To improve the long term conservation of biodiversity in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions by providing better, more relevant and more accessible information for protected areas management, setting up a network of regional BIOPAMA observatories, developing a Reference Information System to host and facilitate the exchange of data, and to provide the associated capacity building to contribute to, and effectively use, these tools. BIOPAMA seeks to integrate data and information on ecological, socio-economic and management aspects of protected areas, whereas many other initiatives focus only on one of these.
Despite significant investments in gathering and producing environmental information, pertinent information is still often fragmented and difficult to access. The BIOPAMA project aims not only to take advantage of advances in earth observation and information technology, but to directly address in parallel the institutional challenges through the setting up of regional observatories and to strengthen regional commitments, strategies and harmonization. A key emphasis of BIOPAMA is to complement traditional ecological assessments of protected areas with better understanding of the social and economic impacts, especially the positive and negative effects of protected areas on the livelihoods of local communities.
The BIOPAMA programme is a major component of the EU's approach to biodiversity in development policies, which aim to fully integrate biodiversity and ecosystem conservation with socio-economic development and poverty eradication. BIOPAMA is building an infrastructure (Regional Observatories), together with information tools (data gathering, data validation, data modeling, data exchange), training and capacity building.
There is still an over-emphasis on ecological aspects, and more stimulus is needed to create reliable, comparable information on impacts of protected areas on livelihoods. BIOPAMA can provide a framework, and a repository for the information, but the Observatories are still very much in their infancy. Key data gaps still exist.
Our work on ecosystem services has helped drive the ongoing growth of research in this domain and we have provided specific tools and summary reviews to help gather best practice, knowledge and data, through the Ecosystem Services Partnership. The BIOPAMA Observatories and Reference Information System are now beginning to take shape, and many tools are becoming available for accessing and analysing data. There now needs to be a concerted effort to gather data at regional level on the socio-economic impacts of protected areas and to incorporate this in decision making. The project still has two years to run with options for continuity afterwards.