GDEST 2008 Conference Sessions
Theme 1 - Observing Africa
Integrated Data for Integrated Planning for the Okavango Ramsar Site: Challenges and Prospects
Cornelius Van der Post, University of Botswana, Botswana
An integrated management plan is a requirement for a Ramsar site. Plan development for the Okavango site by the Government of Botswana was supported by construction of a simple but integrated GIS-database that combines available data and allowed cross-disciplinary issues –such as human-elephant conflicts- to be more readily examined by stakeholders. Data challenges included data-sharing-problems, data incompatibilities, inaccuracies and gaps. A major challenge revolved around efforts to promote the realistic use of cross-disciplinary data by government departments at district level. Some of these were overcome by the development of a user-friendly interface and through training of stakeholders.
The integrated data allowed the Okavango plan to contain a fair degree of cross-disciplinary initiatives, although sectoral approaches remain quite prevalent. The prospects for future plan implementation depend on the efficient use of integrated data and enhanced attention to cross-disciplinary issues as a strategy toward solving land-use conflicts that may otherwise undermine conservation targets.
Using existing integrated data to guide the comprehensive monitoring of environmental conditions is also crucial for feedback concerning the plan’s major objective of reconciling development and conservation objectives.