Wildlife conservancies will today come under scrutiny in a workshop to discuss wildlife tourism as a response to climate change. The workshop is organized under the auspices of the Enabling livestock based economies in Kenya to adapt to climate change: A Review of payment for ecosystem services from wildlife tourism as a climate change adaptation option.
It will examine through an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) the viability of emerging conservancies within and around the protected parks in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs). Participants will also discuss policy options that either support or regress the development of conservancies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Pastoral societies are vulnerable to climate change because they inhabit drylands with repetitive drought and often have an insufficient financial buffer to absorb the shocks that droughts create. Conservancies are seen as one way to adapt to this climate variability as they provide diversification of the income portfolio into activities less prone to drought. This source of income may potentially increase the resilience of pastoral societies to climate change.
In addition, in some instances, conservancies also allow for the maintenance of open rangelands under a changing land tenure system that leads to fragmentation. Open rangelands are critical for mobility for pastoralists and their livestock especially during drought periods.
Recently, in many parts of Kenya community based conservancies have been developed, where land is managed by pastoralists to promote both wildlife and livestock to attract tourists and generate revenue.
The community based conservancy model is often highlighted for its potential to strengthen resilience of pastoral communities to climate change. However, it is unclear what the effect is on household income, and how the income generated affects the resilience to climate change. Resilience of household income to climate change also depends on equitable distribution of PES revenue, yet, there is little insight on the equity of access to benefits derived.
The study which has brought together researchers with expertise in development economics and ecosystem services respectively from ILRI, the University of Hohenheim (Stuttgart) and the Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) in Müncheberg will today be complemented by practitioners including government workers, non-governmental agency workers, private partners knowledgeable about conservancies and representatives of pastoral communities based around the conservancies.
This project is sponsored by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and was officially launched by Chancellor Angela Merkel, when she visited ILRI in 2011.