In recognition of the Traditional Authorities of Northern Botswana, the Botswana Community and Conservation Initiative (BCCI) acknowledges the critical importance of incorporating traditional governance and knowledge into community-based land-use practices. This initiative recognizes that Northern Botswana's ecological viability and its communities' well-being are inextricably linked. The vision of the BCCI is to provide for regional conservation and support for rural communities to develop sustainable land-use practices that promote conservation-based economic opportunities, facilitate landscape-scale wildlife movements, and provide for climate change resilience.
The cornerstone of this initiative is the Botswana Community and Conservation Fund (BCCF). The BCCF, a community, tourism, and international philanthropy cooperative, establishes a perpetual means for communities to maintain and expand sustainable land-use practices, further tourism relations and cooperative economic developments while also providing for wildlife population movements and growth.
The initiative collaborators came together out of a recognition that changing climatic conditions and stresses on natural resources are impacting the ecological health of Northern Botswana, including the Okavango Delta and extending into neighboring countries. These environmental stressors are resulting in decreasing primary productivity, declining wildlife abundance and distribution, increasing poverty, and deteriorating food security among the people most dependent on this region’s natural resources.
Outcomes and Results:
1. Traditional authorities, land boards and community members, including women, youth, and other marginalized groups are engaged and informed about alternative land-uses, diversified sources of community incomes, and improving resilience to environmental and economic shocks resulting in advanced participation in land-use planning, development and employment opportunities.
2. Community informed best practices developed for concession leases, joint ventures, conservation agreements, and community joint ventures and other community benefiting opportunities resulting in a collective advantage to drive negotiations and achieve more equitable and broader outcomes.
3. Community informed land-use plans, and Human-Wildlife Coexistence (HWC) strategies resulting in increasing sustainable resource utilization, providing economic opportunities, and enabling cooperative tourism ventures and expansion.
4. An established Botswana Community & Conservation Fund (BCCF) to benefit communities resulting in elevated economic opportunities and incentives designed to increase social well-being through diversified and inclusive community-based eco-tourism enterprises and a stable funding source that supports healthy communities, landscapes, wildlife, and ecosystem services.
5. Long-term research and monitoring programs established with local employment to evaluate the adaptability of on-going programs, including effectiveness of the planning, land-use compliance, and wildlife populations. A key component resulting in maintaining conservation agreements utilizing economic incentives to ensure adherence to best land-uses, lease agreements, stocking levels, tourism partnerships, and predator-friendly husbandry methods.
The establishment and continuation of community conservation funding from tourism industry and international donors requires similar oversight and positive results. Compliance monitoring frameworks will be developed, incorporating community members as monitors, to verify compliance with the commitments and justify penalties in the event of non-compliance with conservation agreements.