Natural Resource Management
Conservation of Ader’s duiker in Zanzibar
In 1999 the population of Ader’s duiker (Cephalophus adersi), in Zanzibar was estimated to be only around 600 animals. Originally, this species ranged along the East African coast from from Tanzania to Somalia, but it is now restricted to Unguja island (Zanzibar) and some relict forests in Kenya (although the latter have had few recent substantiated sightings). The population status of Ader’s Duiker is now critical, given that numbers were estimated to have declined by some 88% from 5000 in 1982.
It is probable that hunting is still a threat to the Ader’s duiker population. Although hunting is being controlled through community management schemes (implemented by the Department of Commercial Crops, Fruits and Forestry (DCCFF)), it is often difficult to implement these schemes efficiently due to cultural sensitivities along with the pressures associated with high levels of poverty, population growth and the demand for natural resources
The goal of this Darwin Initiative project, which includes community initiatives and the involvement of local researchers, is to ensure the long-term survival of a critically endangered small antelope in Zanzibar, believed to be the last viable world population. More ..
Capacity building for temperate rainforest biodiversity conservation in Chile
This multidisciplinary project will develop capacity for biodiversity conservation in the temperate rainforest region of southern Chile. A new field station will be established to provide facilities and focus for research and environmental education. The research will analyse the influence of fragmentation of primary forests on biodiversity and focus on the importance of the more threatened lower altitude habitats, currently outside the national protected area system, for endemic mammal and avian fauna. This will give important information on the dynamics of large-scale biodiversity threats, and provide a framework for prioritising future activities in support of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Darwin Initiative will engage the private sector in sustainable forest management, through demonstration, training, and volunteer-driven actions, with the objective of improving habitat connectivity by expanding the existing protected area system, and engagement of local landowners in conservation management. More ..
Conservation of wetlands and associated biodiversity in Northern Zambia
The overall aim of this Darwin Initiative funded project is to establish the effects of burning regime and hydrological processes and their individual and combined effects on primary productivity and biodiversity of the woodland and grassland habitats in the Kasanka National Park, northern Zambia. Kasanka is a small state-owned but privately run national park.
The main flagship habitats and species at Kasanka are (mushito woodland, Papyrus swamp, seasonally inundated wetlands and associated grasslands, open-water habitats) and their associated fruit bats, Sitatunga, Puku, wetland and wading birds. There is a need to predict the ecosystem consequences, and mitigate the effects of hydrological, changes associated with reduced rainfall and increased temperature due to global climate change. Of particular importance are the effects on the extent of open water bodies, the extent and productivity of the woodlands and seasonally inundated grasslands, and the grazing ungulates which they support.
Fire is a heavily used tool in environmental management, but the scientific basis and consequences of the use of alternative burning regimes is not well understood.
Consequently, the specific objectives were to:
- Investigate the relationship between the hydrology and the primary and secondary productivity of the seasonally inundated grasslands.
- Generate a detailed understanding of the hydrological relationships between the areas of woodland, dambos and the main river systems of Kasanka, and how these mediate nutrient flow within the Kasanka system.
- Establish the ecological consequences of alternative burning strategies vis. year to year frequency and early versus late timing. Specifically it was aimed to investigate the consequences for subsequent soil nutrient levels, primary production, vegetation structural characteristics and plant species richness, and suitability and utilisation by large herbivores.
As well as providing a scientific under-pinning for management of Kasanka these objectives would also demonstrate the relationships between hydrology, burning regime and the large herbivores. This knowledge will facilitate the production of an integrated ecological management plan for the Kasanka National Park, and provide information that will be applicable and enhance wildlife conservation objectives in similar areas.
The project simultaneously provides support to an initiative which promotes wildlife and conservation education and awareness in the communities associated with the park. Darwin Initiative and
Chile - A study of the effects of natural factors and livestock competition on the population viability of the huemul (Hippocampus bisculus) in the temperate rainforest of Chilean Patagonia.
Two linked projects examined the ecology of the huemul, a rare deer, classified within CITES I, confined in its range to the isolated temperate rainforests of Southern Chile and neighbouring areas of Argentina . The projects, funded by the Darwin Initiative and the Wellcome Foundation , aimed to learn more about how huemul populations are affected by land-based industries in the region, such as agriculture and forestry, as well as nutritional deficiencies and diseases. They also studied competition with other wild ungulates - exotics, like the as red deer ( Cervus elaphus ), European hare ( Lepus europaeus ), wild boar ( Sus scrofa ), and indigenous species, such as guanaco ( Lama guanicoe ). The overall aim was to develop a conservation strategy for huemul that did not rely solely on protected areas, and that would accommodate the effects of a growing regional economy, which puts increasing pressure of economic activities, such as tourism, timber extraction, mining and livestock grazing.
The investigations concentrated on behavioural ecology, using radio tracking and faecal pellet counts to generate information on ranging behaviour, dispersal, seasonal and diurnal patterns of habitat use, interactions with livestock, rates of juvenile recruitment and adult survival. Data collected was analysed within a Geographical Information System to identify natural corridors and artificial barriers.
Though studying the interactions between huemul and livestock, this work did not involve any assessment of the farming systems in the area themselves. Information on these systems (livestock numbers, grazing management etc,) is important if any recommendations are to be made e.g. for conservation measures that would impact on farming practice in the region.
