TITLE: THE VALUES AND CHALLENGES OF PROTECTING DIVERSE PARK SYSTEMS: The Case of Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA).
Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA)
is a parastatal organization established by an act of the parliament. The
primary purpose of Tanzania’s national parks is conservation, with tourism being
the main mechanism for funding conservation activities. At present, there are 14
national parks, representing various ecological systems of the country. Many of
these form the core of a much larger protected ecosystem, representing the
country’s rich natural heritage. The existing parks system protects a number of
internationally recognized biodiversity spots.
The diversity of parks is a
potential country’s extraordinary investment for the future, as it provides
valuable tangible and intangible services and revenue used to support the
conservation work, wildlife research, education and the livelihood of local
communities. Sustaining this system of national parks is however not a simple
task. There are always different perceptions on how different interest groups
can benefit from the existence of these parks. These divergent perceptions are
driven by different interests and it has always not been easy to reconcile
them. However, it is generally agreed that, continued degradation of
biodiversity adjacent to national parks tends to shift pressure on biodiversity
use from community/public/private lands to national parks. This is further
exacerbated by high population growth in most parts of the country.
Globalization forces also seem
to change traditional economies to globally oriented cash economies. This leads
to rapid conversion of important wildlife corridors and dispersal areas into
other forms of land use, such as mining and commercial agriculture, which are a
threat to the ecological integrity of various ecosystems. Liberalized economy
is also attracting investors of different profiles in the tourism industry, some
of them being more short term profit driven, thus threatening the values of
these national parks. Globalization and liberalization forces have an impact on
the cultural values of the local communities on biodiversity conservation. These
impacts are both positive and negative.
TANAPA’s network of parks has so far survived these mounting pressures because of well developed strategies, both in establishing and managing them. It can therefore be argued that, the diversity of ecological systems within TANAPA systems have proven to be more advantageous in terms of preservation of biodiversity amidst other conflicting land use activities, because of well established management principles. Though the pressures are still growing, the ecological viability of the established network has been able to decelerate them, at the same time attracting growth of quality tourism which is crucial in funding biodiversity conservation activities within and outside national parks. It is therefore justifiable to say that, Tanzania National Parks systems are one among the best conservation models worldwide.