Biodiversity Management Unit: Environmental Component
Biodiversity Management Unit for the Lesotho
Highlands Water Project (LHWP)
The Biodiversity Management Unit has been established as a specialised unit within the Social Development and Environment Division of the Lesotho Highlands Development Agency (LHDA), which is responsible for monitoring and evaluation of water quality, integrated ecosystems management, and the conservation of biodiversity in water catchments.
Advance Africa was appointed by the LHDA in 2014 to establish the Biodiversity Management Unit (BMU). The BMU has since been established as a specialised unit within the Social Development and Environment Division of the LHDA. The core business goals of the BMU are to develop a comprehensive understanding of the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the LHWP catchments and to develop key environmental and ecological databases with which to monitor change. This knowledge base provides a platform to develop and implement integrated catchment management plans for the conservation of biodiversity and the maintenance of water quality in the LHWP catchments.
The BMU has two sections, an aquatic systems section that includes water quality and a biodiversity section that includes the terrestrial, fisheries and aquaculture components. The unit was established in 2016 and is now fully operational. Advance Africa fulfils a mentoring role for the BMU, with the aim of building capacity in monitoring and management programmes for water quality and biodiversity conservation.
One of the major outputs of the mentoring program comprises a suite of documents that summarise the underlying rationale and protocols for all monitoring activities of the BMU, including fisheries assessments, land use practices, grassland assessment, soil erosion assessment, wetland health assessment, status of minnow populations, river health, water quality and Instream Flow Requirements.
Since the establishment of the BMU, Advance Africa have worked closely with the team on presenting lectures on the theoretical principles of monitoring the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems as well as practical field mentoring. In terms of the terrestrial biodiversity section, erosion, land use, grasslands and wetland monitoring mentoring sessions have taken place by in-team specialists.
The BMU team has come a long way since its establishment. The team is now much more confident and motivated in the field, more comfortable with data management and have developed a much better understanding of the enormous tasks that lie ahead with respect to the management of the LHWP catchments.