Importance of Natural Resources

YorkTalks 2020: The mountains and people of Africa: creating a sustainable future from the ground up


So I’m going to
look, really, at some of the work we’ve
been doing across will largely focus
on East Africa. And then very towards
the end of the talk, talk a little bit about
some of the work going across the university across
the African continent. So we just initially
look at a topographic map of African mountains
on the left– a map of where people live
within the African continent. You can see mountains
are incredibly important. Apart from the Nile Delta
and the Nile Valley, pretty much most of the people
within the African continent live within Africa on the
mountains, particularly notable, obviously, the
Ethiopian highlands, the Western East– valleys of eastern
Africa, the sort of Drakensberg of
southern Africa, sort of Mount
Cameroon over here, and, of course, the Atlas
Mountains up in Morocco. So they’re very important
in terms of societies and where people live. They’re also very important
in terms of conservation. It’s a picture of
Ngorongoro highlands– arguably one of the most
important national parks within Eastern Africa– a World Heritage site– absolutely gem of
biodiversity conservation. Outside of those
protected areas, animals are allowed to roam
fairly freely but, obviously, with increasing pressures of
climate change, population growth, land use conversion. These are some of the things
we’ll touch on later on. While those animals
roam freely, they also are able to roam into
agricultural areas. And, obviously, that
then causes conflicts. The African mountains are home
to a large number of people. But obviously, those
people intensively use that landscape to the
point where sometimes there’s up to sort of 500, 600
people per square kilometer. And some of the work we’ve been
doing over the last 10 years, particularly been looking at
the evolution of those terrace systems, how they
initiated, how they’ve been subsequently managed, have
they been fallen, sometimes, into disuse, and also how
affairs agencies are using them as a way to touch on issues,
such as sustainability and sustainable agriculture. Obviously, those types
of population densities mean, ultimately, there’s an
enormous land cover conversion. So this is a view across the
Jima highlands of Ethiopia. And we can see
extensive terracing of those hillsides, little
bits of forests remaining in the valleys but, effectively,
a transformed landscape. As well as being very important
in terms of agriculture, they’re also incredibly
important in terms of pastoral societies, cattle
keeping, and increasingly, particularly the last 100
or so years, cash crops, such as coffee, tea– and again, just a
view from Kilimanjaro. I don’t how it happened. Oh, goodness. A new view. New use of the pointer. So the last sort
of contextual slide is just a view
towards Kilimanjaro, used to emphasising some of
these rapid transformations that have occurred and
some of those challenges that these transformations
have resulted in. So I guess Kilimanjaro
is quite iconic, in that it’s home to these
diminishing glacier up on the roundabout
for 5,000 meters. It’s also an area undergoing
massive transformations in terms of
agricultural expansion. So this is an area in
between two very important national parks– Amboseli National Park
and Tsavo National Park. Now, effectively, this
is a migratory corridor for all these large ungulates,
such as elephants, zebras, buffalo, et cetera. And of course, that’s
breeding increasing conflicts between people, the wildlife. And it’s those
conflicts that we’re particularly interested
in exploring, through a tool that
we’ve developed about six or seven years ago
and subsequently being applied in a number
of different projects. So the tool that we
developed is called Acacia. It serves Swahili. It means tomorrow. And effectively, what
we do, we start off with running a whole series
of participatory workshops. So it’s bringing people
in from different sectors of the communities. In the context of the
initial development, it was focused around a project
looking at carbon and carbon change and how carbon could
evolve in Tanzania as part of a project with the
World Wildlife Fund through an initiative
called Reduced Emissions from Deforestation Degradation. So it’s one of the tools that
has often been negotiated at those sort of global summits
on climate change and treaties in terms of trying to
maximise carbon storage within our ecosystems. So we start off by bringing
people together, normally, about 30 or so people
from different sectors invariably because we’re
in this particular case. Certainly, we’re interested in
forestry or interested in land use change. Those sectors are
conservation, agricultural, forest departments,
government, NGO, and community organisations. Invariably, those 30 people
have very different perspectives of land use change– how their land is going
to evolve into the future. So we’re focusing
on future periods. And we invariably
focus on two periods– 2030 and 2063. And this connects with– the 2030 with the sustainable
development goals, 2063 with an African
Union development agenda. And I’m just going
to focus on the 2030. That’s of a near vision
of land use change. When we’re setting up
our workshops, of course, in different areas,
different people have different perspectives
and different things that drive in those
land use changes. So we have to incorporate
that diversity by running a series of workshops. And in Tanzania, on
a national scale, we ran seven workshops in
the seven different regions. In each of those
regions, we had– in each of the
regions, as I say, we had about 30 people,
about 190 or so people talking about land use change
towards 2030 in Tanzania. We take all of those very
diverse perspectives, and then translate those in
terms of land cover change. So we take all of that narrative
or the rich social information coming from those
individual participants with different voices and
effectively boil that down and converted one kilometer
grid cell from one land use type to another. In the initial application,
we were very much focused around carbon, around
