A Guide to Planning, Developing and Coordinating Mutually Beneficial Project Activities in Freshwater Conservation and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

On December 11, 2013 U.S. Water Partnership members, Conservation International, Millennium Water Alliance, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) joined the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) at the World Wildlife Fund offices for the launch of the Freshwater Conservation and water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Integration Guidelines: A Framework for Implementation in sub-Saharan Africa.

Healthy freshwater ecosystems provide the basis for water supply, flood control, food and numerous other services on which millions depend for their livelihood. However, international development organizations and funding agencies have traditionally treated freshwater ecosystems and watershed management needs as distinct and separate agendas on the ground related directly to access to water and sanitation. The collaborative group recognizes that water, poverty and environment are interconnected and the long-term sustainability of WASH services depends on the conservation and protection of the entire basin. Chris Kosnick, Director of Office of Water, USAID emphasized that the guidelines support the two main strategic objectives, Water for Health and Water for Food, of the Water and Development Strategy and highlighted a specific focus on building partnerships to address the areas of need and leverage resources and technical experiences.

The report aims to provide guidance to health, development, and conservation professionals in sub-Saharan Africa on how to plan, coordinate develop and achieve mutually supported WASH and freshwater conservation projects outcomes. Colleen Sorto, Senior Manager, Peace and Development Partnerships, Conservation International outlined the guidelines structure and highlighted the guidelines are the seed for integrating WASH and conservation. Sarah Davidson encouraged participants to distribute the guidelines with partners and share success stories of pilot projects form the field.

 The guidelines can be accessed here. Please share any lessons learned or questions with Sarah Davidson at sdavdison@tnc.org or Colleen Sorto at csorto@conservation.org.

HIV/AIDS Training Workshop Speaker

ABCG equips conservation organizations to support staff, partners, and local communities affected by HIV and AIDS

Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, millions of adults and children are living with HIV. The disease affects everyone and can have a devastating effect on families, economies, communities, and the environment. Since 2001, the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) has been working with partners in Eastern and Southern Africa to learn about the environmental impacts brought on by HIV and AIDS and to identify and catalyze coping strategies for the conservation sector to reduce these impacts.

This year’s World AIDS Day theme is Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation, which serves as a reminder about the contributions that all sectors can continue to make in overcoming this devastating disease. ABCG’s work on HIV and AIDS aims to raise awareness of the linkages between HIV and AIDS and the environment, and provide guidance to conservation organizations on actions they can take to reduce the impacts on their organizations, their partners and local communities, and the environment. 

HIV/AIDS Training Workshop Speaker

Effects of HIV and AIDS on the Environment and Conservation Institutions

Impacts on the environment are mainly through loss of conservation capacity and changes in use of land and natural resources. All sectors are affected by AIDS, but the conservation sector is particularly vulnerable because conservation staff are often posted to remote areas without their families, where they may be more susceptible to contracting and/or spreading the disease. Certain natural resource extractors are at higher risk due to the nature of their work, for example fishermen and timber loggers, who may rely on transactional sex to secure resources for income generation. In addition, AIDS affects the way that people use land and natural resources, often leading to damaging and unsustainable practices such as the illegal over-hunting of wildlife for the bushmeat trade.

To address these impacts, the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group developed a manual on HIV/AIDS and the Environment: A Manual for Conservation Organizations on Impacts and Responses. The manual provides background information on the origin of HIV, the nature of AIDS and the AIDS epidemic. It outlines the links between the disease and the environment, both on conservation capacity and on use of land and natural resources, showing how gender and poverty have a strong influence through a series of complex linkages. It then describes actions that can be taken to reduce impacts, to help maintain conservation capacity in organizations and local communities; to reduce unsustainable practices as a result of AIDS; and support AIDS-affected communities through alternative livelihoods based on sustainable natural resource use or other low-labor-intensive approaches. Finally, it outlines further needs for learning, collaboration and scaling up. It draws heavily on the work of several conservation organizations and programs working in this field, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, and illustrates a wide variety of experiences. 


In November 2013, ABCG and its member the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) held a training workshop on Equipping Conservation Groups to Mitigate HIV and AIDS in the Workplace in Kigoma, Tanzania. The workshop brought together 34 people from conservation NGOs, local government, national parks, and partner NGOs to review the impacts of HIV and AIDS on the environment, conservation staff, and local communities and to better equip these groups to develop workplace policies and programs to mitigate the impacts of HIV and AIDS. Organization of the workshop was led by Mary Mavanza of JGI-Tanzania and consultant Daulos Mauambeta. Mr. Mauambeta has long been an advocate for empowering conservation organizations to better address these issues; we were very pleased to have him serve as the workshop facilitator and trainer. Mr. Mauambeta shared many examples of how HIV and AIDS had negatively impacted conservation efforts, including a decline of wildlife populations in a Malawian protected area following infection of a large number of protected area staff, who were then unable to perform their duties.

Topics included:

  • Background on HIV/AIDS and global trends
  • Why the conservation community is vulnerable to HIV and AIDS
  • Linkages between conservation and HIV and AIDS
  • Mainstreaming HIV and AIDS in conservation programs
  • Developing an HIV and AIDS workplace policy

 HIV/AIDS Training Workshop Breakout

Pastory Magingi of ABCG member African Wildlife Foundation shared principles from the HIV and AIDS workplace policy that AWF adopted in 2004 to provide staff and families with information and resources on prevention and care. Key components of their policy include assurance of confidentiality, job security and employee benefits, provision of voluntary counseling and testing services, educational programs, treatment services, condom distribution, and medical services. Participants in the workshop were strongly encouraged to work with their organizations to encourage development of workplace policies and programs.

