The conservation strategy for the Great Lakes Region (GLR) aims to:
- Identify, document and prioritize those areas in the GLR where endangered species and the Ecosystem Services that are essential for human welfare are most at risk
- Identify the threats to these species and services and understand the socioeconomic and global change contexts (including climate change) in which those threats have arisen and can be reduced
- Propose actions that will reduce the threats, enhance the prospects for the conservation of threatened species and sites and ensure the continuation and improvement of ecosystem service delivery
- Explore new ways of thinking about landscape conservation that will provide resilience against global change, especially climate change
- Identify and promote incentives at all levels to slow current trends of ecosystem degradation and service loss in the GLR and eventually reverse them.
In attempting to achieve these aims, the GLR strategy adheres closely to the global approach adopted by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund to ensure complementarity with the CEPF strategy for the Eastern Afromontane. This strategy was developed through expert review and two participatory stakeholder workshops held in Entebbe, Uganda and Nairobi, Kenya. Twenty-nine experts from 11 institutions contributed to the strategy, and the workshops involved about 60 stakeholders from 30 governmental and non-governmental institutions. The analyses undertaken in the course of preparing the strategy have added another 73 terrestrial Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) and 68 freshwater KBAs to those already found within the Afromontane Hotspot, giving a total of 276 confirmed KBAs for the Great Lakes region. A further 21 terrestrial and 51 freshwater sites have been identified as candidate KBAs on the basis of workshop inputs and expert reviews.
At the landscape level, a new concept is introduced: Climate Resilient Altitudinal Gradients (CRAGs), and criteria for their identification are described. CRAGs are multi-scale landscape units characterized by high biodiversity and ecosystem service values with an altitudinal range of 1000 meters or more. In the context of the GLR, the most important CRAGs are landscapes that start in the mountains and end in lakes. The identification of these CRAGs enables a landscape focus for promoting resilience to climate chang eand its impacts on the ecosystem services of the area.