Climate Resilient Altitudinal Gradients (CRAGs) provide a focus for action in East Africa

Lake Kivu, Western Rwanda © Adam Jones

Intact habitats on altitudinal gradients will become increasingly important under climate change because they help control erosion, regulate water flow and allow species to move upslope. In the African Great Lakes region, BirdLife Partners are conserving the most vulnerable sites across a landscape with an altitudinal gradient of over 1,000 m. Planned interventions will enhance the resilience of local communities to climate change and benefit wildlife.

Altitudinal gradients are particularly vulnerable to climatic events such as extreme rainfall and drought; often resulting in landslides, severe land erosion and the drying of important water sources for local communities, with poor farming practises exacerbating these threats. The Climate Resilient Altitudinal Gradients (CRAG) approach aims to alleviate these risks by integrating effective water management and ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change, which will help reduce soil erosion and pollution, whilst benefiting both people and nature.

The Lake Kivu Basin and Rusizi River Catchment altitudinal gradient has been identified as a priority area to test the CRAG approach as it is made up of nine terrestrial and four freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas (KBASs). For the approach to be effective in tackling topics from conservation, energy provision, soil erosion, transport, human health and climate regulation, a large range of stakeholders will need to be involved.

To realise the projects potential, piloting will occur at the three most climate vulnerable sites in the Lake Kivu Basin and Rusizi River Catchment area. Networks of local communities will work with government agencies, authorities and NGOs in a participatory process to develop plans for the regions to make the altitudinal gradients more climate resilient for the benefit of both communities and wildlife.

This case study is taken from ‘The Messengers: What birds tell us about threats from climate change and solutions for nature and people’. To download the report in full click here


BirdLife International (2015) Enhancing climate change resilience in Great Lakes region watersheds: the Lake Kivu catchment and Rusizi River CRAG. Available at:

Compiled: 2015    Copyright: 2015   

Recommended Citation:
BirdLife International (2015) Climate Resilient Altitudinal Gradients (CRAGs) provide a focus for action in East Africa. Downloaded from on 19/03/2018