At the close of the workshop, each participant was asked to write their individual commitments to take action for mitigating the impacts of HIV and AIDS in their organizations and in their own lives. These commitments include:

  • Help in the formulation of an HIV/AIDS policy at my work place and supporting staff members to know their HIV status and get help where necessary
  • Request date for meeting with other staff to advice how HIV/AIDS may spread in our workplace and to the nearby villagers
  • By the end of the year, get myself tested for HIV
  • Introduce an HIV/AIDS program in my environmental education program
  • I will not stigmatize people with HIV/AIDS and I will sensitize others to do the same

 Staff from the Jane Goodall Institute continued their work an additional day, during which they drafted an internal workplace policy on HIV and AIDS. This policy is now being refined and will be reviewed by all JGI country offices before it is finalized.

Additional Resources:



JGI Logo 

Developing Solutions for Conflicting Land and Natural Resource Use in Africa

ABCG Goes to the ICCB 2013 Symposia, Wednesday 24th July

ABCG joined scientists from around the world to share recent work in conservation research, practice and recommendations in the historic venue of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Our symposium  showcased the work of ABCG and our members on critical approaches to land use planning, competing demands for resources, and collaborative conservation work.:

  1. Overlapping Land & Resource Rights in Africa 
    Gaia Larsen, Associate in the International Financial Flows and the Environment, [World Resources Institute]
  2. Optimizing Tradeoffs in Woodland Ecosystems: Carbon, Conservation and Communities—A Case study from The Murchison-Semliki landscape 
    Dan Segan, Conservation Planner, [Wildlife Conservation Society]
  3. Reconciling Economic Growth and Forest Protection in the Congo Basin: Managing land use in Central Africa 
    Kirsten Hund, Senior Mining Specialist, [The World Bank]
  4. High Conservation Value Forest Assessments and Other Tools for Geographic Priority Setting 
    Rachel Neugarten, Manager of Conservation Priority Setting, [Conservation International]
  5. Implementation of Land Policy for Improved Ecosystem Management and Land Tenure in East Africa 
    Lilian Pineta, Vice President of Conservation Science, [the Jane Goodall Institute]
  6. Developing Broader Solutions for Conflicting Land Use: Lessons from ABCG Approaches 
    Natalie Bailey, Coordinator, Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group


In summary…

ABCG’s session explored the many conservation approaches to land use planning and the impacts on communities and conservation of the scramble for resources in Africa.

In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, various actors lay claim to land for multiple, overlapping purposes. The same area may hold oil or minerals that could provide income to the government and jobs for people, rare species of wildlife that require uninterrupted habitat for their survival, or may be valued as sacred forests by local communities. Competing claims to limited land and natural resources present numerous challenges to stakeholders including conservationists, local communities, governments and the private sector, and require innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to find solutions.

Collaboration between international conservation NGOs, governments, development partners and others is a beneficial approach as it brings together different strategies, points of view and resources to address emerging and high priority threats to biodiversity and development in Africa. Competing demand for land and natural resources is a common theme of many of our ongoing efforts. Successful approaches require multifaceted strategies that tie together systems (ecosystems, agricultural systems), disciplines (conservation planning, extractive industries, land tenure, development), and stakeholders (local people, governments and conservationists).

The following are abstracts from the presentations to accompany the linked slides. The talks covered three themes of:

  • Land Use Planning for Conservation
  • Climate Change
  • Overexploitation of Natural Resources

Natalie Bailey, ABCG’s Coordinator, closed out the engaging session with a talk on the collaborative and cross-cutting nature of the key messages shared by our presenters.

388f7836-1efa-4e55-946d-597bede24b2d.jpgNatalie Bailey, Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group 

The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) engages in various approaches to address emerging and high-priority conservation issues affecting biodiversity in Africa, many of which are represented by the previous presentations in this symposium. Our work is guided in part by the Dar Vision for the Future of Biodiversity in Africa, which foresees that “By 2025, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss in Africa have been significantly slowed, people and nature are adapting to climate change, and species and ecosystem services are providing a foundation for human welfare in a society committed to sustainable economic development and equitable sharing of natural resource benefits.”

The approaches shared in this symposium range from legal rights to scenario planning, sustainability frameworks and community leadership in land use planning. Tradeoffs are inherently a part of each approach. This final presentation will address the benefits and challenges of the above approaches and will preface a discussion on competing interests, development needs and preservation and protection of biodiversity.

Women stove making training

Clean Energy Technology for Cooking and Lighting Barriers and Breakthroughs: Event Summary

By Kamweti Mutu

Women stove making training

Mary Mavanza, Governance Officer with the Jane Goodall Institute’s Gombe Masito-Ugalla Ecosystem Program, revealed that refugees fleeing violence from DRC Congo to Kigoma, Tanzania, carried their hearth-stones as one of the few household possessions they salvaged.

In Kenya, the Agikuyu in the Central province consider it a bad omen for the hearth fire to go out while the homestead owner is still living. The hearth is the setting for interpersonal bonding, among other social and practical uses, in the Maasai ethnic group. Such is the social significance of the cooking hearth in a traditional community particularly in rural African landscapes to this day. This is but one of the several key points acknowledged as factors in effective cleaner cookstove adoption projects, captured succinctly by Bob Lange’s triple goal of health, conservation, and the welfare of women.

The Clean Cookstoves event highlighted several key considerations in the gradually growing sector of clean energy products for households highly dependent on biomass as feedstock.

