PECS #38: Exploring conservation and development pathways for an East African savanna through participatory scenarios with Rebecca Kariuki

Protected areas cover 17% of the global land surface and accommodate 50% of global biodiversity implying that conservation should be done inside and outside of protected areas. Outside protected areas, habitat fragmentation through land use change is the primary driver of biodiversity loss and there is a need to understand the causes and consequences of current land use changes and identify plausible trajectories for future land use change. This talk presents coproduced scenarios of future land use and land cover change for the Serengeti ecosystem in Tanzania. Stakeholder perspectives on social-ecological factors that drove past, and present land use transitions informed the development of the scenarios. The perspectives were further integrated with quantitative modelling to explore the nature, extent, and implications of anticipated land use change for conservation and sustainable development. The key drivers expected to drive future land use change in the Serengeti ecosystem were climate change impacts, population growth, infrastructural development, and the agricultural economy. Under varying scenarios, forest cover was projected to decline by 0.1 to 6% in 2063 whilst the agricultural encroachment inside protected areas, forests, and river edges was projected to decline by 5% in a sustainable scenario. Insights from the scenarios provide an opportunity to explore tradeoffs in future land uses and the policy and management actions needed for sustainable development.

Rebecca Kariuki is a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Sustainability in Arizona State University, USA. She is also an affiliate of the African Academy of Sciences, an AIMS Fellow at the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Rwanda, and a Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany. Her research interests include biodiversity conservation, social-ecological systems, landscape ecology, climate change and sustainability science. Her work largely integrates participatory approaches with spatial modelling to explore the impacts of alternate land use change pathways on the future sustainability of semi-arid savannas in Africa. It has been published in various academic and non-academic platforms. Her latest publication is available at