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Strategic Programme 2 : Natural Resource Management

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Enhancing Africa's capacity to conserve and sustainably use its animal resources and their resource base.

Objective

To catalyse the development of policies and actions that will lead to the sustainable use and management of animal resources and the resource base on which they depend.

1. The context

Increasing population pressure, urbanization and rising incomes call for increased food production, both from the crop and animal sectors. These pressures are forcing the integration of crop and livestock systems, and intensification of existing mixed farming systems. All land on the continent classified as very suitable for crop agriculture is, however, already under cultivation. Consequently, there is increased use of fragile, marginal lands, including the conversion of traditional communal grazing lands into arable lands, restricting access to grazing resources and traditional transhumance routes. The increasingly sedentary lifestyle of traditional pastoralist communities accelerates soil degradation and threatens the natural resource base for continued crop (including forest) and animal production. At the same time, inappropriate application of technologies, bad management, recurring droughts and insecurity of access to resources all contributes to poor management of the natural resource bases for both crop and animal production, including fisheries, aquaculture and wildlife. This is often the cause of conflicts among communities within countries and across borders. Competition for resource access takes on strong political and governance dimensions where land tenure and access arrangements are severely inequitable and where agrarian and/or land reforms are a prerequisite for more sustainable arrangements.

Climate change presents an additional pressure on natural resources and will likely worsen conflict among communities. These changes are also causing genetic erosion and loss of biodiversity in both plants and animals. Overall, Africa is considered to be losing its natural resource base at rates higher than any other continent. In addition, in the wake of the climate change debate, intense discussions have started around the contribution of livestock to greenhouse gas emissions. The converse, the possible impact of climate change on future livestock production, is also an issue. In addition to development and application of appropriate technologies there is need for policies to support natural resources management under this complex and rapidly changing scenario. Given the transboundary nature of many of these issues, AU-IBAR is in a position to use its intergovernmental convening and advocacy roles to catalyse actions with Member States and RECs.