Listen to the entire webcast including accompanying slides by clicking here.


Laura Clough

Laura Clough and her study with GVEP International depicted the vast array of improved cookstove types available in local markets, but this correlated with a costly and fragmented distribution system particularly towards the retail end. Moreover consumer awareness on the benefits of efficient cookstoves was wanting, and on the produce end, quality control was a significant factor that undermines any efficiency “improvements” made on a product. Other main challenges include a dearth of capital financing, scant capacity on the products and biomass feedstock supply chain, and cultural resistance including low prioritization of energy efficient appliances.

To address some of these challenges, ABCG supported the development of a toolkit to help practitioners identify the most suitable tools and practices in a given context. Download the “Toolkit for Implementing Household Energy Projects in Conservation Areas here.

Presentation: Energizing Conservation Efforts


Bob Lang Bob Lang of the International Collaborative’s Maasai Stoves & Solar Project stressed the importance of three interdependent and interconnected goals: environmental conservation, health, and women’s welfare. In particular, projects have to incorporate sufficient sensitivity to the personal and cultural values of a community vis-à-vis cookstoves and home heating, in conjunction to seeking market-based solutions to production, supply and uptake. His approach is explicitly participatory with locals from the outset to maximize on local talent, knowledge skills and buy-in. His process features rapid prototyping and continual development adapting to local conditions by way of intimate consultation and partnership with the local community. Thus an important lesson is that solutions have to consider the local context as an inherent criterion in scoping a program or project.

Presentation: It is not just about cooking!


Brandi Suttles The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC) is “a public-private initiative to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and protect the environment by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions”. Brandi Suttles and Stevie Valdez presented the Alliance’s approach to the sector by convening actors including producers, distributors and advocates. GACC aims to structure and promote worldwide standards, partnerships, investments, research and policy change. The Alliance champions a market-based strategy as a response to the supply chain issue, by pursuing a three-pronged strategy of enhancing demand, strengthening supply and fostering an enabling environment.

Stevie Valdez

Presentation: Fostering an Enabling EnvironmentThe Role of Conservation 


Overall, the talk proved an engaging exchange of findings, recommendations and challenges. The event portrayed several major benefits to having efficient cookstoves and clean energy products adopted across communities highly dependent on biomass: Woodlands are not wiped out, leading to a chain reaction of habitat degradation; users spend less effort searching for sources and more being socially/economically productive, and; health benefits are felt from the individual to the community at large.

The conservation community is recognizing the complex dynamic between meeting the needs of both the human and animal populations in areas of ecological importance. Addressing household energy needs can help reduce pressure on natural resources such as firewood and bring positive impacts for local residents. For example, the surveys showed that households could travel up to 50 km to the nearest town to purchase kerosene for lighting and spend over 5 hours looking for firewood for cooking. Encouraging the use of technologies such as solar lanterns and energy efficient stoves can help reduce the time spent on fuel collection as well as reducing household expenditure.

~Laura Clough, Technical Specialist, GVEP International.


Read our recent newsletter on Clean Energy Technologies here

Visit our Clean Energy topic page at ABCG.org here

Heart of Iron World Premier

Heart of Iron–Mining in the Congo Basin Rainforest and Conservation in Africa



For several years, the World Bank and World Wildlife Fund have worked together to collaborate on-the-ground in several Africa countries, notably in the Congo Basin. One visible part of this collaboration has been the production of the documentary film titled, Heart of Iron: Mining in the Congo Basin Rain Forest, supported not only by the World Bank but also UNESCO/EU. The World Bank and WWF have signed an agreement to formalize an on-going collaboration to increase their effectiveness and impact in the region. The MOU provides a structured framework that opens opportunities for additional collaboration in the region. During the event, participants discussed opportunities and challenges for such collaboration to address mining and conservation in Africa.

About the Film 

Heart of Iron World Premier

In the heart of the Congo Basin, global thirst for steel has driven miners to a vast, remote forest landscape called Tridom (Tri-national Dja-Odzala-Minkébé), which holds one of the largest untapped iron reserves on earth. Shot on location, Heart of Iron explores the complexity of mining in a region that is home to Baka and Bakola pygmy and Bantu tribes and a haven for gorillas, chimpanzees, and elephants. The iron mines promise jobs, infrastructure, and new revenues but can benefits be balanced with impacts? From ministers to miners, conservationists to community members, the film asks: How do we ensure that mining benefits the poor and conserves Tridom’s rich cultural and natural heritage?

View the film here: https://vimeo.com/heartofiron


Source: World Wildlife Fund – U.S. PRESS RELEASE


WASHINGTON, May 28, 2013 – World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the World Bank today signed a memorandum of understanding to intensify collaboration in Africa’s extractive industries sector, and jointly support more sustainable extractive industry practices that provide benefits to local communities and protect the environment.

The MOU commits the two institutions to share knowledge and expertise relating to the extractives sector in Africa, utilize and leverage existing resources, collaborate on research and dissemination of good practices, provide policy guidance, boost collaboration with other entities, and jointly host seminars, workshops and training events to strengthen African capacities for sustainable management of natural resources.

To end poverty and boost shared prosperity, Africa needs a new generation of extractive industry projects that are marked by transparency, environmental and social accountability, and a sharp focus on development results,” said Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in the Africa Region, at the signing ceremony at WWF-US headquarters in Washington, DC.  “We look forward to strengthening our partnership with World Wildlife Fund-US so that poor people across Africa can benefit from the abundance of natural resources.”

