The 21st Century Scramble for Africa...
Despite extensive exploitation since the last quarter of the 19th century, Central Africa still possesses a wealth of natural resources. However, such riches present contemporary challenges for the region. While most African states have been independent of Europe for 50 years or more, growing and conflicting demands on timber, mineral and other resources, coupled with the social, economic and environmental impacts of globalisation, require African leaders to consider wisely their development decisions and the sustainable management of their natural and social capital.
WCS Europe supports central African countries to generate objective and robust answers to these modern world challenges. We believe that transparent and participatory spatial planning is key to reconciling conservation and development objectives in Central Africa. Human livelihoods can be improved, wildlife protected and natural ecosystem services maintained if the needs of all stakeholders are taken into consideration. Enabling conditions must be established, tools developed and common platforms put in place to allow cross-sector and multi-stakeholder input into planning decisions. It is important too, to learn from past lessons, to think, plan and act at the level of entire ecosystems, and to understand that managing the human footprint in any particular environment depends largely on integrating civil society into planning processes.
|Spatial Planning is a process for analysing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in terrestrial and marine areas to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives.
Well-conducted spatial planning can:
Reduce conflicts between users and increase regulatory efficiency;
Ensure that the interests of rural communities are taken into proper consideration in decisions that may affect their livelihoods;
Manage and, where appropriate, facilitate the development of emerging industries;
Protect wildlife corridors outside protected areas; and,
Help maintain ecological processes and the ecosystem services they support.
Our goal is very ambitious but we are uniquely positioned to be able to work closely with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s long-standing country programmes in Gabon, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon, and to benefit from their close working relationships with national and local government partners, community groups and other non-governmental organisations.
The principal measure of success for WCS Europe is how well we contribute to halting biodiversity loss in Central Africa by facilitating the application of spatial planning as a tool for improved natural resource governance. In the course of 2012 and 2013 we will be developing field projects in pursuit of that broad objective, seeking to facilitate and support national and local processes to manage the rich natural capital of Central Africa in a sustainable way.
Other WCS Europe projects currently underway are described in the Projects link to the left.