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We All Belong to One Ecosystem
April 28, 2015

“We all belong to one ecosystem. … Economic growth needs to be done in a responsible way that has minimal impacts on the environment.”

bannerIn memory of the life and legacy of Montoa Moila who made many contributions to nature conservation, her community, and her country.

That statement, by 2014 Mandela Washington Fellow Bruce Ernest, sums up what YALI Network members expressed about conservation during a recent Facebook #YALIChat. Ernest, a business sustainability expert who volunteers at a wildlife and conservation society in Zambia, was joined during the three-day chat by Cindy-Lee Cloete, an environmental educator in South Africa, and Mantoa Moiloa, a park manager in Lesotho.

Comments focused on wildlife management, sustainable development and going “green” — what Ernest called the “triple bottom line of economic growth, social equity and environmental protection.”

The discussion covered the importance of educating everyone about the need to conserve natural resources, governments’ responsibility to form policies to protect the environment, and the relationship between tourism and conservation.


Elephants in a pool of muddy water (© AP Images)
Endangered elephants enjoy a drink of water. © AP Images

Moiloa advises people to teach others to do their part to protect the environment. For example, people can learn to raise seedlings to replace felled trees. They can learn about foods that can be alternatives to meat hunted in the wild. And they can learn to regularly discard waste in proper containers instead of dropping it on the ground. “Let’s not keep silent when we see our fellow human beings litter,” she wrote.

Ernest said that communities can come together to create local laws aimed at protecting the environment and wildlife. Companies can do more to be green by adopting efficient production methods and by adhering to local environmental laws and regulations. “Future companies will have no choice but to go green and act in a responsible way,” he wrote.

Conservation and tourism

Henok Hiruy said tourist companies that appeal to travelers concerned about the environment are using a good business model. “By focusing on social issue[s], they tend to connect people with similar causes,” he said. He and others asked how ecotourism can better benefit local communities.

In response, Chikondi Thole said that people who live near tourist attractions can “creatively sway attention” and bargain with tour operators to get deals that will provide them with more of the tourist dollars.

Who is responsible?

Herbert Nyirenda questioned who is ultimately responsible for looking after the environment. “Do natural systems belong to the public or do they belong to corporate and private interests?” he asked.

The systems “belong to the public,” Cloete answered. She added that government and the private sector, however, have responsibility to manage the systems “for the benefit of all.”

“If we make green our environment, we can contribute to the world a balanced climate and clean air,” wrote Weldeyesus Gebrewahid.