The MOU comes at a time when Africa is achieving solid growth rates of five percent and up. In an analysis of issues shaping Africa’s economic future, the World Bank’s Africa Pulse, April 2013 issue noted that considerable amounts of new mineral revenues were coming on stream across the region.  Of the 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Africa Pulse noted that by 2020 only four or five countries on the continent will not be involved in mineral exploitation of some kind, such is Africa’s abundance of natural resources.

There is great opportunity for local communities to benefit from extractive projects in Africa, but there is also risk that these communities, along with critical habitats and endangered species are exploited in the process,” said David Reed, Senior Vice President for Policy at WWF-US. “We hope that by working with the World Bank, we can ensure that extractive projects, both large and small, are implemented with free, prior and informed consent combined with respect for globally recognized environmental and social standards.”

The new Memorandum of Understanding marks an important step forward in our ongoing collaboration with WWF,” said Magda Lovei, World Bank Sector Manager for Environment, Natural Resources, Water, and Disaster Risk Management in the Africa Region.  “We look forward to working more closely with WWF to support sustainable practices in extractive industries.

Because the majority of people engaged in mining in Africa operate at an artisanal level (artisanal small scale miners or ASMs), a particular aspect of the collaboration is to focus attention where environmental and social problems are prevalent, and where vulnerability, poverty, conflict and development needs are at their greatest.

After the signing ceremony, participants viewed a documentary, “Heart of Iron: Mining in the Congo Basin Rainforest” jointly produced by WWF and the World Bank which explores the complexity of mining in a vast, remote forest landscape called Tridom (Tri-national Dja-Odzala-Minkébé) that is home to one of the largest untapped iron reserves on earth.


URL: http://worldwildlife.org/press-releases/world-wildlife-fund-and-world-bank-sign-memorandum-of-understanding-on-africa-s-extractive-industries

Uganda Solar Lantern Jim Anderson

Clean Energy Technologies, Applications and Methodologies

Finding Solutions for communities, conservation and the climate

A large number of rural communities in Africa exhibit substantial vulnerability to recent changes in climate and weather patterns. Such communities, often with poorly diversified livelihood bases, generallyare highly dependent on renewable and biological resources, which themselves are subject to the vicissitudes of climatic variations.

Uganda Solar Lantern Jim Anderson
Solar salesman in Gulu, Uganda.

Photo: James H. Anderson /Flickr


The conservation community is recognizing the complex dynamic between meeting the needs of both the human and animal populations in areas of ecological importance. Addressing household energy needs can help reduce pressure on natural resources such as firewood and bring positive impacts for local residents. For example, the surveys showed that households could travel up to 50 km to the nearest town to purchase kerosene for lighting and spend over 5 hours looking for firewood for cooking. Encouraging the use of technologies such as solar lanterns and energy efficient stoves can help reduce the time spent on fuel collection as well as reducing household expenditure.

~Laura Clough, Technical Specialist, GVEP International.



ABCG’s climate change efforts focus on a variety of approaches using science-based decision-making tools and participatory techniques. These approaches include climate change adaptation; providing stakeholders with appropriate methodologies and best practices for conservation-development tradeoffs; grazing management and soil carbon; and the topic of this feature newsletter, Applying Clean Energy and Sustainable Eco-charcoal Technology. In the past year the Clean Energy working group’s sought to understand which strategies have worked in promoting the use and adoption of clean energy technologies so as to influence future programming, policy-making and development goals.


In 2012, ABCG members, including the Africa Wildlife Foundation and the Jane Goodall Institute, produced two reports and accompanying report briefs authored by GVEP International , targeted at a broad spectrum of audiences including policy makers, natural resource managers and households.


The report, a Review of Household Clean Energy Technology for Lighting, Charging and Cooking in East Africa-Kenya and Tanzania: A Learning Report, is aimed at informing policy development to enhance the adoption of appropriate technologies and production methods.

cookstove by Saksan
Improved cookstove. Photo Saksan /Flickr

An extensive appendix of advanced cookstoves, solar products and their suppliers both in Tanzania and Kenya are featured in the report. The report presents key findings of the authors’ comprehensive survey, rendering the report a particularly valuable resource inventory of the technology landscape in eastern Africa. For example, it is evident that there is a plethora of innovative and imaginative product solutions, but the survey points to significant barriers in the adoption of such technology including lack of capital on the consumer side and lack of collateral and credit on the business side.


A follow up report builds on the findings of the review of household clean energy technologies, and presents a toolkit to better identify and support appropriate and context sensitive technologies and approaches for implementing agencies. The report, subtitled Toolkit for Implementing Household Energy Projects in Conservation Areas, proves useful for the wider conservation community and household-level energy sector development as well. Rich with schematic diagrams and other visual illustrations, the report presents the reader with the benefits and drawbacks of a selection of cookstove and lighting technology options under various application contexts linked to biodiversity conservation and community development. These technologies include eco-charcoal (improved) stoves, biogas, wind and solar systems. Furthermore, consideration is paid to the economic feasibility of a particular technology. The toolkit offers a handy assessment and implementation methodology to get started, as well as operational, monitoring and evaluation considerations to support the implementer towards successful project completion.

Developing systems of renewable and ecologically sound energy production, distribution and consumption can mean the difference between catastrophic collapse or thriving livelihoods for many rural (and even urban) African communities as well as natural ecosystems that support such communities. A recent peer-reviewed study by Konrad Wessels of the CSIR-Meraka Institute in South Africa found evidence that rural communities face imminent danger of depleting their wood-based energy supply unless they make the switch to other sustainable sources to avert devastating ecological collapse. A link to the study can be found through Conservation Magazine’s article here.

