Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, a Pioneer City of the global CitiesWithNature initiative, continues to demonstrate its commitment to protecting and mainstreaming nature through the development and launch of the Thematic Atlas of Nature’s Benefits to Dar es Salaam.

The Atlas comprises a collection of maps that showcase the city’s natural assets, their importance for the local economy and the wellbeing of its people. Produced as part of the INTERACT-Bio project, it will help urban planners make informed decisions. The Atlas highlights the social benefits of green open space and vegetated areas in the City. Each ‘theme’ in the atlas represents an urban challenge, such as rising urban heat, air pollution or flooding, and how urban nature can address these issues. An accompanying illustrated poster provides a beautiful snapshot of the city’s natural assets.

“This Thematic Atlas shows how nature’s benefits protect and sustain our city and make it liveable. It will help us prioritise our investment in urban nature. It will also enable Dar es Salaam’s five municipalities to direct their plans to incorporate nature’s contributions to enhance urban quality of life, livelihoods and the economy,” said Ms Sipora Liana, Director of the Dar es Salaam City Council.

ICLEI, through its INTERACT-Bio project, pioneered a tool that embraces informality and which can be developed without complete or sophisticated data, and provides a solution for fast-growing cities faced with limited resources and threats to biodiversity. Together with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany, the team developed a rapid appraisal methodology that can identify and locate a city’s key natural contributions regardless of the complexities and data gaps.

The pioneering method combines information generated from a remote natural asset mapping process with local spatial data, scientific studies and input from Tanzanian experts and city officials. The product generated has therefore been co-created and informed by local knowledge.

“Biodiversity and natural ecosystems play a crucial role in maintaining the health of our planet, particularly in the face of climate change. The natural environment provides many valuable services that contribute directly to human well-being and livelihoods. In a rapidly urbanizing world, cities and their surrounding areas will play a key role in leading action to protect the natural ecosystems that support human life and vibrant economies,” said Ms Kobie Brand, ICLEI Africa Regional Director. “We congratulate Dar es Salaam for committing to mainstreaming biodiversity and nature-based solutions into their planning practices, and on the launch of the Thematic Atlas.”

Mr Augustin Berghöfer of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research says: “The Atlas is the result of a highly productive cooperation of local, national and international experts. And it shows that we know enough to move to action. Urban green space is one of the most valuable and also one of the most threatened assets of Dar es Salaam. We cannot take it for granted because its loss affects peoples’ lives directly.”

Dar es Salaam joined the CitiesWithNature initiative as one of its Pioneer Cities. CitiesWithNature provides a global platform for cities and other subnational governments, their communities and experts to connect and learn from each other in mainstreaming nature into our cities and building resilience. The founding partners are ICLEI, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), along with supporting bodies such as the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD).

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Published in The Daily News on 1 November 2019:

Published in The Guardian on 1 November 2019:

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