Botswana Environment Botswana’s stock of natural resources includes land, minerals, water, flora and fauna, and is the backbone of the economy and the livelihoods of its inhabitants. The most important environmental issues are: land degradation and the related issues of desertification, soil erosion and biodiversity loss; conflicting land uses; climate change; access to water for household, livestock, arable and industrial use; water scarcities; fuel wood depletion and lack of alternative forms of energy; and the protection of cultural and natural heritages. Although water is a scarce resource in Botswana, the country is firmly on course to ensuring universal access to safe drinking water. The proportion of the population with sustainable access to safe drinking water has increased, rising from 77% of the population in 1996 to 97.7% by the year 2000. Economic activities, industry, and farming not only consume land resources but also pollute them. Population growth has led to the annexation of more virgin land to m eet human needs such as shelter, energy and water, and the generation of higher volumes of waste. In an effort to remedy this, the Government has opted for integrated land use planning to man-age land use conflicts that are fueled by expansion of human settlements and economic activity into new territories. The railway system in Botswana runs only in the eastern part of the country and has enabled very fast growth of human settlements along it. As a result the concentration of human settlements along the railway line has, strained the eastern ecosystems due to increased fuelwood demand, accumulation of garbage, pollution of the air, and other consequences of such urbanization. In each of the years between and including 2002 and 2005, Botswana contributed US$ 6,000 to the Environment Fund. In accordance with the Voluntary Indicative Scale of Contributions (VISC) for this biennium, 2006- 2007, Botswana was invited to maintain the annual payment at the same high level of US$ 6,000, which is close to 70% of the UN scale of assessment and very high for a developing country. Unfortunately, no payments have been made yet in this biennium and the country should be encouraged to make a contribution as soon as possible. The Government of Botswana acceded to the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol on 4th December 1991 and acceded to the London Amendment and Copenhagen Amendment on 13 th May 1997. A Country Programme to phase-out ODS (Ozone Depleting Substances) in Botswana was approved in February1992 by the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund. Since then over US$ 2 million were approved by the Executive Committee for ODS phase out activities in the country. Most of these activities are being implemented by UNEP and GTZ. Industry and Chemicals Botswana is not party to the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic pollutants. But the country has ratified the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, on 20 May 1998. Biodiversity The Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan Stocktaking Report identified seven distinct eco -regions. These are Zambezian flooded Grasslands, Zambezian Halophytics, Zambezian and Mopane Woodlands, Kalahari Acacia, Kalahari Xeric Savanna, South African Bushveld and Zambezia Baikiaea Woodlands. Of these ecoregions four are vulnerable i.e. South African Bushveld (deforestation, overgrazing, range degradation and veld fires), Zambezia Baikiaea Woodlands (cattle and overgrazing and change in vegetation communities), Zambezia Halophytics (mining, rangeland degradation, fires, wind erosion, fires, water extraction, fencing, increased salinity of surface water, decreased surface fresh water, overgrazing, lack of protection for critic avian breeding sites, uncontrolled tourism/ disturbance and wildlife conflicts) and Kalahari Acacia (increased cattle ranching, land transformation and degradation, fires, fences, climate change, poaching and invasive alien species). The status of the rest of the ecoregions is stable and intact. Eco-regions of special concern support a rich diversity of birds as well as large populations of Botswana elephants, buffalo and lechwe. The Zambezian Flooded Grasslands are the world’s largest flooded savannas with extraordinary concentrations of large vertebrates. Although there has never been a comprehensive survey of plants in Botswana it is estimated that there are between 2,150 and 3,000 species of plants representing some 128 botanical families. This lack of knowledge on diversity, status of some species and critical habitats seriously complicates the efforts of conservation of biodiversity in the country. Botswana has ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity in1992, and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Botswana is also Party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Natural Resources Botswana is endowed with valuable natural resources and an environment that can potentially sustain its development processes and its people into the future. Over 34% of the total land area is under protection in national parks, game reserves or wildlife management areas. Some of these areas contain unique habitats of ecological importance (such as the Okavango Delta) and cultural significance (such as the Tsodilo Hills). Though Botswana boasts of unique ecological features they are however vulnerable and the prime challenge is to achieve sustainable management of renewable natural resources in a semi-arid environment amidst a rapidly growing human population. If left unmanaged, these influences could lead to a general decline in the natural resources base typified by low