Scaling up the use of appropriate clean and fuel efficient technology for energy in rural areas and the fast growing urban population in Africa is urgently needed if Africa’s landscapes are to survive and remain viable engines for economic development through the ecosystem services they offer.’ It is for this reason that the analysis facilitated by ABCG is timely, relevant, and welcome as the global community seeks to achieve the vision for universal access to clean and affordable energy by 2030.


~Jimmiel Mandima, Program Director of Policy, African Wildlife Foundation



Find an abbreviated version of the full reports here


Imam Kasozi, Uganda at NNP

“Many Heavens, One Earth, Our Continent”: African Faith Leaders Launch Conservation Commitments

Faiths guide and direct the way we think, behave, and live our lives. But the power of faith is not solely spiritual. Collectively, faith-related institutions own almost 8 percent of total habitable land surface and constitute the world’s third largest category of financial investors. Their determination to address climate change or to protect wildlife has enormous potential to influence the fate of natural spaces and species.  

With funding from USAID’s Biodiversity Analysis and Technical Support (BATS) program of the Bureau for Africa, the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group supports engagement with faith communities on conservation. Through this initiative, ABCG works with its members the Jane Goodall Institute and World Wildlife Fund-US, as well as the UK-based  Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC).

Imam Kasozi, Uganda at NNP
Immam Ibban Iddih Kasozi, Vice National Chairman of the Uganda Muslim Youth Assembly, enjoying God’s creation at Nairobi National Park (c) J.Morgan/ WWF

From 18-20 September 2012, ARC hosted the “Many Heavens, One Earth, Our Continent: African Faith Commitments for a Living Planet” conference during which faith groups from throughout sub-Saharan Africa launched their long-term plans for conservation. These plans are compiled in a volume of the same title. During the workshop, more than 100 participants gathered at the All Africa Conference of Churches Archbishop Desmond Tutu Ecumenical Centre for three days of celebrating the long-term conservation plans, as well as discussions of engaging faith communities, developing partnerships, sustainable agriculture, education, tree planting, the role of women, and illegal wildlife trade.

Celebration and storytelling were important components of the conference. Martin Palmer of ARC emphasized the importance of celebration in all faith traditions, and so the conference began with joyous recognition of the work and commitments of each faith group. Guest speakers included the President of the All Africa Conference of Churches, the Acting Ambassador of Norway, the UNEP Africa Region Permanent Secretary and school children from Muslim and Christian eco-schools in Nairobi. Tree seedlings were blessed with Muslim, Christian and Hindu prayers and were presented to Kenyan leaders at the conference.

Faith leaders celebrate their commitments to conservation (c) N. Bailey /ABCG

The plans focus on faith-based responses to the issues of agriculture practice, sustainable use of land and water and education on the environment in faith schools. They include:

Tree planting and agroforestry are important parts of many faith plans. For example, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania intends to set up 26 tree nurseries training over 200 women in tree nursery establishment, tree planting and agroforestry.

Many faiths have strong commitments to sustainable agriculture. One of these, the Abaja Ba Kristo (the Servants of Christ) agro-pastoral centre, run by a women’s religious congregation in Karongi Region, Rwanda, proposes expanding its farmer training in sustainable agriculture.

Water. sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects are also very important to many faith groups, as is environmental education from a faith perspective. ARC is working with the Kenyan Organization for Environmental Education and other faith groups to development an education for sustainable development toolkit for faith primary schools in Kenya that incorporates faith values, using eco-schools as a strategy for the curriculum of faith-based schools.

Islam, Christianity and African spirituality all have important ways of relating to the environment, and many faith groups have goals for education and community engagement. Mosques in Uganda are promoting Green Fridays – designated days for discussion and action on the environment. In addition, more than 10,000 Christian and Muslim congregations in Ghana will hold awareness creation workshops on environmental protection.

For more information on the faith commitments, click here: http://www.arcworld.org/projects.asp?projectID=563

Illegal Wildlife Trade
Hajjat prays
Christian, Muslim and Hindu faith leaders pray for protection of wildlife and park rangers at the site of the 1989 ivory burn at Nairobi National Park (c) J.Morgan/ WWF

With support from USAID through ABCG, WWF and ARC announced a first-ever partnership with faith leaders from across Africa to unite against the killing of endangered species caused by illegal wildlife trade. In an unprecedented move, 50 African religious representatives from different faiths and countries have come together to call for the end of illegal wildlife trade, which is annihilating the continent’s elephant and rhino populations.

WWF and ARC have worked with leaders from Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist and traditional faiths to align around the wildlife crisis facing Africa. We have held several meetings including a wildlife safari in Nairobi National Park to discuss the role of religion in Africa to halt the trade. The leaders gave a moving tribute to all of the wildlife exterminated due to the trade. They also prayed for the wellbeing of local communities and for the many hundreds of rangers that have lost their lives protecting wildlife across Africa.

Please visit www.abcg.org to learn more about our work. We are grateful to the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Biodiversity Analysis and Technical Support (BATS) program for their support of these efforts. USAID logo


Natalie Bailey
Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group
Emmanuel Mtiti of JGI

2012 ABCG Land Use & Governance Thematic Meeting

: Land under PressureCompetition, Opportunities and Implications for Conservation

ABCG held a thematic meeting on Land Tenure and Biodiversity: Analyzing Biodiversity Conservation and Governance to Prevent Conflict and Crisis. Jimmiel Mandima, Program Director of Policy with the Africa Wildlife Foundation served as Chair and moderator on this open meeting that featured recent work in the field and a lively discussion with all participants.

