Coastal biodiversity management: Kenya and Tanzania plan a transboundary conservation area

Chongoleani village, a success story of a community-based mangrove management in Tanzania.

Kenya and Tanzania share the same biodiversity-rich coastal and marine ecosystems on which vital socioeconomic activities are based (ports, fisheries, tourism…). In order to address jointly the issue of sustainable management of shared resources, the two countries are determined to establish a Transboundary Conservation Area (TBCA).

A broad range of stakeholders — including representatives of protected areas and wild life management institutions, fisheries departments, research institutes, NGOs, and local authorities — recently met in Tanga, Tanzania to identify preparatory activities for taking TBCA forward. The workshop was organised at the initiative of the regional Biodiversity programme, funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by Landell Mills (LML) through the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC). It is a response to a decision of the 8th Conference of Parties of the Nairobi Convention (June 2015) which requested contracting parties and partners to support.

Transboundary marine protected area between Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania as an example of a cross-border management system of marine protected areas

The aims of the proposed TBCA are to (i) mainstream ecosystem management objectives and priorities into productive sector practices and policies; (ii) strengthen capacity for restoring ecosystem health and conserving biodiversity at the local, national and transboundary level; (iii) and pilot ecosystem-oriented approaches into spatial planning, water management, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and protected area management in Kenya and Tanzania.

The TBCA workshop reunited various stakeholders in Tanga

The workshop highlighted some of the lessons learnt from other TBCAs: the need for political commitment, mutually agreed objectives, extensive consultation, and transparency in the governance structure, regular communication and joint management, etc.

It was also emphasized that the TBCA initiative should focus on those activities and issues that require transboundary collaboration. It was noted that there are many needs that must be addressed through national efforts and these should be continued and not diluted by the TBCA project. However, there are key issues for which collaboration across the border is essential, and it is important to identify these and ensure that these are the focus of the TBCA objectives once the initiative is formalised.