The Regional Impacts of Climate Change

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2.3.6. Wildlife, Tourism, and Recreation

Tourism-one of Africa's most promising and fastest-growing industries (about 15% per year)-is based on wildlife and water supply for recreation. Recurrent droughts in the past decade have depleted wildlife resources significantly. Permanent loss of such attractions would waste vast amounts of investment in tourism. The greatest impacts would occur in drought-prone areas of the Sahel, east Africa, and southern Africa.

High levels of floral and faunal species diversity exist in various reserved areas in relict, fragmented patches of natural vegetation. Most wildlife is in reserved areas surrounded by human land use (agriculture). This fragmentation and concentration of animals in specific areas make them highly vulnerable because vegetation (habitat) will not respond quickly enough to changed climate, and wildlife will be unable to migrate to more suitable climatic conditions because of limited corridors between wildlife reserves in different vegetation and climate types; moreover, wildlife would be slow in responding to a changing habitat boundary (see Section

Climate change will impact the tourism industry indirectly through changes in water and vegetation, as well as through wider-scale socioeconomic changes-for example, fuel prices and patterns of demand for specific activities or destinations. Various indirect impacts also may derive from changes in landscape-the "capital" of tourism (Krippendorf, 1984)-which might lead potential tourists to perceive Africa as less attractive and consequently to seek new locations elsewhere. There also may be new competition from other tourist locations as climates change (particularly on seasonal time frames), especially in relation to northern vacation periods.

Tourist attractions such as Victoria Falls could become much less attractive as a result of reduced river discharge and alteration of the rainforest. Hydrology models for tropical savanna Africa suggest reduced runoff as a result of climate change (Hulme, 1996a). The tourist impacts of these changes will include alteration of characteristics of popular tourist destinations. In the 1992 drought period, Victoria Falls lost some of its attractiveness as a result of much reduced water discharge over the falls. Furthermore, the reduced flow resulted in reduction of the spray that maintains the rainforest that is part of Victoria Falls' aura-resulting in the death of flora around the falls.

In southern and eastern Africa, there are a variety of water-based tourist activities-such as sailing, skiing, angling, rafting, and so forth. Such activities could be affected by changes in river flows and the impacts of land use (especially agriculture) on water quality-such as eutrophication, which gives rise to objectionable blue-green algae and a proliferation of aquatic weeds (such as Eichhornia and Salvinia). These developments will compromise the aesthetic value of tourist destinations. Many reservoirs in Africa (such as Lake Victoria and the Nile Sudd) are under threat. In addition to their tourist value, these inland waters in Africa are a source of protein. Many water bodies in Africa show very high sensitivity to changes in runoff. Inland drainage systems-such as Lake Chad, the east African Rift Valley lakes (e.g., Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha), and other shallow water bodies such as Lake Chilwa and the Okovango delta-have a delicate hydrological balance. Complete drying of the lake recently occurred at Lake Chilwa in Malawi and Lake Nakuru in Kenya. Magadza (1984, 1996) has suggested that fish production in large reservoirs such as Lake Kariba can be significantly affected by decreased runoff because of reduced nutrient inflow.

The wetlands of Africa-such as the Okovango delta, the Kafue River floodplains, and Lake Bangweulu-have rich and varied wild fauna and are especially conspicuous for their avifauna. Magadza (1996) shows how the gradual drying of the Caprivi Strip wetlands resulted in a population reduction of the wetland vertebrates and the complete disappearance of some species from the area. Such aridification of wetlands has been followed by encroachment of human cultivation.

The destruction of coastal infrastructure, sandy beaches and barriers, and marine ecosystems would have negative impacts on tourism in these areas (Okoth-Ogendo and Ojwang, 1995). This effect could be exacerbated by disturbances in the pattern of human settlements in coastal zones and the general loss of environmental values.

Figure 2-14: Lake Kariba water storage 1990-91 to 1995-96 (Hulme, 1996b).

Many tourist facilities (such as hotels) have been invested on inland lakeshores and reservoirs-such as Midmar Reservoir in South Africa, Lake Malawi, Lake Chad, Lake Victoria, and several other lakes in the Rift Valley in east Africa. In some cases, there also are downstream facilities, such as those on the Shire River and Liwonde. Past drought episodes have demonstrated that fluctuations in lake levels affect the quality of services that the lakeside resorts offer; the water level may recede a considerable distance from the facility. Lake Kariba currently is 13 m below its storage-capacity level; services such as dry-dock facilities have lain idle for several years. Figure 2-14 shows the changes in water level of Lake Kariba during the 1991-92 drought period. Where the lake is the primary source of an effluent river, river-based tourist facilities would be similarly prejudiced by lower lake levels. Such impacts would be more pronounced on reservoirs that combine other activities (e.g., irrigation or hydroelectric power generation) with tourism.

An assessment of how the whole natural environment and wildlife might be susceptible to climate change should be an integral part of environment planning (Mkanda, 1996). A number of sub-Saharan countries regard the conservation of biological diversity (wildlife) together with agriculture and tourism activities as an important win-win solution to the nature resource that also offers a major source of much-needed revenue (World Bank, 1996). In a report on wildlife conservancies in Zimbabwe, Price Waterhouse (1994) demonstrated that wildlife presented the best land-use options in semi-arid parts of southeast Zimbabwe. This application, in the Gonarezhou nature reserve, has been facilitated by an appropriate legal framework in Zimbabwe-based on the Parks and Wildlife Act, which essentially confers stewardship of wildlife on landowners.

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