Inside global 30x30 goal to save nature

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) engineers excavate a trench along Laikipia Nature Conservancy, October 4, 2021. [Kennedy Gachuhi, Standard]

In Kenya, a profound transformation is underway, set against the backdrop of the country's diverse wildlife and stunning landscapes.

The 30x30 initiative has sparked a global call, aiming to designate 30 per cent of Earth's land and ocean areas as protected zones by 2030.

The initiative emerged during the 2022 UN biodiversity conference, COP15, where countries joined forces to address the alarming destruction of nature.

Kenya, like many countries, faces significant challenges in meeting this ambitious target. Human activities, urbanisation, and agriculture have put immense pressure on natural habitats and wildlife. Large ranches, once dedicated to agriculture or livestock farming, have also contributed to the fragmentation of habitats and the decline of biodiversity.

According to Alfred Mwanake CEO Taita Taveta Wildlife Conservancies Associations (TTWCA) Kenya is leading the way with a pioneering approach - the conversion of ranches into conservancies.

"This innovative conservation model transforms private ranchlands into protected areas that prioritise wildlife preservation, sustainable land use, and eco-friendly tourism," he says.

"A crucial aspect of conservancy success lies in engaging local communities. By involving nearby residents in decision-making processes and offering sustainable livelihoods, such as eco-tourism-related jobs, conservation becomes more meaningful and beneficial for everyone involved," he adds.

Conservation efforts also prove economically viable for landowners through eco-tourism revenue. By inviting visitors to experience Kenya's rich biodiversity, conservancies generate income that can be reinvested in further conservation efforts.

The benefits of conservancies extend beyond economic gains. They create wildlife corridors and larger habitats, allowing animals to move freely and preserving critical ecosystems.

Rigorous research and monitoring within these conservancies are also vital for understanding biodiversity impact, identifying challenges, and implementing effective long-term conservation strategies.