‘CI is moving from theory to action through engagement with individual community members up through district and national planners and policymakers.

‘As its name suggests, our WASH in Watersheds (WiW) program integrates WASH and watershed conservation, with a focus on how CI can engage local communities as land and water stewards and achieve more effective and long-lasting conservation and health and well-being outcomes as a result.

CI efforts to date include:

  1. Promoting more cross-sectoral planning at community and watershed scales: With support from the US Agency for International Development-funded Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG), CI answered the call for improved integrated programming with guidelines. We have built effective and practical field-level experiences through tested approaches in South Africa and shared lessons learned with our colleagues at the Jane Goodall Institute, who are promoting improved WASH and conservation measures in the Albertine Rift in Uganda. CI leads the ABCG working group on freshwater conservation and WASH.
  2. Proving the WiW theory of change in critical watersheds and water-scarce areas: Since 2011, Conservation South Africa (CSA), the local in-country affiliate of CI, has implemented the WiW framework in the Eastern Cape’s upper uMzimvubu River Basin, to improve water resource sustainability and climate change resilience. One of the main lessons learned from this work is that WASH activities create incentives and co-benefits for conservation in communities. The initiative included a gender analysis report identifying the different ways in which men and women community members should be engaged around sanitation and hygiene activities.
  3. Advocating for improved policy at municipal and district levels: CI and CSA are designing a roadmap for advocacy in the Mzimvubu basin. Building on existing relationships in this landscape, CSA is influencing key stakeholders and local government in adopting best practices and in developing appropriate policies. Together with fellow ABCG member The Jane Goodall Institute and WASH partner IRC, CSA is demonstrating how local-level policy mechanisms can lead to replicable models for scale-up of integrated freshwater conservation and WASH programming.
  4. Highlighting the ABCG Community of Practice recommendations to examine threats to freshwater conservation in Africa: On February 25, 2020, the Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Society Network (KEWASNET) and ABCG hosted a dialogue called, “Rapid Urbanization, Infrastructure Development, and Water Conservation in Kenya,” in Nairobi, Kenya. Participants from the public, private and civil society sectors, as well as university students, called on African policymakers to prioritize freshwater conservation as a top development priority in national and regional plans.

‘Over the coming months, CI and partners will be expanding our WiW work to include lessons learned and best practices in more of our in-country demonstration sites, creating tools for engaging all levels of government to adopt an integrated view of water resources, and examining the human health aspects of handwashing and good hygiene as a fundamental component watershed conservation.

‘When I was little, I never imagined how much handwashing would play a role in my work. CI is committed to fostering approaches that meet basic human needs as enabling factors for ecosystem and human health. On this World Water Day, we look for opportunities like this to come together to care for nature and ourselves.

Read the original article by Janet Edmond, WASH and Watershed Conservation go hand in hand, published in the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy News, Mar 22, 2020.

About the author

Janet Edmond is Senior Director, Inclusive Partnerships for Sustainable Conservation, at Conservation International (CI). She has worked on the social components of conservation and human well-being, including helping to build CI’s rights-based approach. Janet works to foster effective partnerships with health and development NGOs, promote transparent and transformative stakeholder engagement and address conflict in environmental management. She has more than 25 years of experience in development and conservation, with a focus on linking human health and ecosystem health. Janet is also ABCG’s Steering Committee member from CI.  

Photo description: Students at Karongo Primary school washing their hands at the newly installed water tank at their school. Photo credit: JGI

2019 Frankfurt Zoological Society Brownbag Banner Image

Get Up to Speed On These Innovative Biodiversity Conservation Approaches and Solutions

2019 Frankfurt Zoological Society Brownbag Banner Image

One of our key goals at ABCG is to encourage the exchange of information and knowledge among stakeholders while providing an opportunity for technical experts to connect and engage.

In 2019, we co-hosted 11 brown bag presentations and events on diverse and critical topics on biodiversity conservation. The topics ranged from family planning and conservation, illegal wildlife trade, the conservation of rhinos in various parts of Africa, innovative conservation initiatives such as Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) and First Line of Defence against Illegal Wildlife Trade (FLoD) and innovative approaches for engaging local communities in conservation.

We have summarized these presentations and made available the webinar recordings on the ABCG website. Here is a listing of the events:

  1. Healthy People Healthier Planet – Why Family Planning is Relevant to Conservation, by Giulia Besana, The Nature Conservancy
  2. Local Communities: First Line of Defense against Illegal Wildlife Trade (FLoD), by Holly Dublin and Akshay Vishwanath, IUCN 
  3. Rhino Conservation Forum: A Private Screening and Panel Discussions Forum 
  4. Engaging local community in sustaining the large population of elephants in Tsavo-Mkomazi Landscap, by Kenneth Kimitei & George Okwaro, African Wildlife Foundation 
  5. Black Rhinos of the Serengeti: A Success Story for Tanzania by Rian Labuschagne, FZS- Serengeti Conservation Program 
  6. Conservation Through the Eyes of Communities: An Innovative Approach to Community-Led Conservation in Northern Kenya, by Tom Lalampaa, Northern Rangelands Trust
  7. Cranes: Flagships for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods in Africa, by Richard Beilfuss, International Crane Foundation 
  8. The African rhino situation: Is it getting better? by Michael Knight, World Wildlife Fund 
  9. Establishing Wildlife Crime Units to Boost the Fight Against Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade in the Congo Basin, by Alain Ononino, World Wide Fund 
  10. Conservation International’s Virtual reality film ‘My Africa’ & From conflict to coexistence: How peace and security underpin conservation in Northern Kenya, by Matthew Lewis, Conservation International 
  11. SMART: Improving Effectiveness of Protected Areas Globally, by Drew T. Cronin, Program Manager, SMART Partnership 

The protection of our environment requires a coordinated approach and an important step in this is through information and knowledge sharing. To participate as a featured speaker, please contact Evelyn Namvua at and view the Guidelines to Speakers here.

