A decision support system for the management of biodiversity resources in Kenya: a case study from Kenya Wildlife Service
Amuyunzu, Charles Lwenya
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Throughout the world, environmental problems resulting from human activities are causing great concern to environmental scientists and the general public. Although many of the human activities that contribute to these problems are localized, the repercussions are felt not only at the local level but also at the regional, national, supra-regional, continental and global levels. Concern about many of these problems was first expressed in the late 1960s and culminated in the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, in Stockholm in 1972 that led to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). However, it took another 21 years to formalize the international legitimacy of these issues, which found its expression in the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and its Agenda 21-an agreement that was signed by many heads of state. Loss of biodiversity is one such problem. Over the last two decades, there has been general agreement that global biological resources are declining at an accelerated rate, mainly through species extinction. Concern for the loss of biodiversity in Kenya has resulted in a number of government policy initiatives that address the problem. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has been given the mandate to conserve the existing biodiversity resources in the country. Decisions related to biodiversity conservation are made at three levels: national, regional and local levels, each of which requires different levels of abstraction of information. Although the different decisions made at each level generally require specific information, similar data acquisition procedures are needed at all levels (ground truth, airborne and satellite data). Because collection of data on biodiversity resources can be very costly, a large organization like KWS needs to restrict acquisition to those data items that are essential for information to support biodiversity conservation decisions and to ensure consistency in the use of data and subsequently derived information. Research to determine how this can be accomplished was the main focus of this study and Tsavo ecosystem was used as a case study. This study was designed to define, develop and test a prototype of such a decision-support system for management of biodiversity resources on a sustainable basis. This study applied existing system analysis and information system development methodologies, tools, and techniques to develop a prototype decision support system for management of biodiversity resources in Kenya. This system has been tested using two case studies from the Tsavo Ecosystem. Results from the case studies show that modern information technology concepts and theories can be modified to provide a powerful tool for effective and efficient management of biodiversity resources on a sustainable basis. The prototype should now be tested and implemented in the whole Kenya Wildlife Service Organization.