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Mt. Elgon Biosphere Reserve in Kenya and Uganda enjoined and designated as second UNESCO Transboundary Biosphere Reserve in Africa

Mount Elgon Biosphere Reserve

In a significant stride towards environmental conservation, the Mount Elgon UNESCO Transboundary Biosphere Reserve has been designated as the second of its kind in Africa during the 35th Session of the UNESCO MAB International Coordinating Council held on 12-14th June 2023 in Paris, France.

This remarkable achievement marks a milestone in preserving the unique biodiversity and rich ecosystems associated with this majestic mountain ecosystem located on the border of Kenya and Uganda. The Mount Elgon Ecosystem is important in providing a stream of ecosystem services such as climate change mitigation, carbon sequestration, hydrological cycle and watershed functions, soil protection, habitat for species of global conservation concern, recreation and spiritual well-being, food among others.  Conserving this important ecosystem is important if these benefits can be sustained for perpetuity as part of efforts to promote sustainable conservation.  With a total Core zone of 165,575 Ha, a Buffer zone of 125,142 Ha and a Transition of 297,630 Ha, this new designation provides sufficient habitat for species with a large geographical ranging behaviours and support ecological processes including that are range restricted or globally threatened species.

The designation of Mount Elgon Transboundary Biosphere Reserve reaffirms the commitment of both Kenya and Uganda towards developing a joint framework in conservation efforts. The reserve will serve as a hub for scientific research, education, and sustainable development. Local communities will play an integral role in the management and governance of the reserve, ensuring that their livelihoods are harmonized with nature and cultural preservation through their activities especially within the Transition zone.

The designation of the Mount Elgon Transboundary Biosphere Reserve is a result of close collaboration between Kenya and Uganda, demonstrating their shared commitment to conserving this unique natural treasure. This designation also strengthens Africa’s global recognition as a frontrunner in sustainable development and biodiversity conservation.

The designation of the Mount Elgon Transboundary Biosphere Reserve as Africa’s second Transboundary biosphere reserve is an inspiring development in the realm of environmental conservation. This accolade not only safeguards the diverse ecosystems and endemic species found within the region but also nurtures sustainable development and fosters community engagement. As Mount Elgon proudly joins the coveted list of UNESCO Transboundary Biosphere Reserves, it serves as a beacon of hope and a testament to the invaluable partnership between human and nature. It is the second Transboundary Reserve in Africa and the first in Eastern and Southern Africa and brings  the total number of Biosphere Reserves on the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves to 748 sites in 134 countries, including 23 transboundary sites.

“With this designation, it is envisaged that it will promote transboundary collaboration and enhanced coordination of management of natural resources that straddle national boundaries. The designation which has taken many years to be realized, will ensure the biosphere reserve is functional, promote the MAB brand to pursue conservation of flora and fauna, exchange of experiences, capacity building, promotion of local livelihoods and transborder priority programmes, projects and activities”
Dr. James Njogu, HSC
Dr James Njogu,
Ag. Secretary General/CEO, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO

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