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What's at Stake

A Key Sector
for Biodiversity

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of international tourist arrivals has decreased sharply. From April to June 2020, the number of international tourists arriving in Africa fell by 98 percent, compared to that same period the year before. Demand is not expected to reach its pre-COVID levels before 2023. Moreover, the pandemic has severely affected sectors where women’s employment is disproportionately high.

Conservation in Africa: ecological and economic co-benefits

Africa has nearly 2,000 Key Biodiversity Areas. The Continent supports the world’s most diverse large mammal populations. A large portion of the economy depends on biodiversity. Wildlife-based tourism contributes significant resources to large-scale conservation efforts.

SMEs: a key anchor of economic development & biodiversity conservation

Small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) are a key pillar of Africa’s sustainable development efforts, particularly in and around protected areas that are rich in biodiversity and teeming with wildlife. SMEs, deeply rooted in community, support local livelihoods and are deeply embedded in locally-driven conservation efforts.

Covid’s devastating impact

COVID-19 is having a devastating effect on conservation enterprises – lost revenue, lost jobs, weakened social protection and environmental stewardship. The impacts to Africa’s iconic biodiversity and wildlife are dramatic already. Poaching, encroachment and land use violations have all increased since the start of the pandemic.

A near-fatal blow for small and medium size conservation and tourism enterprises

Locally-owned, small and medium-size enterprises are the most vulnerable. Larger businesses can rely on their reserves or have access to emergency short-term financing. Locally-owned businesses are often run by families in small communities. They have deep local connections and a sense of ownership over social outcomes and are invested in rescuing their economic and natural environment.

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