National History Museum On The Cards

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To address Botswana’s taxonomic impediments, the government through the department of national museum and monuments in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism is in the process of constructing a Natural History Museum.

This was revealed by the Minister of Justice, who is also a Member of Parliament for Chobe, Machana Shamukuni when officially opening the three-day Botswana Biodiversity Symposium in Kasane this week.

The event was held under the theme “We can’t conserve what we don’t know – Addressing Botswana’s taxonomic impediments towards sustainable Ecosystem Management.” The symposium aimed at creating a platform for national and international experts in biodiversity to share research findings to enhance biodiversity conservation in Botswana.

Shamukuni noted that the National History Museum will be a state-of-the-art facility consisting of an iconic building with offices and well-equipped laboratories that will cater for National Herbarium, Zoology, Geology, Taxidermy as well as Natural History exhibitions. He noted that the government also promises to continue equipping more officers in the field of taxonomy and related fields.

Shamukuni has further stated that effective conservation and management of biodiversity depends on the understanding of taxonomy. He said that it is unfortunate that inadequate taxonomic information and infrastructure, coupled with declining taxonomic expertise limit the ability to make informed decisions about conservation. He expressed that it was against this background that the Symposium’s theme emphasises the need to know all organisms that the country has to conserve, and for that to materialize taxonomic impediments should be addressed.

Shamukuni noted that knowledge creation and the application of knowledge have become central to economic growth around the world today, and Botswana should not be left behind.  He said that Botswana’s economy is heavily dependent on resources, especially minerals, which will not last forever. He urged researchers to change the status quo through research and innovation that would lead to a knowledge-based economy.

“It is from Botswana where knowledge on biodiversity conservation should be sourced by the world, this is because the country is a testimony of excellent management of natural resources. Well-researched knowledge on biodiversity and its management will also inform Government policies, hence boosting sustainable utilisation of natural resources,” he said.

According to him, biodiversity and ecosystem services are central to the economy and development of Botswana, and therefore their value cannot be overemphasised.  Shamukuni expressed that it was unfortunate that the value is often ignored until the time when the resource is exhausted.  He stated that biodiversity provides several goods and services important for survival on earth and these resources are essential for subsistence and commercial purposes.

“In Botswana, biodiversity provides opportunities for communities to generate income through utilisation and management of biological resources in their proximity through the Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) programme.  This helps in the provision of employment to the community hence reducing poverty. Tourism which is one of the key contributors to Botswana’s economy is also largely dependent upon biological resources,” said Shamukuni.

Shamukuni has lamented that biodiversity is facing several threats, and most of them are influenced by activities of mankind and these include among others, loss, fragmentation, and degradation of habitats, the spread of alien invasive species, unsustainable use of natural resources, climate change, inappropriate fire regimes and changes to the aquatic environment and water flows.

For his part, UNDP Economic Advisor Etienne de Souza said that there is a need for comprehensive and up-to-date data and research about the state of biodiversity. He noted that this knowledge forms the backbone of any effective strategy to counteract the decline in global biodiversity.

“We must not only gather this information but also ensure that it is accessible, shareable, and usable by all stakeholders. It is through this collaborative approach that we can develop strategies that are both informed and effective. Platforms like this one provide an opportunity to share knowledge and experiences, continue to learn from each other, strengthen our capacities, acknowledge interconnections, and jointly identify synergies in our areas of focus,” he said.

 Souza expressed that Botswana’s taxonomic challenges highlight a critical aspect of this global issue and addressing these impediments is essential for sustainable ecosystem management. He noted that by enhancing the understanding of biodiversity, they empower themselves to make informed decisions that support conservation efforts and promote sustainable development.

 Souza noted that collective efforts towards addressing biodiversity loss hinge on their ability to gather, share, and utilise comprehensive biodiversity data. He urged researchers to commit to fostering transformative changes in their policies, practices, and technologies to safeguard the rich biodiversity of the planet for future generations.

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