Interview with Dr Mohamed Bakarr : Conservation in Africa

Dr Mohamed Bakarr  (© Njoroge Wa Chege)
Dr Mohamed Bakarr (© Njoroge Wa Chege)

“My advice to budding African scientists is to develop their career with a mind-set on influencing transformational change.” M. Bakarr

In our previous post we left you with news and updates on the Student Conference organized by the TBA African Alumni Group (TAAG).  We are glad to be back with an inspiring interview with Dr Mohamed Bakarr, Senior Environmental Specialist at the Global Environment Facility (GEF). He was one of the Keynote speakers at the conference and presented a talk on “Global change and the future of biodiversity conservation in Africa”. Originally from Sierra Leone, Dr Bakarr worked for the World Agroforestry Center and Conservation International before joining the Natural Resources Division at GEF in 2009.

F.M:  Do you agree that it is some form of sustainable approach to ensure that local people are interested and able to contribute to conservation? 

M.B: I have always believed that conservation must embody democratic principles in order to succeed; by this I mean conservation has to be by the people and for the people. The fact that the livelihood of local people is intertwined with nature implies that conservation in any form has to account for the goods and services on which they depend.

Protected areas are the most effective tool for biodiversity conservation, but tend to be maligned in Africa as an excuse to alienate local people, leading to their impoverishment. On the contrary, protected areas do in fact create options and opportunities for local transformation as long as their establishment takes into account livelihood needs of the people. Continue reading “Interview with Dr Mohamed Bakarr : Conservation in Africa”