|SWAZILAND'S BIODIVERSITY: Strengthening National Protected Areas Systems Project
Swaziland’s formal Protected Areas (PAs), which cover approximately 4% of the country’s total land area, are relatively rich in biodiversity with their share of endemism as represented in various ecosystems. Furthermore, the country has set targets for the conservation of its ecosystems and species in line with the National Development Strategy (Vision 2022) and other international targets such as the Aichi Targets under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity. While some of the critical ecosystems and species are found in existing PAs, some are found in areas prone to unsustainable utilization and overexploitation of resources, thereby threatening livelihoods and impeding sustainable development.
Strengthening National Protected Areas Systems (SNPAS) in Swaziland is a six-year project (2014-2020) funded by GEF that aims to develop, expand and effectively manage Swaziland’s PAs network in order to adequately protect biodiversity. This is being undertaken through a ‘landscapes’ approach across different sectors, integrating land and natural resource management to transform the current PA patchwork into an integrated, connected network that conserves biodiversity, maintains ecosystem services and enhances vulnerable communities’ livelihoods especially those adjacent to PAs.
The SNPAS Project comprises three components: (i) knowledge-based platform operationalised at the national, regional and community levels to address current and emerging threats to PAs and biodiversity conservation; (ii) landscape approach that leads to expansion of the PAs network, and (iii) strengthening PA functioning through improved conservation management and operational support for existing and new formal and informal PAs. Thus, PAs will be established and managed as clusters in critical biodiversity areas, integrating sites that are managed by the Government of Swaziland, the private sector and local communities.