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Rwanda to host Africa’s biggest conservation meet

Kaddu Sebunya, AWF CEO Hailemariam Desalegn and Rwanda Environment minister Jeanne Mujawamariya.

Rwanda is set to host the largest conservation congress in March to chart the way for a new funding model for Africa’s protected areas, delegates attending a preparatory meeting on Thursday were told.

The African Protected Areas Congress (APAC), to be held between March 7-12, is being convened for the first time in Africa by the African Wildlife Foundation and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It will be one of the first large in-person gatherings to be held on the continent.

According to Rwanda’s Minister for Environment Jeanne Mujawamariya, the country’s has put in place stringent health protocols to ensure the safety of visiting delegates.

AWF CEO Kaddu Sebunya said the continent has no option, but to look inwardly to fund her conservation instead of relying on the age-old methods of foreign donor-funded conservation.

“Of the wildlife left on this planet, Africa is home to a wide variety of habitats as nine of 14 vegetation types identified globally are in Africa. Africa has the second-largest tropical forest after the Amazon. We sustain some of the last major mammal migrations patterns on earth. Of the 24 current and historic large mammal migration species and subspecies, 14 are in Africa and nine of those persist in six landscapes,” said Sebunya.

Humanity has caused the loss of 83 per cent of all wild animals and nearly half of plants since the dawn of civilization, half of these having been lost in the last 50 years.

The global tree count has also fallen by 46 per cent since the beginning of human civilization.

Former Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalgn said that although African nations have created over 8,500 protected areas covering 14.1 per cent of African terrestrial areas and 17.1 per cent of its marine area, most remain underfunded with scientists predicting that under the current scenario. We could lose as much as 60 per cent of this area.

The meeting also unveiled other patrons to the congress including former Botswana President, Festus Mogae and former Niger President, Issoufou Mahamadou.