Key themes of the meeting included:

  • Land is the thread that runs through numerous conservation challenges in Africa
  • Communities voice and involvement in matters related to land use is essential
  • A need for coordinated and integrated approaches that avoid stove-piping and sectoral silos
  • The role of policy AND implementation as cross-checks on one another

The following is a summary of the presentation points and proceedings.

Implementation of Land Policy for Improved Ecosystem Management and Land Tenure in Western Tanzania

Emmanuel Mtiti, Program Director, the Jane Goodall Institute-Tanzania; Emmanuel Mtiti of JGI
Matt Brown, Conservation Director, The Nature Conservancy Africa Region

The landscape of Western Tanzania is seriously threatened by incompatible development, unsustainable farming techniques, destructive and uncontrolled wildfires, and inadequate local capacity to establish and enforce more environmentally friendly land use policies and practices. Gradual encroachment has caused significant negative impact on sustainable development and habitat preservation in the region. Co-presented by Mtiti and Brown, the discussion focused on how the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and partners are working with authorities from the village to the national level in a land use planning process to address on-going threats.

Matt BrownAvailable opportunities exist within the country policy framework to improve management of critical ecosystems in Western Tanzania and reduce conflicts in the utilization of forests while improving the livelihoods of the local population. Through an intense participatory process, JGI and Frankfurt Zoological Society have completed 63 village land use plans and 37 village land forest reserves in the Greater Mahale Ecosystem. This contributes to the process of integrating local planning with regional and national natural resource planning and management. Brown shared that the recently completed 15 month survey for assessing critical chimpanzee habitat is being used by government officials to identify priority conservation sites and reach consensus regarding the conservation status for each of those sites within the Greater Mahale Ecosystem. This information is being used to define the most critical forest protection sites for existing chimpanzee populations and for connectivity within this broader ecosystem. The resulting knowledge is being discussed with district and higher government officials to consider the value of the resource inventory and implications for management, local livelihoods and conservation. A forest protection blue-print will be produced that will result in the creation of new protected areasvillage forest reserves and national forest reserves.

Mtiti emphasized that the most challenging issue for land tenure in Tanzania is in poor management, rather than a need to reform the constitution. It is important for villagers to develop village land use plans and to register clearly demarcated land, thereby avoid land grabs especially in densely populated areas. Having done this, villagers can pursue customary land use rights that are legally binding that could be honored as collateral for bank loans.

Securing Land and Community Benefits through Creative Conservation Tools and Models: Research and Practice in Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa

Kathleen Fitzgerald, AWFKathleen Fitzgerald, Director of Land Conservation, Africa Wildlife Foundation

The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has explored land tenure, environmental easements, carbon mitigation, co-management agreements and conservancy models in Zimbabwe, Kenya, and South Africa. Fitzgerald highlighted some of their key findings and featured the work AWF is conducting in Zimbabwe around developing conservancy models as part of achieving provisions of the countrys indigenization policy as well as economic, social and ecological sustainability.

The Zimbabwe government invited AWFs assistance with an initial review of the state of the nations conservation estate that includes three major designations:

  • Protected Areas
  • CAMPFIRE Areas
  • Conservancies

All three areas have experienced wildlife declines due to a number of factors including land use conversion, poaching, unplanned resettlement as part of the Land Reform Program, lack of capacity because of the financial situation and mismanagement. AWF is implementing a variety of strategies to address these threats, and was invited by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to help develop a proposed model for conservancies in Zimbabwe that meet the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment policy of 2007. AWFs proposal includes indigenization through the engagement of the communities that live in and around conservancies.

While conservancies vary throughout Africa, they offer a suite of universal benefits to land, natural resource management, community empowerment, tourism diversity, revenue generation and biodiversity conservation. The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority requested AWF to use Save Valley Conservancy as a pilot site for AWF to develop a model that achieves economic, social and environmental sustainability. Fitzgerald discussed some of the best practices AWF has reviewed in Africa for conservancy management and development and shared some of the proposed model in Zimbabwe. She reviewed Zimbabwes Land Reform Policy and how this had and continues to have a direct impact on wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe.

Overlapping Land and Natural Resource Rights in Africa: A Comparative Analysis

Peter VeitPeter Veit, Interim Director of Institutions and Governance Program, World Resources Institute

Peter Veit discussed the authorities granted by government to natural resource licensees to enter onto and use privately-held land (including communal/customary land and private conservancies) for purposes of exercising their resource rights. He focused on petroleum and mineral concession holders in Ghana, Liberia, Kenya and Uganda. Some comparison was also made with the authorities granted to the holders of tree and forest rights.

Veits work with the World Resources Institute (WRI) has focused on the spectrum of restrictions on privately-held landfrom restrictions with minor impacts on land use and values to regulatory takings. Of note is the contrast with US land rights where land ownership comes with rights to many natural resources, while in the study countries, there are separate and distinct land and many natural resource property rights regimes. Veits research shows that mineral and petroleum laws provide resource licensees with considerable authorities to use private land for their operations.

The situation with trees and forests is more complex but in some countries the forestry laws better recognize land rights than mineral and petroleum laws. Still, commercial use usually requires government approval management plans and certain species have use restrictions or are fully protected.

There is ample room to increase options for landowners to lobby for stronger land rights such as requesting rent from licensees to use private land, mandating landholder consent for licensees to use natural resources, and allowing landowners to use land in conjunction with licensee, etc. Many contradictions exist between land and natural resource laws that need to be harmonized.

