JET, USAID and the push for  natural resources conservation

JET, USAID and the push for natural resources conservation

HUMAN existence is impossible without the presence of a healthy ecosystem. The environment comprises all living and non-living components and their interactions within a natural habitat.

Environmental conservation has become one of the core issues that need to be addressed to battle climate change and global warming.

Sustainable development is the need of the hour that can save the mother earth from the repercussions of industrialization. Journalists’ Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET) is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), working in the fields of environment and sustainable development since February 26th, 1991 and has been collaborating with several partners to achieve the said objectives.

JET runs several projects, including training for journalists as well as sending them to the field – conserved areas as well as wildlife corridors. Environmental conservation is a practice that paves the way for protecting the environment and natural resources on the individual, organisational as well as governmental levels.

JET Executive Director, Mr John Chikomo sees the importance of partnership in managing the environment, conserving it, getting rid of degradation and making sure mitigation of climate change effects is successful. He says there are various core environmental issues that are taking a heavy toll on human lives.

Ranging from overpopulation, hydrological issues, ozone depletion, global warming to deforestation, desertification and pollution that pose a severe threat to the existence of humankind.

Unless environmental conservation is becoming an effective mass movement, it is futile to expect positive growth, especially in the age of digital media that holds the potential to bring a revolution to save the planet from destruction.

He says it has become inherently important to work towards environmental conservation in contemporary times. Some pointers elucidate this crucial need to save the environment from further degradation.

Those are to reduce air, water and land pollution; facilitate the conservation of natural resources for future generations, ensure the protection of biodiversity; implement sustainable development; restore the ecological balance and save the planet from harmful repercussions of global warming.

In building capacity to journalists about human – wildlife conflicts, Mr John Noronha – the Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, RTI, a USAID Contractor, implementing the USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili says coexistence between people and wildlife is a national priority for sustainable development and wildlife conservation in Tanzania.

He says that human-wildlife conflict has been defined in several ways. For the purpose of the training, human-wildlife conflict (HWC) is recognized as a subset of human-wildlife interactions that can be positive or negative. Why is HWC an important topic now? It is important because of distribution and scale of HWC impacts in Tanzania, looking at the data from 2012 to 2019.

In social economic there have been 1,069 human deaths, 642 temporary and permanent human injuries; on food security there have been 41,404 acres of crops that were damaged, 792 livestock depredations, while on financial costsome 4,670,555,300/- consolation payments were made to Tanzanian citizens.

Mr Noronha notes that conflict occurs when the needs and behavior of wildlife impact negatively on the goals of humans or when the goals of humans negatively impact the needs of wildlife.

“This includes negative impacts of wildlife on human social, economic or cultural life, and negative impacts of humans on the conservation of wildlife populations. However, it is important to recognize that human-wildlife conflicts do not result solely from the direct impacts of wildlife on people or vice versa.

“But it may often involve disagreements between stakeholders over conservation objectives. HWC is a key obstacle to linking conservation and poverty alleviation, as the costs of living with wildlife negatively impact on rural livelihoods and erode community support for conservation,” he says.

HWC is also an important threat to wildlife conservation, as the fate of many wildlife populations, especially carnivores and large herbivores, is increasingly dependent on their tolerance by people. The Government of the United Republic of Tanzania sees addressing human-wildlife conflict as a key goal for sustainable development and wildlife conservation in the country.

A work must be done towards human-wildlife coexistence for the benefit of the nation’s people and wildlife. Let us look at the human dimensions of HWC?

Socioeconomic factors are important in shaping tolerance for wildlife; for example people with a single income source may be less tolerant to wildlife. Tolerance of wildlife can be influenced by who is perceived to be responsible for wildlife.

In Tanzania, there is a common perception that the Government is responsible for wildlife.

The greater the social trust in the institution perceived to be responsible for wildlife, the more likely people are to perceive lower risks associated with wildlife The beliefs that people hold about the beneficial and undesirable attributes of a species are often a key predictor of tolerance.

People’s instinctive and emotional responses to a species are also important. Perception of costs/risks and benefits: If people perceive that the costs and risks of wildlife are high, they are less likely to be tolerant of wildlife People’s direct and indirect experience with a species can affect their beliefs about a species, shape how people perceive the benefits, costs and risks associated with a species.

Additional factors that may shape tolerance include gender, social norms, social identity, culture, religion, knowledge and access to information, and framing of HWC by the media.

“Human-wildlife coexistence is a complex challenge, with a range of drivers and causes, requiring a diversity of approaches,” says Mr Noronha, adding that there is a need to empower communities to mitigate wildlife impacts, protect farmers and communities on the frontline through effective response to HWC incidents.

Sustainable planning of land use at broad and finer scales is pertinent as well as identifying compatible activities for the human-wildlife interface, improve community livelihoods and educate the whole Tanzanian population on the importance and best ways of coexisting with wildlife, without forgetting monitoring and research.

Mr Noronha says there is a need to have sustainable planning of land use at broad and finer scales and identifying compatible activities for the human-wildlife interface.

“Tanzania still has enough land to enable all required farming, grazing, building and other community activities in areas away from the human-wildlife interface, though this requires careful and participatory Land Use Planning (LUP) and management,” the expert says.

JET is committed to promote good governance on environmental management for sustainable development in Tanzania through capacity building, advocacy, and networking.

Its objectives are advocating for good governance in environmental management, enhancing the capacity of media stakeholders such as journalists and editors to monitor governance practices in environmental management, networking with like-minded organisations and other stakeholders as well as strengthening the organizational capacity to implement the association’s mandate.

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