In order to fill this gap a survey, taking the form of a series of semi-structured interviews was carried out. Information was collected on grazing management practice, stock numbers and livestock movements. Local knowledge about the huemul was also elicited from the land users, e.g. awareness of its legal status, sightings, their perceptions of the interactions of deer with managed stock, effect of livestock diseases, poaching activities, presence of feral dogs and any control that the farmer may undertake. This data will be used to supplement existing data in developing a conservation strategy for huemul directed at people living and working in or near huemul habitat. More ..
Chile - Community conservation action plan for the threatened long-tailed chinchilla
Investigating how chinchilla conservation can be combined with sustainable livelihoods for farmers in the marginal farming landscape, and generate a Chinchilla Recovery Plan in association with Chilean NGOs, university researchers and the Chilean government conservation organisation
. Funded by the Darwin Initiative More ..
Pakistan , India and China - Natural Resource Management in the Mountain Regions of Asia : Community-Led Research Requirements.
The objective of this EC-funded project was to identify the key research requirements for natural resource management in the semi-arid areas of the Karakoram-Hindu Kush-Himalayan region, which includes Afghanistan , Bangladesh , Bhutan , China , India , Myanmar , Nepal and Pakistan . A key element of the proposal was the incorporation of the concerns and aspirations of local communities into the identification of those research requirements. This was achieved in two stages. Firstly, to ensure the relevance of any proposed research to local communities and improve the likelihood of the sustainable implementation of research findings, an assessment of existing local knowledge with the participation of community members, NGOs and grassroots organisations took place. This was achieved through the innovative use of participatory video techniques, allowing local people to communicate their views and ideas directly to scientists, senior policy makers and donors. Community groups in three of the KHKH countries ( India , Pakistan and China ) took part in participatory workshops and individuals were trained to make a film using participatory video techniques. Each group decided which were the most important topics to be incorporated in each film. Secondly, a research workshop was held, to which representatives of national research organisations and universities, government departments, development organisations, NGOs and other interested parties were invited from across the KHKH Region. The aims of the workshop were to identify and agree the key research issues in natural resource management in the semi-arid areas of the region. Edited versions of the videos were presented at the workshop to inform the discussion. The workshop allowed for an equitable exchange of views between all the key stakeholders and led to a synthesis of traditional and scientific knowledge towards an agreement of the major research needs, how these can be achieved and the relative likelihood of their success. Poster
Links related to this project: http://www.icimod.org.np/ and http://www.insightshare.org/
Madagascar - Madagascar's Spiny Forest
The Indian Ocean island of Madagascar is renowned for its large number of endemic species, such as the lemurs. However, Madagascar is also one of the poorest countries in the world, with a rapidly growing human population that places an increasing demand on natural resources, causing widespread habitat loss and species' extinctions. Madagascar is therefore recognised as one of the top priorities for biodiversity conservation. One habitat particularly rich in biodiversity is the spiny forest of southern Madagascar; 95% of spiny forest plants are endemic to that region. However the spiny forest is being rapidly deforested for charcoal production, agriculture and livestock grazing. Species endemic to the spiny forest, such as the radiated tortoise, are subject to heavy exploitation which threatens these species with extinction. The Madagascar government and NGOs are working to conserve the spiny forest but the ecology of this threatened ecosystem is poorly understood. The impact of endemic and introduced herbivores in the spiny forest in unknown and the sustainability of both traditional and new practices of local communities has never been evaluated. We are currently seeking funding to better understand ecological and human interactions within the spiny forest ecosystem, with the aim of increasing community involvement in evidence-based conservation management of the spiny forest ecosystem. Photos ...
Kenya - Sustaining livelihoods of the pastoral poor by community management and conservation of wild resources
This project aims to promote natural resource management strategies, in cooperation with local stakeholders, for the sustainable management of wild resources by pastoral communities. Participatory tools will be used to assist local communities to develop resource management plans for wild products, taking into account ecological and socio-economic factors as well as the impact of exploitation, livestock grazing and other land use practices. Funded by the Macaulay Development Trust.
China - Developing agroforestry systems for the Southern Hill regions of the Yangtze River in Sichuan
New systems of agricultural production were developed in collaboration with the Chinese Institute for Soil Sciences suitable for the relocation of over 1 million people that were displaced with the building of the Three Gorges Dam. Funded by the Royal Society.
Zimbabwe - Natural resources management within multispecies systems in the mid-Zambezi valley: Implications for sustainable development in dry lands areas of Southern Africa
A holistic understanding of the resource use in the mid-Zambezi Valley was developed using a multidisciplinary approach. The research concentrated on the biological processes and functioning within the ecosystem and integrated this with existing information describing the decision making processes or resource managers at a range of scales. Funded by the European Commission.
South Africa - Response of general arthropod diversity to savanna management by cattle and game
Investigating the impact that cattle and goats, or game have on insect biodiversity in thornveld and bushveld savanna in the Eastern Cape. The agriculture of this area is characterised by extensive grazing systems but there has also been conversion of land to game management. In 1999, research was extended to the Great Fish River Game Reserve complex where populations of several megaherbivore species, smaller antelope and warthogs are maintained. There is particular interest in the effects of large-herbivore browsing and grazing on grasshoppers and bush crickets since these species are particularly sensitive to habitat structure and the degree of disturbance by large herbivores.
Funded by the Royal Society and the National Research Foundation, Republic of South Africa.
Bulgaria - Options for local biodiversity management in protected areas
A workshop addressing local funding opportunities in implementing innovative sustainable nature conservation projects in protected areas in Bulgaria. The main issues covered included: economic development opportunities arising from biodiversity management, the process of formal and informal institution building for the delivery of biodiversity management benefits and potential sources of external funding for protected area managers. Funded by the Macaulay Development Trust.