29 sites in L.Victoria basin listed among key biodiversity areas in need of critical conservation
SEE ALSO :Maize falls out of favour in Mt ElgonAccording to the IUCN, the sites are critical and the list of threatened species found in these sites will be used to guide decision making and conservation action. The IUCN provides technical expertise towards conservation of such areas. KBAs are identified using globally standardised criteria and thresholds and have clearly defined boundaries. The sites are also a scientific guide to development and expansion of the existing protected areas network in the basin. According to the report, the Lake Victoria Basin is internationally recognised for its high levels of freshwater species diversity, which are of critical importance to local livelihoods and national economies within the region. The ecosystem is, however, highly threatened with pollution, overfishing, increased agricultural practices and invasive species. “Given the unique and diverse nature of freshwater species within the basin, the dependence of rural communities and regional economies on these species and the high levels of threat, there is a clear need for a stronger focus on conservation of freshwater biodiversity,” the report states. Climate change is cited as having a huge impact on species, particularly on the region’s freshwater fishes that are highly vulnerable. Unique biodiversity Without immediate action, the report states, much of the unique biodiversity will be lost, and the livelihoods of many people in the basin would be negatively impacted. Periodic update of species, by the IUCN Red List assessments, and monitoring of key biodiversity areas will also enable trends in the projected extinction risk of freshwater species to be tracked.