Nature can often pay for its own conservation, we just have to recognize its value and put it at work.
Nature is priceless, but it’s worth a lot. We live in a world where resources are limited and choices are unavoidable, and increasingly, making good choices means laying the foundations for sustainable development and achieving lasting results in the conservation of biodiversity. But when we make choices about how we use it, we often don’t consider all its dimensions and varied values. Instead, we tend to focus on short-term financial gains. Understanding the economic, social and political aspects of the value of nature helps us understand the relative pros and cons of different choices. Ecosystems underpin all human life and activities, but often people are unaware of the benefits they receive from nature or their value. A good understanding of the role of natural capital and the services provided by ecosystems can lead to win-win situations.
PAMS Foundation promotes approaches aimed at making natural capital financially relevant, recognizing its economic value, and collaborating with those who are able to introduce innovative financing mechanisms within the context of conservation. These approaches help to raise and invest new capital in progressive projects and enterprises while paying particular attention to community engagement and benefit-sharing strategies.
A brighter future for Banco National Park
Over the last few years, PAMS Foundation, in collaboration with the Leadership for Conservation in Africa (LCA), has engaged with the Office Ivoirien des Parcs et Réserves (OIPR), in a commitment to helping them make Banco National Park (BNP) a successful urban conservation area in the heart of the city. Several important activities have already been carried out in pursuit of this goal: an assessment of the biodiversity of the park; a potential park zonation plan; a strategy for community involvement; an initial engagement with private and public stakeholders, and an estimate of ecosystem services.
Banco National Park is located in the city of Abidjan, in Côte d’Ivoire. It is the largest urban tropical forest in the world at 3438 hectares (ten times New York’s Central Park). The park still holds the full features of a proper Upper Guinea lowland rainforest, but is also the ‘heart and lungs’ of the city. PAMS Foundation is developing new approaches aimed at enabling natural capital to be financially relevant. In collaboration with partners, we are determining the true financial value of the forest, and developing innovative financing mechanisms for positive conservation outcomes.
The development strategy of BNP consists of several pillars including:
- Economic development through implementation of a tourism development plan
- Long-term financial viability of BNP through valuation of natural capital, valorisation of its ecosystem services and engagement with its stakeholders.
- Development of beneficial relationships with communities adjacent to BNP.
To contribute to the definition and implementation of the second and third pillars of this strategy, and produce recommendations on how to build long-term beneficial engagement between OIPR and the neighboring communities, PAMS partners with Conservation Capital (CC), in particular on
- Generating Finance: Finance that can directly support the development and/or management of a conservation area or initiative. BNP’s financial support is highly dependent on the public budget and international donors, and is systematically underfunded. BNP needs to demonstrate its operational capacity to attract funding and to build alternative revenue sources.
- Building Incentives: Creating or increasing nature-based revenue flows to relevant stakeholders (landowners, local communities, public authorities) that increase associated conservation incentives. BNP plays a crucial role in the sustainable development of Abidjan, and provides vital ecosystem services, e.g. water provision, air quality, recreation. BNP needs to reinforce this linkage to various stakeholders (private sector, communities) and obtain recognition of its natural value, while increasing the value generation in return.
- Optimising Sustainability: Reshaping commercial or livelihood activities that threaten natural capital, towards more sustainable alternatives;
- Offsetting Encroachment: Increasing the economic productivity of ‘buffer’ landscapes to reduce encroachment into high value ‘core’ natural areas. BNP needs to include communities in economic valorisation of the park buffer zones, by making them partly accessible to the population through managed access to cultural spots, for the collection of specific herbs, or building up small commercial businesses.
Stimulating Engagement: Encouraging the public to access and enjoy natural spaces in ways that make them care about conservation.