Protecting Nature's Hotspots for people and prosperity

Promoting the Key Biodiversity Areas of the Eastern Afromontane Hotspot

   A conservationist identifies plants on the Sanetti Plateau, Ethiopia. © Robin

The Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot​ stretches over a curving arc of more than 7,000 kilometers from Saudi Arabia to Mozambique. Of the key biodiversity areas (KBAs) in this hotspot, which cover an area of more than 50 million hectares, CEPF identified approximately 5.5 million hectares of priority KBAs for investment. These priority KBAs are important sites for conservation of biodiversity, including globally threatened species and ecosystems providing benefits such as clean air, fresh water and more.

The CEPF profiling exercise – a process used to identify the investment strategy for the hotspot – highlighted a lack of understanding of the importance of biodiversity on the part of decision makers, and also a lack of dialogue and coordination among stakeholders who have an obvious interest in enhanced coordination.

To increase the prospect of mainstreaming biodiversity conservation into national development policies and plans within the Eastern Afromontane, Ian Gordon promoted the hotspot’s biodiversity, KBAs and corridors during a presentation at the 2013 London International Association for Ecology Conference (INTECOL). The presentation also emphasized that the KBAs provide a site focus for monitoring the impacts of climate change in the hotspot. Maps and information from the hotspot were shared with attendees, and a list of contacts was produced that is expected to be helpful in engaging the global scientific community in further implementation of the conservation strategy for the hotspot.

Overcoming Challenges
  • Bridging the gap between the academic/research community and conservation practitioners on the ground - Many of the presentations at INTECOL 2013 focused on environmental research rather than offering management perspectives. According to Gordon, “The presentations demonstrated how far the science of conservation is outstripping its practice. The practioners and theoreticians could profit by coming together more, with CEPF benefitting by getting a clearer picture of how science could help more on the ground."

    To successfully promote the Eastern Afromontane Hotspot, Gordon instead highlighted how the CEPF profiling exercise identified and mapped the KBAs, or sites where globally threatened species are found. This was done in consultation with more than 200 individual stakeholders in the hotspot, who identified 310 KBAs (261 terrestrial and 49 freshwater). Of these, 56 were identified as top sites for biodiversity conservation, including 25 Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) sites.

    Gordon noted that “some of the emerging science is providing useful insights into two issues, climate change vulnerability and ecosystem services, that are directly related to CEPF’s work to protect the world’s hotspots,” and suggested that CEPF incorporate vulnerability assessments into the threat analyses that inform KBA priority setting. He also suggested that integrated and cumulative assessments of ecosystem services should be incorporated into the identification of priority corridors. By analyzing additional assessments during the profiling exercise, CEPF could gain a greater understanding of the ecological functionality and landscape synergies in the hotspots, which could be useful in achieving successful conservation on the ground.
Promoting the Recognition of the Eastern Afromontane Key Biodiversity Areas and Corridors to an International Audience of Ecologists and Climate Change Scientists

Purpose: Mainstream biodiversity conservation into national development policies and plans by promoting the recognition of Eastern Afromontane key biodiversity areas (KBAs) within the global scientific community at the 2013 London International Association for Ecology Conference (INTECOL), specifically during the symposium dedicated to climate change and African mountain ecosystems titled “Modeling ecological change at different scales.”

Click here to view the final project completion report.
Dr. Ian Gordon has led the production of three regional conservation strategies in Africa, for the CEPF ecosystem profiles for the Eastern Arc and Coastal Forests of Tanzania and Kenya and the Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspots, and for the MacArthur Foundation strategy for the Great Lakes Region.

Contact: Ian Gordon