Pathways to Coexistence: Facilitating appropriate land use planning that considers protecting major elephant corridors
About the Implementing organization
Name: SThe Ecoexist Project
Year of establishment: 2013
Type of organization: Community-based association or organization, Legally recognized non-profit status, Community enterprise or business , Cooperative business, Women’s association or organization
The eastern Okavango Delta Panhandle in northern Botswana is home to approximately 15,000 elephants and just over 15,000 people. Both populations are increasing and competition between people and elephants over space, water and food is high. Historically, government land boards allocate arable lands to farmers close to the river and effectively reduced the space available for elephants to move to and access resources in the Okavango. Consequently, elephants have been restricted to restricted pathways. Research conducted by Ecoexist Director, Anna Songhurst, confirms conflict increases dramatically close to these corridors. Ecoexist has collaborated with the communities in the area, the land board authority, other government stakeholders and USAID to designate thirteen of the largest and most important corridors on in the Okavango Panhandle. The process used the GIS based 'Land Use Conflict Identification Strategy' model (LUCIS), which holds at its core the input, through participation by the community, of local resource and land use needs and preferences. Model development involved several years of consultation, expert GIS mapping and frequent exchange with stakeholders. The model also incorporates other land use conflicts, and sustainable benefit generating activities in the corridors, resulting in a comprehensive land use plan and map that guides future land allocation. This was officially endorsed, as land allocation policy, by the governments land authority in 2016.
Forests / Wetlands / Wildlife
Type of Action
Protection / Sustainable use / Mainstreaming into sectors
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Food security
The 13 elephant corridors that were protected each cover at least 2km by 7km of prime natural woodland habitat, in order that elephants can move freely between arable lands and settlements. They also protect the forest and other biodiversity within the corridors and secure safe passage for countless other large and small mammals, reptiles and birds. There has also been an increased awareness around the elephant corridors by the local community, changing behaviour and increasing tolerance toward elephants.
Sustainable Development Impacts
Development in the area has now adopted a sustainable development approach, incorporating the needs of both people and the elephants and other wildlife of the area for resources and space in this socio-ecological landscape. There are now opportunities to separate arable lands from elephant corridors, using landscape level mitigation techniques to encourage elephants to use pathways and stay away from fields and crops. In addition, alternative livelihood options arise in the form of eco-tourism potential in these corridors and associated spin off industry. The produce harvested from the fields in cluster fields, effectively protected and away from the elephant corridors are now branded "elephant aware" and are being marketed and sold at a premium to the nearby tourism industry. These enterprise opportunities are forming the basis of the development of an "Elephant Economy" in the area.
The land authorities have requested Ecoexist to conduct similar corridor identification and elephant movement analysis on the western side of the Okavango delta, in order to initiate the same land use planning process and planning map development there too. There is growing recognition for the need for this as part of a holistic strategy to reduce wildlife conflict, promote human wildlife coexistence, increase food security and generate alternative livelihood opportunities in a sustainable development approach. The LUCIS process and resulting land use plan map has also been endorsed by the Ministry of Lands and was recently included in the countries National Development Plan, No. 11.
Work on the western side of the Okavango has already begun to identify elephant corridors and develop the LUCIS model in collaboration with the communities surrounding an additional three sub-district land board offices. The process is still ongoing and the District land board authority has plans to roll it out to another two sub-districts in Ngamiland (the Okavango Delta region).
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