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Governmental Initiatives for Peatland Conservation through ecotourism in the Okavango Delta, Botswana


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GLF Bonn 2018 Side Event 3.2: Lessons learned and best practices for the management of tropical peatlands: An inter-tropical dialogue (

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Governmental Initiatives for Peatland Conservation through ecotourism in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

  1. 1. Governmental Initiatives for Peatland Conservation through ecotourism in the Okavango Delta, Botswana Joseph E. Mbaiwa, PhD Okavango Research Institute University of Botswana Peatland South-South Dialogue : the Global Landscape Forum 30th November -3nd December 2018 Bonn, Germany
  2. 2. Where is Okavango Delta? Located in north-western Botswana, Southern Africa British Prot until 1966. Pop of 2.2 million people. Democracy, every 5 years there is an election
  3. 3. Okavango Delta – Biodiversity Natural wetlands (e.g. Okavango) in developing countries are popular because they are home to a lot of biodiversity (e.g. plants, animals, habitats, etc)
  4. 4. Okavango Delta –Tourism destinations Wetlands like the Okavango have recently become destinations for international tourists interested in wilderness experience
  5. 5. Policies & Plans Policies/Plans Objectives Ngamiland Tourism Development Plan (NDTP) (2007) provides a framework for tourism development in Ngamiland district, as a component of Okavango delta management Plan The Plan is to strive for the development of a world-class nature-based tourism destination that is economically sustainable and optimizes benefits to local communities and the nation, within agreed Limits of Acceptable Change. The Plan conceptually divided Ngamiland District into Tourism Development Areas (TDAs), with MEP falling within the Maun TDA. Okavango Delta Management Plan (ODMP) 2008; reviewed 2012 Prepared mainly as a result of the Government of Botswana’s ratification of the convention on wetlands - The Ramsar Convention – on the 4th of April 1997. ODMP reiterated the need for the conservation and wise use of the Okavango Delta’s resources. Its overall goal is: “To integrate resource management for the Okavango Delta that will ensure its long-term conservation and that will provide benefits for the present and future well-being of the people through sustainable use of its natural resources”.
  6. 6. Okavango Delta Management Plan – ODMP of 2007 • Sustainable development is defined as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs“ • The sustainable management of the Okavango Delta & natural resources is currently defined by the ODMP of 2007. • The ODMP, was developed from 2003 to 2006. The ODMP Goal is: "to integrate resource management for the Okavango Delta that will ensure its long-term conservation and that will provide benefits for the present and future well being of the people, through sustainable use of its natural resources"(ODMP 2007).
  7. 7. ODMP Strategic Goals 1. To establish viable institutional arrangements to support integrated resource management of the Okavango Delta; 2. To ensure the long term conservation of the Okavango Delta and the provision of existing ecosystem services; and, 3. To sustainably use the wetland resources of the Okavango Delta for the long-term benefits of all stakeholders (ODMP, 2008).  The three ODMP strategic goals are targeted at the three thematic areas; the institutional, the bio-physical and the socio-economic dimensions of management.
  8. 8. Zonation of Okavango Delta – TDAs To achieve Sustainable tourism: The wetland is divided in seven (7) tourism development areas. Tourism becomes sustainable if it is economically viable, ecologically sensitive and culturally appropriate (Wall, 1997). ODMP has recommendations for carrying capacities/LACs in lodges. ODMP has a Waste Management Strategy & types of infrastructure required in the Delta. ODMP stipulates benefit sharing by stakeholders in the Okavango.
  9. 9. Policies & Plan Botswana Ecotourism Certification System, Ecotour Standards & Accommodation Standards, (BECS) 2008 The BECS encourage and support responsible environmental, social and cultural behaviour by tourism businesses and ensure that investors provide a quality eco- friendly product to consumers. The BECS comprises a set of performance standards, designed to meet/exceed basic environmentally responsible standards or legislation. The Botswana National Ecotourism Strategy (NES) of 2002 NES is to create an environment in which all elements of tourism development planning and management facilitate, promote and reward adherence to the key guiding ‘principles’ of ecotourism by all of those involved in the tourism industry. These include the following:  Minimizing negative social, cultural and environmental impacts.  Maximizing the involvement in, and the equitable distribution of economic benefits to, host communities and citizen entrepreneurs. The Wildlife Conservation Policy of 1986 (under review) Policy governs the sustainable utilisation of wildlife resources Policy provides for the establishment and management of national parks and game reserves, wildlife management areas, controlled hunting areas and other matters connected therewith. Tourism Policy Year: 1990 (under review) Policy designed to ensure that tourism activities are carried out on an ecologically sustainable basis. Policy advocates a “high cost - low volume” tourism approach
  10. 10. Institutional Framework Institution Roles and Functions Department of Tourism (DoT) Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism (MEWT)  Regulates tourism enterprises;  Sets out procedures with respect to applications for tourism licensing;  Undertakes inspections; Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA)  Competent authority for the implementation of the EIA  Responsible for overall coordination of environmental activities in Botswana; Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP)  Statutory responsibility for management of National Parks and Game Reserves and Sanctuaries  Enforces all legislation relating to wildlife resources;  Responsible to raise public awareness and appreciation of Botswana’s wildlife resources;  Responsible for issuing guides and hunters licenses capturing and culling, as well as fish and other wildlife farming permits.  Support for communities under the CBNRM policy Department of Forestry and Range Resources (DFRR)  Statutory responsibility over the utilisation of range resources including forest reserves management and implementation of the Forest Act and Policy;  Support to communities under the CBNRM policy;  Prevention and control of wild fires Department of Waste Management and Pollution Control (DWMPC)  Providing policy direction in all matters pertaining to sanitation, waste management and pollution control;  Monitoring the collection, disposal and treatment of controlled wastes  Monitoring the level of pollutants in the environment.
  11. 11. Lessons Learnt & Best Practices International Protocols & Recognition  In 1997 the Okavango Delta was declared a Wetland of International Importance – a Ramsar site (hence referred to as the Okavango Delta Ramsar Site - ODRS.  ODRS covers 55,374 square kilometres and is one of the largest Ramsar sites in the world.  In 2014, Okavango Delta became the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site  Okavango Delta Management Plan in 2009 adopted to manage land use practices in the wetland
  12. 12. Lessons & Best Practice Institutional & Legal Framework • Establish Government Ministry & Government departments that ensure management of wetlands • Rectify and adopt international protocols that ensure management of biodiversity and wetlands. • Adopt policies and strategies that ensure the sustainable use of natural resources in wetlands. • Ensure local communities and stakeholders benefit from tourism development in wetlands to get conservation buy-in