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Acronyms used in Botswana


Botswana Range Inventory and Monitoring Project


Department for International Development (United Kingdom)


Flow Regimes from International Experimental and Network Data


National Conservation Strategy

Country Profile

Land Surface

Land Area: 582 000 sq km

Formally conserved area: 17%

Area transformed by cultivation: 2%


Population: 1 630 000

Urban percentage: 28%

Population growth rate: 2.45%


GDP in 1998: US$4 864 million at current prices

GDP Growth rate (1993-1998): 4.8% (at constant prices)

Contribution to GDP by tourism and hunting: 3% (1998)

Contribution to GDP by agriculture: 3.1% (1998)

Contribution to GDP by mining: 37.6% (1998)


Political system: Parliamentary democracy

Environmental governance: Principally at a national level


Arid, ranging from 650 mm (rainfall) per annum in the northeast to less than 250 mm in the southwest.

Landform and geology

Botswana is a flat country, dominated by the Kalahari sand sheet, which covers the underlying geology for over more than 80% of the surface area. As a result, there are few permanent surface waters, although there are many features reflecting a moister past.


With the exception of the wetlands associated with the Okavango Delta, the Savuti Marsh and Linyanti River in the north, the entire country falls within the savanna biome. The tree density and height varies greatly, from low, sparse shrubs (frequently Acacia species) in the extremely arid regions, to 15 m tall, near-closed canopy Baikaea plurijuga woodlands in the moist areas. Substantial areas in the north-central region are covered by stands of Colophospermum mopane. There are several treeless areas (arid grasslands), typically associated with ancient drainage lines or lake floors, and large areas of saline pans, which are unvegetated. Crop agriculture is confined to a relatively small area (300 000 ha) on the eastern and northern margin of the country, off the Kalahari sands and in areas with rainfall above 450 mm. The principal crops are maize, sorghum, millet and pulses.

This vegetation historically supported a large, migratory ungulate community, with attendant predators. Although this community is still mostly intact and numerous, due to the large areas set aside for conservation, its migratory behaviour has been greatly reduced by the erection of veterinary fences and the encroachment of cattle into former wildlife habitats.

Numerically, the biodiversity is moderate, since the underling geology is fairly uniform and the climate occupies a narrow range. Nevertheless, due to its spectacular nature, it is a major focus of the tourism industry, which is the third-largest (and rapidly growing) component of the GNP (after mining and livestock). It is highly likely that tourism will dominate the economy at some future stage.

Major Environmental Issues

Pollution and toxicity

Botswana is a lightly industrialized country with a relatively sparse population. As such, air pollution is not perceived to be a major problem at present. As in other countries in the region, widespread vegetation fires and dust in the dry winter months establish a moderately high background level of aerosols and ozone. A copper smelter located at Selibi-Pikwe is a significant source of sulphur dioxide. Vehicle use within the capital, Gaborone, and the towns of Francistown and Maun is increasing, and could be a future source of air pollutants. The national development strategy, which includes increased light industry, could lead to greater air pollution impacts in the future.

Biodiversity preservation

Botswana has the largest fraction of land area under formal conservation of any country in the world. The preservation of the large mammal and bird biota, as well as the unique landscapes of the Kalahari, the Okavango Delta, and the Chobe area, are especially important to the continued growth of the tourism sector. The principle tension is between wildlife and domestic livestock. Areas which were formerly very sparsely inhabited and lightly used, due to lack of water, geographic isolation and the presence of cattle diseases, are now becoming accessible to cattle raisers due to the development of new roads, boreholes and veterinary services.

Land quality

The arable land area in Botswana is small, due to the low rainfall and the sandy, infertile soils, which prevail over most of the country. Maintenance of the productive potential of this scarce resource is a key issue: soil erosion and bush encroachment (and its opposite, depletion of woody cover) are perceived as significant threats.

Freshwater resources

Botswana is generally an arid country, with little surface water except in the far north. Much of the country depends on groundwater. Major issues are the rate of groundwater replenishment relative to the rate of extraction, and groundwater quality. The quality and quantity of inflows to the Okavango delta are also key variables.

Climate change

Recurrent droughts are a major feature of life in Botswana. Climate variability and any changes in variability or trends in aridity would be of major importance to Botswana.

