UNDP Around the world

1382 Cape Verde - Ecosystem Management in and Around Protected Areas

1382 Cape Verde - Ecosystem Management in and Around Protected AreasPhoto: Tamar Ron/ UNDP

Cape Verde has recently been recognized as a global hotspot for terrestrial and marine biodiversity and in particular as a centre for endemism. This archipelago's unique terrestrial habitats form part of the realm of the Macaronesian Forests, which is a WWF Global 200 Ecoregion. The terrestrial ecosystems, which are the focus of this project, display significant biodiversity in terms of endemic plants, reptiles and birds. Typical of island biodiversity, the country's terrestrial ecosystems and species face many threats, including:

  1. the overexploitation of natural resources (e.g. fuelwood collection, and the harvest of native plants for medicinal and traditional ritual uses);
  2. impacts from exotic species;
  3. ecosystem degradation (e.g. grazing, land clearings); and
  4. unsustainable and inefficient management of natural resources (e.g. soil and water, resulting in land degradation).

The lack of a national system of protected areas presented a clear opportunity for UNDP-GEF to limit these threats and to bring long-term, sustainable benefits to the people and biodiversity of Cape Verde.

Overall, this two-phase program was conceived to conserve globally significant biodiversity through the creation of a protected areas system encompassing a representative sample of six critical ecosystems that are unique to Cape Verde. The program seeks to halt and reverse existing degradation of land and water resources within the protected areas and in adjacent landscapes. In this way, the program will ensure global biodiversity conservation and mitigation of land degradation, while promoting national sustainable development goals.

As the first phase of the program, this project focused on capacity building, strengthening the enabling environment, and obtaining concrete impacts on the ground in terms of community-based natural resource management by establishing two national parks. The project was explicitly designed to undertake significant capacity building strategies to empower public and private institutions of Cape Verde to conserve these island ecosystems via long-term adaptive management.

The second phase, in 2010, will build on the results of the first phase to secure global benefits; this work will be accomplished by establishing the final four national parks and Cape Verde's first official Marine Protected Areas, ensuring the financial sustainability of actions, and allowing for the gradual assumption of administration and financing of the programme results by the national government.

The project's independent evaluation, carried out in mid-2009, showed that the project was successful in meeting its objective to converse biodiversity by developing and applying new strategies for ecosystem protection and sustainable resource management. The vast majority of the project's targets were achieved, with some targets surpassed. Overall, the most impressive results of this project are: establishing two terrestrial parks, the first formal protected areas in Cape Verde; strengthening the capacities for protected areas management; and raising awareness of the importance of protected areas at the local and national levels. Other important achievements are:

Improved protected areas finance. The national government allocated a budget for staff salaries and basic management expenditures of Serra Malagueta (SMNP) and Monte Gordo Natural Parks (MGNP) since January 2009. This allocation exemplifies the government's strong commitment to the continued management of the both parks. Additionally, the national government has fully assumed management responsibilities for the parks.

Co-management of protected areas. Participatory management planning has been finalized and its implementation has started in both protected areas. Local Site Committees were established and are operational. The established project sites are now fully blown Nature Parks with infrastructures co-financed by government, a fee system and a lively community that supports conservation and sustainable use activities.

Fog-collecting structures. This mechanism for harvesting water from clouds was established both at Serra Malagueta and Monte Gordo Natural Parks. This simple, unobtrusive and biodiversity-friendly technology helps the local communities by providing additional water for domestic use. At least 50 families on both sites are benefitting directly from the fog-collection system. The structures are working very well, particularly during the wet season.

Increasing public awareness. Between 2006 and 2008, at least 65 visits were made to various schools around the two parks by park staff. These meetings focused on the role of students in biodiversity conservation and the issue of finding solutions to environmental problems such as hunting. A presentation was given by the National Project Coordinator on biodiversity conservation in Cape Verde at Instituto Superior de Engenharia e Cincias do Mar (ISECMAR). In addition, the project has received regular visits from parliamentarians and was once visited by a member of the Kennedy family, Patrick, nephew of the illustrious US President John F. Kennedy and a US congressman, who recently toured Cape Verde.

Strengthening endemic plant populations. After a forest resource and management study was completed in 2006, local community members were employed as workers at MGNP and SMNP to remove invasive species and plant endemic species. As a result, 50,000 endemics were planted in SMNP and 30,000 in MGNP. Both parks now have well-managed community endemic plant nurseries, which have the potential to expand and eventually generate income for these communities when replanting programs are implemented on the other islands of Cape Verde.