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STRENGTHENING THE PROTECTED AREA NETWORK IN SOUTHERN TANZANIA (SPANEST) PROJECT

Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) recently launched a project known as Strengthening the Protected Area Network in Southern Tanzania (SPANEST).

SPANEST project is designed to lift the barriers to establishment of a landscape approach to the management of biodiversity. The project aims to increase the effectiveness of the National Parks in protecting biodiversity and provide for the long-term ecological, social and financial sustainability of that system.

The focus of the project is on the Southern Circuit of Tanzania’s National Parks, reflecting the fact that with some exceptions, the management effectiveness of NPs in this region remains sub-optimal, relative to the Government’s desired levels and tourism numbers remain low. The long term solution behind the project is to build the management effectiveness of these Protected Areas (PAs), reduce anthropogenic pressures on the sites and secure biodiversity status within them. The project has been designed to address Protected Area management barriers of (a) a lack of proper connectivity between isolated PAs, for larger mammal movements and to buffer against climate change impacts and (b) lack of management capacity and financial planning to bring people to the area and to prevent the various threats to the area.

The rationale behind this project which focuses on two interlinked geographies across seven districts, Greater Ruaha Landscape (37,000km2) and Greater Kitulo-Kipengere Landscape (2,150km2), is to adopt a landscape level conservation approach that goes beyond Protected Area boundaries in their different forms or communal lands by viewing landscapes as ecological blocks that provide These landscapes have been selected based on the following criteria: (1) Biodiversity Significance; (2) Management Need; (3) Management Opportunity; and (4) Government Priority—both areas form part of the economically important Rufiji Catchment.