agricultural yields, reduced wildlife populations and distribution, reduced yields in fishing and veldt products, and consequently reduced opportunities and choices especially for rural communities. Rural dwellers have traditionally relied on natural resources for their food, housing materials, medicines, household implements, energy and cultural activities, on a sustainable basis. However, the lack of economic options and increasing poverty are threatening this balance, as people tend to harvest beyond even what they know as sustainable levels, just to meet immediate needs, in turn compromising the regeneration capacity of the resource. As the natural resource base continues to diminish, it is feared that rural dwellers, especially women, will progressively become impoverished. Poverty levels were recorded at 47% of the population in 1997, according to the UN Common Country Assessment, 2001. Context of International Environmental Governance The Common country assessment for Botswana, prepared in 2001, concluded that the primary human development challenges, which require collaboration between th e Government and the United Nations, are poverty, HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation. Environmental degradation constitutes a threat to the long-term sustainability of Botswana’s development. Fortunately, the governments supports environmental conservation and has created a wide array of legislation, policies and programmes to protect the country’s rangeland, wetlands, biological diversity, water and other natural resources. It is currently building capacity to implement multilateral agreements and its own environmental legislation and policies. International Conventions and Protocol s Botswana is also a signatory or party to the following environment agreements, treaties and conventions. The A frican Convention on the conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (The Algiers Convention) The Convention on International Trade in E ndangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea The Convention on Biological Diversity (CB D) Cart agena Protocol on Bios afety to the Convention on Biological Diversity The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) The Convention on Wetlands of Importance as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention) Botswana The Vienna Convention for the protection of the Ozone lay er The Montreal Protocol on the Substances that deplete the Ozone layer The London Amendment to the Montreal Protocol The Copenhagen Amendment to the Mont real Protocol The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary movements of Hazardous wastes and their disposal Protocol on S hared Water Courses systems in SADC Helsinki Convention on the Law of Non-navigational Use of International Watercourses The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resourc es (IUCN) Permanent Okavango River Basin Commission (OKA COM) Environment Policies The government has developed over twenty-five separate laws related to environment al and resource management issues as well as many national policies, some of which are listed below. National Conservation Strategy (1990): Demonstrates Botswana's commitment to the sustainable use and conservation of the country's biodiversity. Seeks to increase the effectiveness with which natural resources are used and managed, and to integrate the efforts of ministries and non-governmental interest groups to maximize the conservation of natural resources in the country. Wildlife Conservation policy (1986): Allows for the management and utilization of wildlife resources. Energy policy (draft): The policy aims to lessen deforestation caused by fuel -wood collection, and ensure that all households and community servic es have access to adequat e and affordable energy services. Agriculture policy (1991): Seeks to utilize the country's land resources, both grazing and arable, without long-term damage to the environment. Indigenous Livestock Species policy (draft): Ensures the conservation of indigenous livestock species to achieve food s ecurity and to guarantee a future supply of animal products and biodiversity in Botswana. Plant Genetic Resources policy (draft ): Formulated after the realization that sundry varieties of crops are being replaced by modern cultivars, which are often less diverse. Supports institutions concerned with agro-diversity with the objective to conserve and maintain the diversity of plant genetic resources material through in situ and ex situ conservation. Tourism policy (draft ): Promotes low-volume, high-value t ourism in B otswana aimed at a market of middle- to high-income patrons. Ensures relatively fewer disturbances to the natural environment with less tourist traffic. Water Master Plan (1991): A set of plans arising form t he extensive analysis options for the development and management of water resources of B otswana until 2020. The plans not only outline the basic physical and engineering developments, but also take into account economic, social, environmental, institutional and legal factors. Wetlands policy (draft): To promote the conservation of B otswana's wetlands in order to sustain their ecological and socio-economic functions and benefits for the present and future well being of the people. Forestry policy (draft): Will support (1) the development of sustainable forest management options based on sound ecological principles, (2) domestication and commercialization of forest products such as fruits and medicines and (3) restoration of degraded land using affores tation and plantations to make the land reusable.
Pages to are hidden for
"Briefing notes on Botswana"Please download to view full document