Briefing notes on Botswana by tac49996


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.

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
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
       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)
       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
       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
      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
      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
      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.

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