Status of National Environmental Observing Systems

Institutional framework

Government Organizations



EIS Functions

Ministry of Transport and Works

Meteorological Department

Collects, analyses and disseminates weather data

Ministry of Agriculture

Agricultural Resources Board

Wide powers, especially around drought interventions and fires

Dept. of Agricultural Planning and Statistics

Collects and publishes (annually) data on agricultural inputs and outputs

Department of National Parks and Wildlife

Aerial survey of wildlife

Botswana Range Inventory and Monitoring Project (BRIMP)

Vegetation inventory and monitoring of rangeland condition

Ministry of Mineral Resources and Water Affairs

Dept. of Water Affairs

Monitoring ground and surface waters, quantity and quality

Dept. of Mines, Air pollution control division

Air quality

Ministry of Local Government, Lands and Housing

National Conservation Strategy Advisory Board

Coordination between government departments on sustainable development

Ministry of Health

Environmental Health Unit

Hazardous waste, human health issues

Ministry of Finance

Central Statistics Office

Economic and population statistics

Parastatal Organizations

Botswana Power Generation Corporation

Operates the only thermal power station in Botswana

Non-governmental Organizations

Kalahari Conservation Society

Wildlife and birds

Veld Products

Community-based natural resource management

Analysis of existing sites

The tier definitions applied below follow those of GTOS

Name of site Responsible agency




Tier 2: Long-term, permanently staffed sites conducting advanced observations on many variables, often with experimentation

Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre (U Botswana)

19.92 S

23.59 E

Recently established, has a flux tower operated in conjunction with the Max Plank Institute. Operate throughout the Okavango delta and surrounds

Tier 3: Long-term, staffed sites routinely observing a core set of variables (research stations)

Sebele Agricultural College

24.45 S

25.55 E

Agricultural research station; mainly livestock research

Savuti wildlife research station

18.38 S

24.05 E

Wildlife research within the Chobe National Park and surrounds

Daily weather stations

Gaborone, Francistown, Maun and Ghanzi

Weather variables only

Tier 4: Locations which are periodically visited

BRIMP monitoring plots


Currently 300, perhaps 600 in a few years time

Hydrological weirs

North and east

10 (4 of which are part of WHYCOS)

Monitored well fields


17 (increasing to 30), automatic

Weather stations


400 (20 automatic)

National networking

The Office for the Coordination of the National Conservation Strategy is the body with the formal mandate to ensure that environmental activities are coordinated across sectors. This is a relatively new office, and as yet there is not a great deal of evidence of national networking of environmental information systems. The scientific and technical community in Botswana is relatively small, and highly concentrated in Gaborone. Therefore most people involved in environmental observations know of the other players in the field.

International networking

Botswana is a signatory of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention for Combating Desertification, among other international environmental treaties. The hydrological network is linked to FRIEND and HYCOS, and the climate network contributes to WMO.

Legal framework for data handling

Almost all environmental data in Botswana are held by government agencies and in principle most of it is in the public domain, and available on request to other Botswana Government agencies, citizens of Botswana, consultants and researchers with bona fide reasons to use it. There is considerable sensitivity regarding its use by researchers and other organizations based outside of Botswana, based largely on a concern that the agencies which collected it will not be adequately recognized, or that the data will be used inappropriately.

Use of environmental information

The principle users of environmental information in Botswana are the Government departments themselves, for purposes of planning and regulation; consultants engaged in planning work in Botswana; and researchers, largely based at the University of Botswana.

Sectoral Environmental Information Systems

Weather and climate

The Meteorological Department in the Ministry of Transport and Works operates a network of about 400 rainfall stations and 14 temperature and humidity stations. The geographical coverage is sparse in the central Kalahari, which has few inhabitants and few roads. Data is measured daily on paper forms and submitted on a monthly basis to the head office in Gaborone, where they are entered onto the CLICOM database. Hourly surface meteorological data is measured at Gaborone, Ghanzi, Maun and Francistown, and upper-air soundings daily at Gaborone, Tsabong, Letsekane and Maun.

The earliest rainfall record is from 1909. The major part of the network was established after 1930, with the temperature stations added after 1958.

In addition to the above, there are 20 automatic weather stations (11 operated by the meteorological office, and nine by the Department of Hydrology). They collect temperature, wind, humidity, solar radiation and rainfall data hourly, and download the information via satellite. These stations are designed to fill the information gaps in the sparsely populated parts of the country, and only require servicing once every two years.

The Meteorological Department has a Meteosat and NOAA receiver, and has collected these data for four years. They have investigated the use of Cold Cloud Duration for rainfall estimation in remote areas.

Water resources

Surface water resources

Quantity of flow

The Department of Water Affairs (Ministry of Mineral Resources and Water Affairs) has operated a network of gauging stations on rivers and impoundments since 1969. There are approximately ten recorded stations, some of which have automatic chart recorders, which are visited daily, weekly or monthly. There are four WHYCOS stations that are installed or planned, which will collect water level data on a continuous basis, and download it via satellite link. These stations form part of the FRIEND network coordinated by the Institute of Hydrology (UK).

The data are captured in an electronic database called HYDATA, in Gaborone. The users are mainly consultants and researchers, to whom it is supplied free of charge on request.

Water quality

A new and sophisticated water analysis laboratory is located at Water Affairs in Gaborone. Samples are drawn weekly from about 87 stations nationwide and analysed for inorganic chemical constituents.

