THE ECOSYSTEMS APPROACH TO LIVELIHOODS AND DISASTER MANAGEMENT By Admore Chakadenga The campaign to put the ecosystems into

mainstream ecological issues is over. The question that remain unaddressed is do the various critical stakeholders in any given ecosystem appreciate the fundamental principles of this approach? It is the central theme and conviction of this discussion that without the effective upholding of the ecosystems approach, the outlook of biodiversity will be challenged and the resilience of communities to shocks and disasters will be compromised. The ecosystems approach does not aim for short term economic gains but aims to optimise gains from an ecosystem without damaging it.

The ecosystems approach has the precautionary principle as the fundamental principle. The Precautionary Principle is referred to in the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development; “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, scientific uncertainty shall not be used to postpone cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation”.

An ecosystem according to article 2 of the convention on biodiversity ‘means a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro –organism communities and their non living environment interacting as a functional unit’. According to ( ) an ecosystem was defined a geographic area including all living organisms (people, animals and microorganisms), the physical surroundings (soil, water and air) and the natural cycles that sustain them. It therefore follows that an ecosystem refers to a

home for both living and non living organisms that may facilitate interaction of these

safeguarding hazardous materials. Integrate long-term development planning — particularly related to site selection. Attainment of these objectives is key to effective management of ecosystems. Invest in effective early warning and preparedness measures. sustainable use and fair and equitable sharing of resources and benefits arising from use of generic resources. and protecting critical ecosystems for human well-being and biodiversity). 5. 2. Invest in restoring and maintaining ecosystems for protection.organisms. demand for construction materials. Engage in rapid environmental assessments and post-disaster clean-up operations that include minimum environmental standards to minimize long-term recovery problems. The fifth conference parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity defined the ecosystems approach defined the ecosystems approach as “a strategy for the integrated management of land. The convention offered eight practical recommendations for implementing an integrated approach to disaster management. provisions and biodiversity and ensure the participation of . These are 1. The Convention to Conservation and Biodiversity adopted the ecosystems approach as a primary framework for action under the convention which means the ecosystems approach is quite pivotal. waste management and zoning — into recovery and reconstruction initiatives. Establish effective emergency response procedures which include a basic threepoint environmental contingency plan (protecting water supplies. Rehabilitate and restore ecosystems for livelihoods. water and living resources that promote conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way” It follows from this definition that the ecosystems approach help communities three key objectives which are conservation. 3.4.

mangroves. 7. Long term resource management objectives will be constrained by the short term of the people. In Zimbabwe the CAMPFIRE programme has been introduced to within the context of the ecosystems approach in order to conserve the environment and maximize benefits to local communities. in addition to supporting people’s day-to-day livelihoods. 8.local people in this work. Where an ecosystems approach is not implemented the tragedy of the commons usually results. wetlands and mountain forests. 6. development planning and disaster management. animals would move across the borders of the three countries and poaching was high in Mozambuque where animals where either killed or injured resulting in losses to the three counties. are also important in mitigating the impact of natural . Invest in mitigation strategies to strengthen natural and artificial defences and invest in local capacity-building. Institutionalize and integrate ecosystem-based management. In areas where the CAMPFIRE programme was introduced locals appreciated the importance o preserving the ecosystems as they were also beneficiaries of the proceeds from the conservation programmes. A case study of Chivi district illustrates this case. national and local levels. (IUCN report. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) produced clear evidence that ecosystems such as coral reefs. Coordinate risk reduction measures at the regional. With its establishment all the three countries are protecting the animals and are benefiting a lot from tourism revenues. 2006) (Lancet. Before the establishment of the Transfrontier Park. 2007) observed that the issue of environmental degradation was becoming a threat to livelihoods across cultures. The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park is a good example of the most established wildlife areas in Southern Africa.

Studies by (Travors 2009) in a number of Sub Sahara Africa have revealed that a significant number of environmental challenges are generated by adverse effects associated with Global warming. This implies that human and ecosystem well being are positively correlated.hazards. 2009). biodiversity loss and many other environmental issues (Gilberts. 2010). This calls for the need to incalculate tolerable habits in society. There is a close link between the ecosystems approach and the sustainable development. It can be concluded that the ecosystems approach is one of the most . of the ecosystems approach it must be recognised that humans with their cultural diversity are an integral part of the ecosystems. As a baseline element. Conceptually the ecosystems approach is expressed as the relationship between humans and the surrounding ecosystem (Kirkby and Ronald. Most livelihoods promotion activities implemented now emphasise the ecosystems approach. disaster risk reduction. The ecosystems approach is intended to mitigate the effects of climate change and also poverty alleviation. Similarly a study by (Bowers et al 2005) concluded that vast climatic research has pointed to the fact that the rural poor are more vulnerable when it comes to adopting strategies to counter the detrimental effects of associated with environmental and climatic changes. Fore example in the droughts during recurrent droughts that affected Zimbabwe rural households relied on wild fruits for survival. Some habits like setting up veiled fires in order to catch mice result in total severe destruction of ecosystems.

www. a healthy environment should be maintained. References International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) report (2006). Livelihoods and Disasters AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT.important principles of sustainable environmental management at all levels in a given society. UK decision/cop accessed on 29 March 2011 www.A global synthesis report drawing lessons from three regional pathfinder workshops.fws. Gland. Using the Ecosystem Approach to implement the CBD.cdd. Switzerland and Cambridge. Ecosystems. There is therefore a symbiotic relationship between man and the environment. In for man to be able to cope better with the effects of disasters. as accessed on 29 March 2011 . Smith and E. Maltby (2006).

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