There is a need for African governments to enact laws that will strengthen protection of the continent’s pristine heritage sites amid intrusion for commercial activities, campaigners said on Friday.
Landry Ninteretse, Africa lead for international green lobby group,350.org, said that heritage sites are directly linked to economic and cultural well-being of rural communities hence the need to protect them from harmful activities.
“The protection of world heritage sites and their irreplaceable value for the enjoyment of future generations should be a priority in Africa, where rapid economic development poses a threat to these resources,” Ninteretse said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
He said that poverty, climatic shocks, governance lapses and commercial activities that include exploration of fossil fuels have endangered world heritage sites based in Africa.
Ninteretse said that African governments should engage industry and local communities to come up with innovative programs to boost protection of heritage sites.
Omar Elmawi, a green campaigner based at Kenya’s Lamu archipelago, said that enforcement of existing environmental laws combined with public awareness is key to strengthening the protection of landscapes with significant ecological and cultural value.
“Citizens from all walks of life should be engaged in efforts to promote conservation of heritage sites given their immense contribution to tourism and rural livelihoods,” said Elmawi.
He said that controlled development coupled with action on climate change is key to ensuring that the ecological integrity of heritage sites in Africa is retained.