Demonstration site: Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta case study aimed to employ species data for long-term monitoring of water quality. An outreach book was published as a means of raising support for this approach among regional decision makers and for developing greater awareness of the value of freshwater biodiversity in general. The available freshwater biodiversity information was integrated into a wetland health monitoring tool (index of biological integrity) that is under development for long-term use, and the Delta book will reach decision makers more immediately and pilot a reporting tool for communicating about freshwater issues.

The Okavango Delta case study is one of four pilot efforts across Africa trying to integrate information about freshwater biodiversity into the development planning process. The Okavango Delta in Botswana is a site of global importance for biological conservation and diversity. It forms one of the world’s largest Wetlands of International Importance, as designated under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.


The Issue


The Delta depends on the water inflow from Namibia and Angola. Increased upstream water abstraction and pollution form the major threats from these countries. Local uses (agriculture, fishing, resource collection and use) could alter the resource base and biodiversity due to growing commercial and subsistence use of the Delta and its resources. The Government of Botswana, through the Department of Environmental Affairs, has expressed concern about the depletion of some veld products, overgrazing and land degradation and the environmental impacts of the growing number of tourists. If these threats are not addressed, they will have a profound impact on the freshwater biodiversity. Specific changes are likely to directly affect local communities that are heavily dependent on the Delta for their livelihoods, including consumptive and non-consumptive tourism.


What has been done?


The Okavango Delta case study used the mechanisms of a long-term water quality monitoring programme and an outreach book for stakeholders and decision-makers. A freshwater biodiversity baseline was established to be monitored through an index of biological integrity that is being piloted and will yield management-oriented information for years to come. The visually appealing book highlighting freshwater species and issues will reach decision-makers rapidly and serve to pilot a reporting tool for communication about the status of freshwater biodiversity and wetland health. The Okavango case was unique in being preventative – addressing largely perceived rather than actual threats to the Delta.
 

The Okavango Freshwater Biodiversity Experts meeting

The Okavango Freshwater Biodiversity Experts meeting took place from 24 to 27 October 2007 in Maun, Botswana. The event was hosted by the Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre (HOORC) as a shared activity of the Centre and its three freshwater biodiversity projects: the Biokavango project, the University College London Darwin Initiative project in the delta, and the IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Information case study. HOORC is implementing this IUCN case study on the Okavango Delta for the EU-funded project, Integration of freshwater biodiversity in the development process throughout Africa: mobilising information and site demonstrations on behalf of the IUCN Species Programme.

The meeting objectives were to:

1. Establish data availability for species in a few key taxonomic groups – fish, molluscs, crabs, odonates, and some aquatic plants.

2. Focus on knowledge gaps for those species which have potential value in monitoring the Delta’s water quality over a long‐term horizon, especially at proposed sites for the government’s long-term water quality monitoring programme.

3. Provide recommendations on baseline field surveys necessary for the eventual development of indices of biological integrity.

4. Input to the development of a long‐term bio‐monitoring and indicators which will build local capacity for adaptive management of the Okavango Delta.

Presentations which took place at the meeting are available to download below, grouped thematically.

The Okavango Freshwater Biodiversity Experts meeting: Presentations

Overview of the project: Integration of freshwater biodiversity in the development process throughout Africa: mobilising information & site demonstrations (7.6MB)
Presented by Dr William Darwall
IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, Cambridge, UK

Fish baseline
Fishes of the Okavango Delta (10.3 MB)
Presenter: Dr Denis Tweddle
Southern African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity / Rhodes University, South Africa

Macro-invertebrates baseline
Aquatic Invertebrates of the Okavango Delta (879 KB)
Presented by Dr Helen Dallas
Freshwater Research Unit/ The Freshwater Consulting Group
University of Cape Town, South Africa

Aquatic vegetation baseline
Biodiversity – Plants Taxa, Okavango Delta (4.7 MB)
Presented by Dr C. Naidu Kurugundla
Aquatic Vegetation Control
Department of Water Affairs, Government of Botswana

Wetland plants in the Okavango Delta (9.5 MB)
Dr Erwin Sieben
University of the Free State, South Africa

Rare and Endangered plants of the Okavango Delta Ramsar Site (1.9 MB)
Presented by Birgitta Farrington
Millennium Seed Bank Project, Botswana

Monitoring programme development
Bio-monitoring for Okavango Delta Management Plan (ODMP) implementation (not available)
Presented by Sekgowa Motsumi
Department of Environmental Affairs / Okavango Delta Management Plan Secretariat, Government of Botswana

Bioassessment and biomonitoring: some general principles (1.7 MB)
Presented by Dr Jenny Day
Freshwater Research Unit
University of Cape Town, South Africa

River Health Programme (South Africa) and Bio-indicators development for the delta (includes Okavango Scoring System) (29 MB)
Presented by Dr Helen Dallas
Freshwater Research Unit/ The Freshwater Consulting Group
University of Cape Town, South Africa

Ongoing monitoring work
Overview of water quality (chemical parameters) related project in the Okavango Delta (168 KB)
Presented by Dr Philippa Huntsman-Mapila
Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre
University of Botswana, Botswana

Water flows’ sharing and distribution in three major rivers, Okavango Delta (3.2 MB)
Presented by Dr C. Naidu Kurugundla
Department of Water Affairs, Government of Botswana

Monitoring & simulating threats to aquatic biodiversity in the Okavango Delta (28.7 MB)
Presented by Richard Mazabedi
MPhil student at Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre, on behalf of the University College London Darwin initiative project

Wilderness Safaris’ Monitoring initiatives (52 MB)
Presented by Kai Collins
Conservation Ecologist, Okavango Wilderness Safaris, Botswana

Biokavango project’s plans for monitoring (not vailable)
Presented by Belda Mosepele
Biokavango project
Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre
University of Botswana, Botswana

All documents are produced by the authors and/or the institution represented. Views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the donors to the meeting, including the European Union through the Program on Environment in Developing Countries: Contract EuropeAid/ENV/2004-81917.

Okavango Delta book
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