Most protected areas in Tridom vulnerable to climate change
The study assessed vulnerability in terms of potential climate change impacts on biodiversity within the 11 protected areas in Tri-national Dja-Odzala-Minkebe (TRIDOM) landscape. Habitat change, species loss and resource pressure from neighbouring communities is likely to increase as climate change impacts livelihoods. It finds that deforestation leading to habitat loss, loss of resources and loss of carbon are exposing the landscape to climatechange risks. The study, which ranks the protected areas from resilient, vulnerable to highly vulnerable, shows that most of them are vulnerable. Of the 11 protected areas surveyed, two are ranked resilient, two highly vulnerable and the rest vulnerable.
With a surface area spanning over 15 million hectares and harbouring 11 protected areas across three countries (Cameroon, Gabon and the Republic of Congo), TRIDOM makes up nearly 10% of the Congo Basin Rainforest. It isone of the priority conservation sites in Africa and one of 12 Central AfricanForest Commission (COMIFAC) transboundary conservation programs inthe Congo Basin.
According to the study, potential habitat changes within TRIDOM protectedareas is relatively low but for two: Boumba Bek in Cameroon and Ivindo inthe Republic of Congo. Predicted species loss is high for all protected areas. Poaching for ivory and bush meat, deforestation and forest degradation constitute the main threats to wildlife and forest, thereby jeopardizing conservation efforts in the area.
The TRIDOM landscape has witnessed over 60% decline in forest elephant population during the last decade due to poaching. These factors, coupledwith the fact that most protected areas are underfunded, leave the landscape vulnerable.
Small scale agriculture and timber harvesting account for 95% of forestclearing. With over two thirds of TRIDOM landscape under logging concessions, there has been an increasing movement of people in search of jobs. Deforestation reduces the forest’s resilience to climate change.
The study states that, “in the TRIDOM landscape, climate change will exacerbate and extend the already severe threats to biodiversity and the protectedarea system which forms the core of conservation efforts.” It proposes the strengthening of conservation measures to secure biodiversity and natural capital, including strengthening biodiversity protection, holding logging companies accountable, strengthening indigenous peoples’ rights over landand resources and develop and implement a strategy to influence urbanhousehold choices and reduce unsustainable demands for bush meat. This, according to the study, should form the basis of a holistic strategy to increasethe resilience and effectiveness of TRIDOM’s protected areas in the light ofall existing and future impacts.”