Management Manual to engage stakeholders and communities in African Biosphere Reserves

, France

On 8 June 2015, the ‘Management Manual for UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Africa’ will be launched in Paris, during the 27th session of the International Co-ordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme. The Manual is a comprehensive reference document on Biosphere Reserves, with practical guidance focusing on stakeholder and community engagement. It is targeted at managers of Biosphere Reserves in Africa as well as their staff, key partners and stakeholders. The Manual will be available in English and French, and may be translated into other languages.

The publication, written by Professor Dr Wafaa Amer (Egypt), Sheila Ashong (Ghana) and Dr Djafarou Tiomoko (Benin), includes contributions from around 110 experts and managers representing all UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Africa. It was finalized shortly before the adoption of the new MAB Strategy 2015-2025, and the main elements and direction of the Strategy are fully reflected in its content.

The Manual explains in concrete terms how Biosphere Reserves balance nature conservation with socio-economic development and poverty alleviation, contextualizing theoretical information in terms of the situation in Africa. It focuses on practical aspects, such as how to address and manage local conflicts between stakeholders, how to share benefits with communities, and how to elaborate a management plan. It also presents several options for legal and administrative frameworks for UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and details how to organize consultations and hearings. The publication also provides arguments for potential donors and other supporters and decision-makers.

The Manual responds to a demand voiced by AfriMAB in cooperation with representatives from the ArabMAB region in 2011. The German Commission for UNESCO coordinated the underlying project in close cooperation with the AfriMAB Bureau, ArabMAB and the UNESCO MAB Secretariat. The project, including all workshops, was financially and politically supported by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) with funds from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).