Enhancing Wildlife Conservation in the Productive Southern Rangelands of Kenya through a Landscape Approach
The Government of Kenya has made significant investments in most protected areas (PAs) in the country. However, despite the high returns from wildlife based tourism and the large baseline of investment in protected area management in Kenya, conflicting interests between conservation and development persist in the greater Amboseli landscape, where the ecological viability of the PA estate to sustain healthy populations of wildlife is threatened by loss of animal dispersal areas, migratory corridors and drought refugia.
The greater Amboseli landscape is part of the Maasai lands of the Southern Kenya rangelands where communities continue to experience conservation in terms of protectionism and a segregation approach-- contrary to their preferred approach of integration of people and nature--to deliver both development and conservation benefits. The long-term solution proposed by this project is to conserve the Amboseli landscape’s threatened species and habitats, and especially the charismatic elephants and expansive swamps, and simultaneously promote sustainable development of the ecosystem for the benefit of the present and future generations.
The Amboseli landscape has little arable potential, but it has enormous national and global heritage and tourism value, which PAs alone cannot secure in the long term. The solution to the conservation challenge lies in embracing a landscape approach to conservation and development, allowing the ecosystem to provide a broad range of benefits and services to the broad range of interests dependent on it, including wildlife, pastoralists, off-site communities (water) and indeed the environment. This will only be achieved if there is meaningful involvement of the local communities in the landscape approach, given the better legacy of coexistence over millennia of joint use of the land. This proposed project in the Greater Amboseli landscape in Kenya satisfies the requirements for GEF financing under GEF Biodiversity Focal Area, Strategic Objective one: Improve sustainability of Protected Area systems and two; Mainstream biodiversity, conservation and sustainable use into production landscapes. It will provide a resource governance model that allows communities and conservationists to utilise revitalised skills, and, guided by a knowledge based landscape planning, take advantage of modified policies and market based incentives to balance resource use and resource conservation across the greater Amboseli, to secure a broader range of benefits for the onsite and offsite dependents, in a more equitable and sustainable manner.
The project partners (Kenya Wildlife Service, Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, African Conservation Centre, Big Life and Nature Kenya) will, according to designated roles and responsibilities; support national efforts to secure conservancy management, set up a series of conservancies across the landscape, map out and secure wildlife dispersal areas, secure connectivity corridors between the core PAs of Amboseli, Tsavo and Chyulu Hills, to offer greater protection of selected species . The partners will also catalyse a shift from the current sector-focused planning to a more integrated land use planning system; thus increasing productivity of livestock and agriculture while protecting environmental services, including the watershed services of the Chyulu Hills.
The project will comprise three complementary components, which will be cost-shared by the GEF and co-financing. Each addresses a different barrier and has discrete outcomes and are defined as follows:
Component 1: Effective governance framework for multiple use and threat removal outside PAs.
Component 2: Landscape based multiple use/management delivers multiple benefits to the widest range of users, reducing threats to wildlife from outside the ecosystem.
Component 3: Increased benefits from tourism shared more equitably.