Africa’s biodiversity is comparatively in a better state than many other parts of the world, partly because of a long early history of co-existence between humans and other living species. However, this situation is rapidly changing with major increases in the human population and changing demographics, economies and climates. Today, approximately half of Africa’s terrestrial eco-regions have lost more than 50% of their area to cultivation, degradation and/or urbanization.

Currently, much of the focus of the region’s governmental bodies is directed towards immediate needs linked to poverty alleviation and development – often at the expense of longer term sustainability. This is manifested in changing land use, such as the introduction of biofuels, agriculture intensification and mining.

The IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa regional programme builds on the growing global recognition and understanding of the trends and links between ecosystem changes and human well-being. In doing so, it seeks to contribute to the region’s development in a way that benefits both ecosystem and human-well being now, and in the future.

IUCN’s Eastern and Southern African (ESARO) region comprises 22 countries in the Horn of Africa, east Africa, southern Africa and the western Indian Ocean; namely: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

IUCN has been working in Eastern and Southern Africa for several decades and officially opened its offices in the region in the 1980s, pioneering a number of conservation initiatives. To improve its efficiency, in 2008 IUCN merged the two regional offices of Eastern and Southern Africa and established the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office in Nairobi, Kenya.

Our South Africa Office also serves as the hub for coordination of IUCN presence in the southern Africa and as focal point for relevant regional bodies.