Empowering Communities: Recognizing Land Rights as a Path to Collaboration

Karol Boudreaux, USAIDKarol Boudreaux, Africa Land Tenure Specialist, U.S. Agency for International Development / Economic Growth, Education and Environment

Karol Boudreaux presented on emerging land tenure and land governance issues in Africa and focused on large-scale land acquisitions, private-sector investment and the opportunity presented by the adoption of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT) to address conflict related to competing land uses and how USAID is thinking about these issues and challenges.

The VGGT offers land and resource managers fundamental guidelines on land use planning and administration. Adoption of the VGGT provides an important window of opportunity to tackle issues including protecting customary rights, integrating gender concerns, recognizing secondary and tertiary rights (most typically to natural resources) and supporting responsible investing by private sector actors. Boudreaux highlighted how some community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) best practices can be applied to work with communities, farmers associations, etc. to build more collaborative contracting models that empower communities.

Governance is a systemic process that relates to the rule of law, political concerns and local power structures. Land tenure professionals would benefit from incorporating more comprehensive, integrated approaches to their practices so as to incorporate not only institutions allocating and enforcing laws, but also informal sector institutions, traditional leaders and customary practices.

Demand for land in Africa is high but tenure rights on the ground are often weak. Locals need assurances that their rights are realized and honored thus promoting a sense of ownership and resource stewardship. For example, empowering local communities to transfer rights between their own people and to engage directly with investors can be mutually beneficial and reduce some risks associated with land acquisitions.

Carl Bruch, Environmental Law Institute

Carl Bruch, ELIThe Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is working on a multi-year project examining how post-conflict peace-building can be catalyzed through natural resource management processes. As a joint exercise with other institutions, ELI has published Land and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding edited by Jon Unruh and Rhodri Williams and published by Earthscan. Peace building is difficult often because of conflicts over land and natural resources. In South Sudan, virtually none of the communities have come forward to validate their claims to community land after Khartoum enacted a law that invalidated 99 percent of the populations claims, reflecting a daunting task of integrating formal governance structures with local, informal customary systems.

Well functioning land management systems depend on good information systems. Cadastral systems thus need careful design to incorporate the vertical spectrum of rightsminerals and petroleum, grazing, trees, etc. into one system.

Closing Discussion:

Several key themes percolated during the discussion:

Land tenure professionals need to be more considerate of cross-sectoral land use issues, including climate change. USAID, for example, employs climate experts to address climate change implications on land use, and show concern on the level of informality prevalent with rural communities and other stakeholders.

The role of governance is crucial as a regulatory mechanism, but must also involve an interactive, multi-ministerial framework for effective policy-making and functioning regulation using a comprehensive cadastral database.

A significant challenge for land tenure practitioners is engaging communities, often small and marginalized, in the process of securing their land rights and other resource privileges with trust and confidence in the governance system. Some examples were cited where community awareness and trust in a (generally) centralized government agency is poor. These include South Sudan and southern Kenya, where communal rangeland in Kajiado County is being subdivided amid short-term gain and community uncertainty.

The land use and governance theme may gain from efforts to further formalize land issues and build capacity to tackle conservation challenges by engaging academic institutions. Whereas conservation and developments organizations indeed have field specialists and technical expertise, the academic sector offers opportunities to pool various resources including robust evidence-based socio-economic and ecological knowledge. The UKs Department of Land Economy at the University of Cambridge was cited as an example of its role in helping create several land use statutes in Africa. Other partnerships include USAID and The Nelson Institutes Land Tenure Center at the University of Madison-Wisconsin.

Much of the work done by ABCG is closely tied to the land, a fact that resonates with our development counterparts. Many of the stakeholders including rural communities approach land use broadly and systemically. Land use thus serves as an ever present reminder of the need to synergize strengths through partnerships, and break barriers of institutional silos and information stove piping that affect the mission of work towards biodiversity conservation and sustained livelihood development.

Rainforest Axel Rouvin

High Conservation Values Forest Assessment

Recognizing the true value of critical landscapes against industrial development

Africa’s population is growing at a rate of 2.3 percent annually, compared to 1.1 percent globally. At the same time, the continent is losing about 10 million acres of forest every year to commercial logging and land conversion for roads, agriculture, settlement, and various other developments.

Rainforest Axel Rouvin
Rainforest in Gabon. Photo: Axel Rouvin /Flickr

… [I]ncreasingly, we are seeing the same scenario played out in Africa. A cheap, profitable crop like palm oil is difficult for many to turn down, even if it means wiping out chimpanzee or gorilla habitat in the process. Surely Dr. Oz’s audience would like to make informed consumer choices with so much in the balance.

A recent reaction by GRASP ambassadors Dr. Richard Wrangham with Dr. Jane Goodall speaking out on consumers’ impact of their choices on the survival of great apes.

~See: Great Apes Survival Partnership, January 2013 


Africa’s forests and woodlands are among the world’s richest source of biodiversity resources and livelihoods for a majority of local people. Africa’s forests have a crucial role to play at the regional and global level, in large part due to ecosystem services including climate regulation, carbon sequestration, repositories for biodiversity, primary and secondary forest products, and water catchment.


In recent years, efforts to localize and internalize the true social, environmental and economic value of intact ecosystems into development plans have come to the fore as irreplaceable landscapes are destroyed at an alarming rate, often in less developed nations. One such effort uses the High Conservation Value (HCV) forest assessments principle developed by the Forest Stewardship Council.