Madagascar countryside

Recommendations for Policymakers from The African Landscapes Dialogue in Arusha

Madagascar countryside

In November 2019, ABCG together with other organizations supported to host the African Landscapes Dialogue that was held in Arusha Tanzania. The dialogue brought together 136 landscape leaders from 18 sub-Saharan countries implementing different initiatives in the landscapes to share knowledge, experiences and lessons on the integrated landscape management approach.

Integrated landscape approaches have been widely accepted by major global policy instruments as they offer better efficiency in meeting landscape and global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity conservation and food production.

A policy brief synthesizing discussion from the dialogue on the role of integrated landscape managemen has been published. The report provides 10 recommendations on how integrated landscape management can contribute to the CBD Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework.

Ten Recommendations from Africa for the Post-2020 Biodiversity Agenda

Provide policy support for locally-led landscape partnerships
1. Support and strengthen long term, locally-led and area-based landscape initiatives
2. Create national policy and enabling frameworks that make space for community-led
landscape initiatives
3. Plan with communities and promote more broadly land use planning methods that embrace integrated landscapes at larger scales (regional, national and transboundary)
4. Work through existing integrated landscape initiatives

Build ‘green’ landscape economies
5. Manage agricultural systems for biodiversity conservation
6. Integrate biodiversity consideration and natural infrastructure into urban landscape planning
7. Generate direct community benefits from protecting wildlife and biodiversity and link wildlife economy to market
8. Mobilize finance for integrated landscape investments that support biodiversity.

Measure landscape-level performance
9. Set landscape biodiversity targets
10. Build local skills and invest in Community Resource Centres for locally-led landscape
monitoring and research

Photo: ABCG

Community interview, Maasai Mara, Kenya. Photo Credit: Nikhil Advani, WWF

Climate Change Updates: Supporting Communities Adapt to Climate Change

Community interview, Maasai Mara, Kenya. Photo Credit: Nikhil Advani, WWFClimate change continues to be a major threat facing the world. The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) has been documenting human responses to climate change and their impacts on biodiversity, through its thematic working group on Managing Global Change Impacts on Biodiversity. Through this activity, we are aiming to have a better understanding on the impacts of climate change on livelihoods, how communities responses to climate change are affecting biodiversity, and provide opportunities to reduce human vulnerability to climate change while at the same time benefitting biodiversity. Since 2016, ABCG and partners have conducted over 600 interviews in communities engaged in farming, fishing and pastoralism across 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Cameroon, Gabon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, Madagascar, Mozambique and Uganda.

Country Reports

Facing declining rainfall, warming temperatures and shifting seasonal patterns, local pastoralist communities in Kenya have adopted several coping techniques to deal with loss of livelihood and resource scarcity due to climate change. Some of these coping strategies include, selling livestock, traveling to other areas such as parks/reserves in search of natural resources, fencing property, and pursuing alternative livelihoods. Some of these responses adversely impact biodiversity by increasing rates of human wildlife conflict, encroaching on habitat, and restricting wildlife movement.

Similarly, in Madagascar, decreasing rainfall and changes in the timing of seasons have led to reduced abundance of fish, crop failure, reduced availability of freshwater resources and increased prevalence of disease among other impacts. Many of the strategies that people have turned to in order to cope with climate change pose potential threats to marine and forest ecosystems. These include destructive fishing practices involving the use of illegal gear and fishing in ecologically sensitive areas, such as mangrove channels. Several respondents also note that farmers have turned to fishing to cope with poor crop yields. Increased reliance on forests for logging, hunting, and foraging for wild foods was also frequently cited in the responses, leading to deforestation and forest degradation.

Results from interviews with local communities show that 35% of the total adaptation responses conducted by local communities have a negative impact on biodiversity. Many of these spontaneous responses to climate change also reduce communities’ resilience and the ability to adapt to changing future conditions.

Download other country summaries on the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Crowd website.

Helping Communities Adapt

In 2019, ABCG began reporting back these findings to the communities to inform communities of the impact of their adaptation responses to the biodiversity. At these reporting back sessions, best practices that can support communities to adapt livelihoods to climate change with minimal impact to biodiversity were discussed. ABCG further worked with communities in selected countries to identify livelihood intervention projects that will support communities to mitigate or reduce these negative impacts of climate change while at the same time realizing positive benefits to biodiversity. ABCG will work with these communities to provide capacity and resources in the implementation of the selected projects in 2020.

Participatory Land Use PlanningRecent Conservation International Publication: Indicators to Measure the Adaptation Outcomes of Ecosystem-Based Adaptation

This paper published in the journal, Climatic Change, by Donatti et. al, identifies the outcomes and indicators that can be used to track the adaptation benefits provided by nature. Nature can provide many benefits to people, including helping them adapt to the negative impacts of climate change. Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) refers to the conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of ecosystems, ecosystem processes, and biodiversity to address the impacts of climate change on people’s lives and livelihoods.

The range of adaptation outcomes precludes the use of a single common indicator to measure adaptation outcomes in the same way that mitigation is measured (i.e., in terms of avoided greenhouse gases emissions). In the open access paper “Indicators to measure the climate change adaptation outcomes of Ecosystem-based adaptation”, 13 adaptation outcomes have been identified that can be achieved through EbA and seven indicators to monitor the success of EbA in achieving adaptation outcomes.