Toolkit guides African governments to capitalise on surge in nature tourism to drive economies and fund conservation
- Nature-based tourism growing worldwide: Africa uniquely poised to benefit
- Multiple increase in earnings possible in 10 years
- Private-sector investment eases burden on strained national budgets
VICTORIA FALLS, Zimbabwe – National parks and other state-owned conservation areas could significantly multiply the revenue they pump into African economies, a Space for Giants Working Paper published today finds.
Bringing new private-sector investment to underfunded protected areas to capitalise on surging interest in nature-based tourism would help fund conservation without draining state finances, while driving sustainable local and national development.
Four of every five tourists to sub-Saharan Africa visits to view wildlife, the Paper’s authors write, while the number of tourists is set to double to 134m by 2030. Tourism already drives 8.5% of Africa’s GDP and provides 24m jobs. Spending on tourism, hospitality and recreation could double to more than $260 billion by 2030.
But the natural assets that give Africa its global competitive advantage – its wildlife and landscapes – are under acute threat and could be lost forever unless they urgently prove their economic as well as ecological value.
Some protected areas receive only one in every ten dollars they need, as governments grapple with financial shortfalls amid competing priorities like health, education, and infrastructure development.
The paper, Building a Wildlife Economy: Developing Nature-Based Tourism in African State Protected Areas, will be presented today to Africa’s leaders and conservation authorities at the African Union and UN Environment Africa Wildlife Economy Summit in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
It sets out a pioneering Toolkit that in seven simple steps can guide protected area authorities to attract new international investment to fund national parks while also conserving environments and providing socio-economic benefits.
Using the Toolkit, models on several example protected areas in Africa predicted revenue increases of between four and eleven times within a decade.
The paper was co-authored by Space for Giants, an international conservation organisation headquartered in Kenya, and Conservation Capital, a conservation business and finance advisory firm. The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and Space for Giants funded the report.
Dr Lauren Evans, Space for Giants’ Director of Conservation Science, said: “Africa’s unique diversity of wildlife and habitat has the potential to radically transform the continent’s economy. At present few State Protected Areas are meeting their potential as engines for growth. This presents a major opportunity for governments. Cared for and sustainably developed, these are national assets that can provide significant financial and social returns now and long into the future.”
Combining analyses of existing research and pioneering proven approaches to increasing revenue in Africa’s protected areas, the authors found:
- Africa’s 8,400 protected areas annually earn $48 billion from 69 million visits
- $1 spent by a nature-based tourist in Africa is worth $1.79 to local economies
- Tourism generates 40% more jobs than the same investment in agriculture
Under the direction of President Yoweri Museveni, Uganda has embarked on a Conservation Investment Initiative guided by Space for Giants’ Giants Club initiative, using each of the steps in the Toolkit.
More than $60m of new investment in the country’s protected areas is expected to be unlocked when contracts are issued in the coming weeks for a series of new high-end lodges built by Africa’s leading responsible tourism operators.
Space for Giants anticipates new similar conservation initiatives to be announced at the Summit.
Mike Pflanz, Communications Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, +254 735 446226
- Working Paper authors
- Dr Max Graham, Space for Giants’ CEO (at the Victoria Falls Summit)
- Major tourism operators involved in the Uganda Initiative (at the Summit)
- Ugandan government and Uganda Wildlife Authority
- UN Environment Chief for Wildlife (at the Summit)
- Representatives of governments expected to launch new investment initiatives
Read The Report:
The report is available for download here.
SPACE FOR GIANTS
Space for Giants is an international conservation charity that protects Africa’s elephants and their habitats while demonstrating the ecological and economic value both can bring. It uses science and best-practice to deliver conservation investment initiatives that attract new funding to under-resourced protected areas. It works with national authorities to strengthen legal action to fight wildlife crime and protect animals in the wild. It uses technology it pioneered to reduce human-elephant conflict, and works with a wide range of individuals including academics, journalists, celebrities, philanthropists, and sportspeople, to bring new supporters to its cause. It is headquartered in Kenya, works in at least eight countries in Africa, and is registered as a charity in the UK and a non-profit in the US. Learn more at www.spaceforgiants.org.