forests, around change. And we have two
different scenarios– a business as usual scenario
and a green economy. So the green economy is
where there is appreciation of ecosystem services, there’s
alternative energy supplies, there are transitions to
sustainable use of forestry, effective governance,
effective protected areas versus the reverse under
a business as usual. We just play out land
cover change in Tanzania. Towards 2030, these
two maps here, we can see under the
business as usual, there’s much more
color in the landscape. That color effectively is
capturing land use change conversion of forest to
agricultural, largely. The difference between this and
that in terms of carbon storage is– it’s about 150 gigatons
of carbon difference, which equates to around
about $8 billion difference. And to a country
like Tanzania, that’s a significant amount
of potential funding. Of course, there
are many debates about commodifying
forests and how we should actually treat the
forest and try to manage them. But for many, many
years, people have been trying to conserve
forests, trying to prevent that sort of
conversion into agriculture, trying to promote and
maintain that diversity. When we start to put a price
tag on that forest, of course, then the politicians,
the people who are involved in actually
managing that forest, start to listen a bit more. They listen even
more when we start to think about how that
transition of carbon change also equates to impacts
on water, impacts on food, impacts on diversity. So what we were able to do again
across the Tanzania landscape was able to look at that
interaction between carbon change, between change in
water, and change in diversity and to see where there’s going
to be particularly high impacts in– say, on carbon
and biodiversity, other places where
there is going to be high impacts on
water and biodiversity, where there’s going to
be high impacts and all of those dimensions. And those impacts
are particularly felt across the mountains,
across the eastern arc mountains of Tanzania– probably one of the most
important biological hotspots across the world. This information is now part of
the National Carbon Monitoring Centre within Tanzania,
which was set up initially through some funding through
the Norwegian government as part of their commitments into
the global climate change negotiations but is also managed
by the vice president’s office and linked into the Department
of Forestry and bee-keeping. So again, it’s a tool which has
now been developed and is now within the Tanzanian system and
can be used by Tanzania to then calculate how much carbon
and how that impacts on some of those other vital
ecosystem services, like water and biodiversity. The nice thing about
the tool is that we can use it in a whole range
of different applications. So we’ve just seen an
application in Tanzania at a national scale. Here, we’re going to focus
on a very local scale– so a 40 kilometer transect
across Jima highlands of Ethiopia. Again, in this case,
we ran three workshops across that 40
kilometer transect. So transect, which is,
again, very densely settled piece of
mountain environment, large agroforestry, very
important coffee production location, is also home to
significant highly biodiverse patches of forest. So coffee is a very important
commodity, often grown in very traditional ways– so under existing forest. So this forest is
selectively cleared, and coffee is planted
as a shade crop. And it needs that shade
of the overlying trees to maintain a healthy
coffee production. This is also a project where
we had other colleagues looking at coffee disease, particularly
spread of coffee, leaf rust, and berry borers on the actual
coffee cherries themselves. Again, this is the sort of
future vision of that Jima highlands landscape. Focusing on 2030, four
different visions of the future. In this case,
looking at the, well, our sort of our
present day landscape, looking at an increase in
agricultural expansion, so movement away from coffee. These are all issues which
have been highlighted by those participation groups,
the stakeholders, which were brought into those workshops. One of the big challenges
there is these diseases, which are impacting
on the coffee, and production at the moment. And that has led to
people moving away from the traditional
coffee production. And therefore, the value of
that semi natural coffee forest has been lost. And along with that
loss is then increased agricultural conversion,
loss of diversity. So one vision is an expansion
of increasingly degraded land, increase in crop land. Another vision is of increase
in intensive coffee production– so moving away from traditional
shade managed coffee into a different type of coffee
crop, which doesn’t require the above ground trees to shape
the berries versus a vision where the price for
coffee increases. There is greater value into that
traditional coffee production system. Again, these types
of visions, they’re played out by those
participations, they’re played out
by the communities, and then can be used as a
tool to see about what choices you make in terms of what
futures you particularly want for your landscape
and, of course, the associated costs
with those futures. So last slide is really
just highlighting some of the broader work going
on across the university. This is just sort of the
tip of the iceberg of some of the work going on across the
African Research Network headed up by Stephanie
Wynne-Jones in Archeaology, Gerard McCann in History
and myself in Environment and Geography, focusing
around these environmental sustainability themes,
policy and governance. And as you can see, it involves
about 120 or so academics across the university,
across all faculties. And as you can
see from this map, in terms of where the
projects are based, has a really great
depth and breadth in terms of its sort of
geographical coverage. So again, just to acknowledge
a whole series of sort of postdoctoral
researchers, PhD students that have contributed to
this work and funders, and I’d like to leave it there. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]


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