ABCG recognized the massive threat posed by the ever increasing interest in and demand for Africa’s natural resources through logging, mining, palm oil, wildlife poaching and other industries. ABCG partners involved with the HCV task include Conservation International, Wildlife Conservation Society and World Wildlife Fund. Protecting biological resources does not come easy in a continent rife with scarce infrastructure, poor capacity and incomplete data. The importance of these significant barriers to implementing ecologically balanced development measures led to ABCG’s HCV Forest Assessment task conducted for the Congo Basin in two phases:
Rio Ivindo Carlos Reis
Rio Ivindo. Photo Carlos Reis /Flickr
  • Develop a toolkit for setting HCV thresholds of significance for the coastal forest area of Gabon. This involved analyzing ecological and environmental service data available for the coastal forest biome of Gabon; and   
  • Investigate the possibilities of scaling up this approach for a methodology applicable to a national or regional scale, particularly in central Africa, identifying biodiversity data gaps and conducting regional HCV evaluations.

The effort resulted in two detailed reports produced by Conservation International and Wildlife Conservation Society experts. The first, authored by Tim Rayden, Technical Advisor for Forestry at the Wildlife Conservation Society, aims at establishing a model approach to setting limits and thresholds to criteria for HCV attributes. Titled Defining HCV Thresholds in Gabon: Year #1 report, it seeks to offer a utility to the process of land use planning by developing parameters that are appropriate for the national context. Key steps in the process include five thematic areas to support Gabon’s national land use planning process:

  1. Review existing approaches to threshold setting for conservation planning in data-poor contexts and their potential applicability to a stakeholder-led HCV decision making process
  2. Development of methods for the identification of forest types and land units, to facilitate the planning process
  3. Identification and modeling of endemic plant hotspots
  4. Refining the work done so far on population mapping of great apes and elephants
  5. Using a biotic index of fresh water systems to identify important river catchments 

The second report, titled A Global Review of National Guidance for High Conservation Value, was authored by Rachel Neugarten and Conrad Savy of Conservation International. The report reviews an array of toolkits and guidance literature to tease out common themes or areas of consistency that represent best practices with the aim of developing national guidelines.

Rachel Neugarten explains further: 

We undertook this review out of concerns about inconsistencies in the ways different countries are defining and applying the concept of High Conservation Value in forestry, agricultural, and biofuels landscapes. We found that indeed there are sharp differences in the guidance from different countries, including different definitions of threatened species, protected areas, and large intact landscapes. But we see reason to be hopeful that existing guidance can be linked to international standards, such as the , and make use of existing tools, such as the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) which can make it easier for practitioners to implement the HCV framework and to increase the consistency in the way this standard is applied across countries.

This report highlights several noteworthy findings: The authors recognize that developing guidelines is highly contextual, and thus calls for pragmatic and flexible approaches. They also find there is need for HCV assessment in non-forest landscapes including grasslands and marine ecosystems.  


Overall, the authors find a striking lack of quantitatively-based criteria in many toolkits, likely due to the cost of acquiring such data, adding to the challenge of setting thresholds. This is the core challenge that the HCV partners endeavor to resolve through ongoing efforts in a second phase of the Defining HCV Thresholds in Gabon work. WCS and partners will continue publishing maps, develop data into tools and decision support applications for conservation planning, and conduct ground testing to ultimately provide a case study on determining HCV areas in a particular landscape.


The concern about deforestation and climate change is driving increasing public scrutiny of land use decisions. Governments, private sector and NGOs have a common interest in identifying the areas important to conserve. Participatory approaches such as the identification of HCV areas can have a major influence. Our project aims to provide a scientifically robust and transparent basis for why a given area of forest is considered HCV. The aim is to test different thresholds, and to show these on maps, so that stakeholders can see the impacts of their decisions about what is important.


~Tim Rayden, Technical Advisor, Forestry and Climate Change, WCS Congo


Find an executive summary of the A Global Review of National Guidance for High Conservation Value report by CI here.

Peter Veit of WRI, Johnny Wilson of TNC and Emmanuel Sulle of University of Maryland talk after the meeting

2011 ABCG Land Use & Governance Thematic Meeting

An ABCG meeting on this issue was hosted by The Nature Conservancy (Arlington, VA) and African Wildlife Foundation (Nairobi, Kenya) on 5 February 2011. The two locations were linked by video conference. Co-Moderators of the meeting were Helen Gichoi, PhD, President, African Wildlife Foundation (in Nairobi, Kenya) and Peter Veit, Institutions and Governance, World Resources Institute (in Washington, DC). The work presented in the meeting represents the first of several years work by ABCG members African Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and World Resources Institute (with the Jane Goodall Institute joining them in FY2011) on the intersections of governance, rights and land management for conservation.

Click here to download the minutes of the meeting

Presentations included:

Government Restrictions on the Use of Private Land in Tanzania and Kenya (click for presentation)
Peter Veit, Institutions and Governance, World Resources Institute

Expanding Options for Habitat Conservation Outside Protected Areas: The Use of Environmental Easements, Leases, Payments for Ecosystem Services and Other Conservation Tools in Kenya (click for presentation)
Kathleen Fitzgerald, Director, Land Conservation, African Wildlife Foundation

The Impact of the Recent Constitution and Land Policy Reforms on Community Conservation Initiatives in Kenya (click for presentation)
Collins Odote, University of Nairobi, Nairobi

Peter Veit of WRI, Johnny Wilson of TNC and Emmanuel Sulle of University of Maryland talk after the meeting