Sudan: U.S.$23.6 Million Initiative to Improve Protection for National Parks

Khartoum — Ahead of World Environment Day, a US$23.6m initiative to improve protection for three national parks in Sudan has been announced by the Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources (HCENR), the Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning, and the United Nations Development Programme, with $4.6m of financing from the Global Environmental Facility and the remainder from UN and national contributions, and partners.

The five-year project will see over 20,000 km2 of land and marine areas supported - across Dinder National Park, Jebel El Dair National Park, and the Red Sea-based Dungonab Bay - Mukkawar Island Marine National Park. This will be complemented by assistance for nearby communities and businesses, national policies, and wildlife and park administration.

"This project will provide Sudan with opportunities to go into more development in all communities, to ensure biodiversity and protect natural resources," said H.E. Dr. Amin Saleh Yassin, Undersecretary of Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning. "We thank all partners for contributing and moving forward towards sustainable development."

Sudan's rich natural environment is impacted by the lack of strong protected areas, both at a policy level and operationally, and limited livelihood options for those living nearby. Project initiatives will enhance key sites, addressing environmental degradation and creating economic opportunities.

Within the parks, biodiversity will be supported via a range of targeted activities, including: consultative demarcation of park boundaries and buffer zones with communities; rehabilitation of selected wetland sites, mangroves and other areas; creation of wildlife corridors; efforts to address invasive species; and expanded monitoring of protected areas. Complementing this will be upgrades to park equipment and facilities.

Efforts to develop economic opportunities will include ecotourism - establishing tourism infrastructure and working with operators on eco-friendly activities - and expanding livelihood opportunities for the 62 communities inside and adjacent to the parks.

"This project and other interventions linked to it emphasize sustainable livelihoods and the ability of people to earn a living from the land in a sustainable way, while protecting Sudan's natural resources," said Yuri Afanasiev, UNDP Resident Representative in Sudan. "We hope this will contribute to the Government's additional efforts supporting recovery in Sudan."

At a national level, assistance will include training with international experts for national conservation and environmental agency staff, and financial support to meet international UNESCO-conservation guidelines, improve management of the national parks system, and develop a parks tourism strategy and other national policies.

Highlighting the expected impact, Prof. Rashid Meky, Secretary-General of HCENR, said: "This is a long journey starting today as we take the first steps in this five-year programme. We look forward to increasing the collaboration we have always enjoyed with UNDP and partners - this is an important opportunity for the Government and the people of Sudan."

The project involves contributions from a range of agencies and partners, including: the Ministry of Finance and National Economy, HCENR, GEF, UNDP, the Wildlife Conservation General Administration, the Range and Pasture General Directorate (RPGD), the Agriculture Research Corporation (ARC), the Sudanese Development Initiative (SUD), the Wildlife Research Centre, the Sudanese Environment Conservation Society (SECS) and UNESCO.

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