Need for harmonized long-term multi-lake monitoring of African Great Lakes.


To ensure the long-term sustainable use of African Great Lakes (AGL), and to better understand the functioning of these ecosystems, authorities, managers and scientists need regularly collected scientific data and information of key environmental indicators over multi-years to make informed decisions. Monitoring is regularly conducted at some sites across AGL; while at others sites, it is rare or conducted irregularly in response to sporadic funding or short-term projects/studies. Managers and scientists working on the AGL thus often lack critical long-term data to evaluate and gauge ongoing changes. Hence, we propose a multi-lake approach to harmonize data collection modalities for better understanding of regional and global environmental impacts on AGL. Climate variability has had strong impacts on all AGL in the recent past. Although these lakes have specific characteristics, their limnological cycles show many similarities. Because different anthropogenic pressures take place at the different AGL, harmonized multilake monitoring will provide comparable data to address the main drivers of concern (climate versus regional anthropogenic impact). To realize harmonized long-term multi-lake monitoring, the approach will need: (1) support of a wide community of researchers and managers; (2) political goodwill towards a common goal for such monitoring; and (3) sufficient capacity (e.g., institutional, financial, human and logistic resources) for its implementation. This paper presents an assessment of the state of monitoring the AGL and possible approaches to realize a long-term, multi-lake harmonized monitoring strategy. Key parameters are proposed. The support of national and regional authorities is necessary as each AGL crosses international boundaries.