Globally there is solid recognition of the need to reduce the loss of natural resources resulting from unsustainable land-use practices, but at the same time manage and use these ecosystems and biodiversity in a way that caters for the development needs of a growing population. There are often direct conflict demands between these values, which are expected to worsen as a result of human-induced climate change. Therefore, development choices and land use decisions have a significant effect on both biodiversity and the ability of communities to improve their livelihoods and quality of life. Historically, the allocation of land to biodiversity conservation has competed with the needs of society for land for development, food and extraction of natural resources. Southern Africa is in desperate need of rapid social and economic development to achieve development goals. Whilst this often requires complex trade-offs between economic, social and environmental objectives, research has shown that very often, through proper planning and sustainable development, all three objectives can be achieved simultaneously. As this pressure on the environment has increased, and the realisation of the critical value of ecosystem integrity to human well-being, a “biodiversity-based economy” has emerged which offers an opportunity to improve our governance and trade / economic environment to ensure that it contributes positively in the context of sustainable development and poverty reduction.

In order to achieve the combined goals of socio-economic development and biodiversity conservation, innovative mechanisms are required to secure protected areas, that move away from the classic government-led and resourced protected area establishment. The key to securing new protected areas on private and communal land lies in innovative financing mechanisms, leveraging funding resources through non-traditional means using market-based approaches. This approach requires a concurrent development of flexible and innovative policies, enabling an environment which facilitates these financing mechanisms.

This session aims to explore innovative financing and policy mechanisms to secure our natural resources in protected areas, as a way of addressing the significant gap in conservation financing that exists worldwide.

This is an open session and authors are encouraged to contribute presentations on this subject. Submit your abstracts for consideration online and choose the Theme – Special Session:Innovative Financing and Policy Mechanisms to Secure Protected Areas