Eastern and Southern Africa

Conservation Areas and Species

IUCN engages in biodiversity conservation in Eastern and Southern Africa through its innovative thematic programme, Conservation Areas and Species (CAS).
Conservation areas and species

The CAS programme draws on evidence-based and best practice approaches to enhance the conservation and management of biodiversity and ecosystems in Eastern and Southern Africa. CAS operates through a “One Programme” approach working closely with IUCN members and Commissions to engage in a diverse set of biodiversity conservation actions ranging from the implementation of field projects to influencing policy and institutional frameworks at local, national, regional and global levels. The CAS programme is focused on enhancing management effectiveness, governance and equity of protected and conserved areas, strengthening multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder engagement to improve biodiversity conservation at landscape and seascape level, and supporting effective local community engagement in biodiversity conservation. The thematic programme also contributes to building the capacity of IUCN Members and partners, as well as the ESARO Secretariat to tackle new and emerging biodiversity conservation challenges in the region and to implement relevant international conventions such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)  , Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)  and the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. The programme also links closely to relevant work and regional priorities of Regional Economic Communities, the African Union and the United Nations Environment Assembly .

Existing projects in the CAS portfolio include:



The Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme (BIOPAMA) aims to improve the long-term conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, in protected areas and surrounding communities. It is an initiative of the ACP Group of States financed by the European Union’s 11th European Development Fund (EDF), jointly implemented by IUCN and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC). BIOPAMA aims at reinforcing the management and governance of protected and conserved areas across Eastern and Southern Africa. By providing unique and tailored support to protected area authorities at the local, national and regional level, BIOPAMA supports conservation actors in achieving their conservation objectives and to report more accurately their progress on relevant multilateral environmental agreements. BIOPAMA is focused on delivering tools and services for evidence-based biodiversity conservation and protected area management and provides specialised expertise in geospatial information systems and remote sensing through a Regional Observatory for Biodiversity and Protected Areas. BIOPAMA will also establish a grant-making mechanism to support site-based conservation actions on the ground. See more details here.

2.   Local Communities – First Line of Defence against Illegal Wildlife Trade (FLoD)

illegal wildlife trade, FLoD, protected areas, biodiversity, species Photo: IUCN / Akshay Vishwanath

Engaging communities as partners in combatting illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is increasingly recognized as critical, but has proven difficult to operationalise in a meaningful and sustainable manner. While there is increasing recognition among practitioners and policy makers of the need to engage rural communities that neighbour or live with wildlife as key partners in tackling IWT, a clear framework to guide, monitor, and assess such action has been lacking. With some exceptions, the role of rural communities in combatting escalating IWT in high-value species and the conditions under which community engagement does and does not work have received little attention. This has hampered efforts to effectively partner with communities in the fight against wildlife crime.

The FLoD initiative takes advantage of an iterative learning process to help local communities, project designers and implementers at site and landscape levels to understand the context-specific motivations and assumptions that underpin the activities (legal and illegal) of local communities. Lessons learned and theories of change are documented and serve as guidance for policy-makers, practitioners and donors to improve anti-IWT interventions. . The Local Communities – First Line of Defence against Illegal Wildlife Trade (FLoD) initiative is a formal partnership between the IUCN ESARO, the IUCN CEESP/SSC Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SuLi) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). FLoD is currently supported by the United States Department of the Interior International Technical Assistance Program. See more details here.

3.   Integrated planning to implement the CBD Strategic Plan and Increase Ecosystem Resilience:

BIOPAMA Photo: Kevin Emslie/ IUCN

IUCN ESARO is working with local government, NGOs and local communities to strengthen capacity for integrated development planning for biodiversity conservation and climate change resilience in Tanzania and Zambia. This project is focused on optimizing planning processes to support biodiversity and climate change adaptation objectives, including through the effective engagement of protected area authorities. The project works in four districts of Lake Tanganyika ecosystem: Tanganyika (formerly Mpanda) and Nkasi in Tanzania as well as Nsama and Mpulungu in Zambia. The Tanganyika and Nkasi Districts in Tanzania are situated in the Greater Mahale Landscape and encompass a number of Key Biodiversity Areas and Protected Areas such as the Katavi National Park and several forest reserves. Nsama and Mpulungu Districts in Zambia host Nsumbu National Park and adjacent Tondwa Game Management Area characterized by the presence of patches of rare and endangered Itigi-Sumbu thicket. Target stakeholders include government planners and conservation authorities, NGOs and local communities who are provided with advice, guidance, and assistance through a combination of global best practice and in-country capacity-building. This project is part of a global project being implemented by the IUCN Environmental Law Center, IUCN Global Protected Area Programme and three IUCN Regional Offices involving pilot projects in Vietnam and Colombia, in addition to the two countries in the IUCN ESARO region, and is funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). See more details here.

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