The Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan (AEMP) 2020-2030 was ratified and adopted at a workshop in Machakos on 11 December after many meetings of the Project Implementation Committee, partner organizations and community members over the last eighteen months. The plan replaces the first AEMP covering the period 2008 to 2018. In the next few weeks the new plan is expected to be formally adopted by county and government agencies and gazetted by the Attorney General. AEMP, the first of its kind to incorporate wildlife and natural resource management into a broader planning framework, lays out a framework for sustaining the land health of the rangelands throughout Kenya and beyond. Amboseli Conservation Program (ACP) prepared the main report on the Amboseli ecosystem undergirding AEMP 2020-2030.
The following is a summary of AEMP 2020-2030 outline of the 151-page plan:
The vision for the Amboseli Ecosystem: “To sustainably manage and utilize the ecosystem’s natural resources for community livelihood improvement”
The Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan is an integrated plan that outlines how different land uses and natural resources in the Amboseli Ecosystem will be managed for the greater good of all stakeholders. The renewal of AEMP 2008-2018 for a further 10 years is a clear indication that the stakeholders, who include landowners, KWS, NGOs, the tourism industry and researchers, are committed to an ecologically viable Amboseli Ecosystem. The plan takes a broad multi-sectoral view of all the natural resources in the ecosystem against different land uses and how these interact with one another and, ultimately, how they co-exist within the ecosystem.
The Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan 2020-2030 is the second AEMP after the lapse of the first ten-year AEMP 2008-2018. This AEMP incorporates lessons learned during the implementation of the first AEMP. It is a product of broad-based consultations among diverse stakeholders beginning with government entities of national and county levels, the group ranches, NGOs, Hoteliers and Tour Operators. The stakeholders and especially the CPT who were the Plan Implementation Committee (PIC) members of the first AEMP, brought up diverse views, expertise and a plan foundation report describing biophysical and social components necessary to achieve the desired future conditions for community livelihoods, ecology, tourism, and institutions and governance systems in the Amboseli ecosystem. The report set out the strategic principles and socioecological relationships, and rationale for development of the new AEMP.
The plan foundation report was an update of a previous report that was used to develop the AEMP 2008-2018. It pinpointed threats to the productivity and viability of the Amboseli ecosystem and national park, the main threats, such as increasing farming, settlement, fencing, subdivision, water extraction from rivers and swamps, the loss of seasonal grazing grounds and drought refuges for livestock and wildlife, and heavy grazing pressure which was reducing the productivity and resilience of the ecosystem. The threats also included bush meat poaching, a breakdown of migrations and compression of wildlife (elephants especially) into Amboseli National Park, and the resulting loss of habitat and species diversity. It further recommended specific actions to combat the threats and the creation of Amboseli Ecosystem Trust (AET) to oversee the implementation of the plan. The updated report is the foundation of the new AEMP, and Amboseli ecosystem stakeholders built on this foundation to develop the new plan.
The AEMP 2020-2030 has a wide scope which includes livestock development, rangeland and water management, agriculture, permanent settlements, and urbanization and new enterprises. It also addresses the changes over the last decade and the threats to the ecosystem. These threats include land subdivision, agricultural expansion, water extraction for farming and other commercial activities, loss of seasonal pastures, and the growing impact of grazers and browsers on habitat, species diversity, and plant production and on livestock and wildlife populations.
As a follow up of the AEMP 2008-2018, the aim of which was to maintain habitat connectivity and safeguard the viability of the Amboseli migratory wildlife populations, the new AEMP strives to maintain and restore ecosystem integrity to safeguard Amboseli’s wildlife and community livelihoods based on the Minimum Viable Conservation Area. The ecosystem plan also spells out the role of AET and partnering organizations in presiding over the plan implementation, and defines the central role of the Noonkotiak Resource Centre as the information and research hub of the ecosystem, coordinating ecosystem monitoring and planning, setting up an information database, tracking and adapting management plans and developing a visitor and cultural centre and education outreach program.
The AEMP 2020-2030 integrates the land use plans of the seven group ranches, Olgulului/Ololarashi, Mbirikani, Eselenkei, Kuku, Rombo, former Kimana group ranch and Amboseli National Park. Group ranch land-use plans have been developed to minimize land use conflicts and enhance community livelihoods. The plans consider facilitating conservation of viable wildlife populations at the ecosystem level by planning for wildlife migratory routes and critical refuges. They also include restoring degraded lands through “Olopololi” (grass banks), resting and rotation of pasture use, soil erosion control measures and establishment of wildlife conservancies.