Groundwater resources

Every borehole that is drilled in Botswana must submit a drill record, after which a borehole certificate is issued. In the process, the location, depth to water, casing type, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) and pump test data are recorded in an electronic database maintained by the Department of Water Affairs, but shared with Geological Services. This database was begun in 1992. About a fifth of the boreholes are privately owned. Drilling is now done by private contractors, who require a registration number and must provide the drill logs to the Government.

Seventeen well fields (which will increase to 30) are monitored for water table levels and major ion chemistry. The water yield of each well in the well field is recorded monthly. The depth records of the 17 boreholes are automatically recorded and reported via satellite. The data originally went into the WELLMON database, which this is now too small, so a new database is now under development. The main users are the Ministry itself, and managers and consultants in the water sector. The monitoring of individual boreholes is now the responsibility of local Government.

The wells around mining areas are monitored for pollutants by the mining companies themselves. Water Affairs supervises this process.

Land cover, Land use, Land quality


The Botswana Range Inventory and Monitoring Project (BRIMP), a unit established in 1996 and initially funded by a DFID grant and located in the Ministry of Agriculture, is re-mapping and sampling the vegetation of Botswana. Approximately 20% of the task is complete. Ground data on species composition and cover is captured from 30x30 m permanent plots, of which 300 have been collected. The data are captured in GIS format.

Land use

Land use maps are produced in the planning office of the Department of Parks and Wildlife. Databases of hunting licenses and returns are maintained and used by the Department in setting annual hunting quotas. The Department of Local Government and Lands periodically compiles a national land use map at 1:1M scale.


BRIMP also generates various degradation maps and datasets, based on ground monitoring and the interpretation of Landsat images, specifically aimed at addressing desertification questions.


The soils of Botswana were surveyed by the FAO in 1979 at a reconnaissance scale of 1:250 000 (or 1:1M in the central Kalahari). In the process, 3 500 profiles were captured in a computer database, which can be used by specialists and consultants. An ongoing survey at 1:50 000 is taking place within the agricultural areas. There is a soil analysis laboratory at Sebele research station. No monitoring of soil quality occurs.

Agricultural productivity

Area planted with crops and forests, crop and plantation forest yields, and livestock

The Department of Agricultural Planning and Statistics (Ministry of Agriculture) is responsible for all agricultural statistics. In this task it collaborates closely with the Central Statistics Office of the Ministry of Finance, which is responsible for trade statistics and the decadal national census. Agricultural surveys are conducted annually, on the basis of a sampling frame established in 1992. There are about 50 numerators in the field on a continuous basis, each responsible for a district. In addition, there are ten data entry and analysis staff in Gaborone. Data on livestock numbers, area planted and crop yields are collected, as well as input costs and farming practices. Livestock data mostly come from dipping records. The 1995/6 survey was published at the end of 1999. The data are disseminated as an annual report, to about 400 users inside and out of Government. A nominal fee is charged.

In a separate study, a sample of 200 farmers is being followed for 15 years, for in-depth analysis.

The Department also coordinates the National Early Warning System, which completes a food balance sheet every three months, and monitors (with Water Affairs) rainfall (with the Meteorological office) and water availability for people and livestock. The nutritional levels of children under five, obtained from the Department of Health, is used as a key indicator.


The Environmental Health Unit (Dept. of Health) maintains a database of hazardous chemicals manufactured in, or imported to, Botswana. The Department of Agriculture maintains a database of pesticide use in Botswana.

Indigenous biological resources

Plant resources

‘Veld products’ (plant-derived natural resources) are important for subsistence in the rural areas. An NGO, Veld Products Research, and several USAID projects have focused on community based natural resource management, including innovative methods for community-based monitoring of the resource. Data on these aspects are only available for certain localities.

Animal resources

The Department of Parks and Wildlife has conducted aerial surveys to count wildlife since 1979. These surveys have been countrywide since 1989, and were conducted twice annually up to 1995. They are now flown annually, in the dry season. The sampling intensity ranges from 4 to 10%, depending on the wildlife density. This requires ten wildlife biologists, and takes two months using two aircraft. All animals are counted, including livestock. The main users of the data, other than the Department itself, are wildlife area concession holders.


Conserved areas

The planning section of the Department of Parks and Wildlife keeps a database of conserved areas.

Rare and endangered species

It is not known if there is a specific responsibility for the maintenance of these data.

Plants, mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates

There does not appear to be a centralized authority for all or any one of these taxa. Specialists are located in the University of Botswana and the Department of Parks and Wildlife. There are several active NGOs (Kalahari Conservation Society, Okavango Wilderness Society, Botswana Society), which bring together both specialists and amateurs.

Air quality

The air pollution control division of the Department of Mines is responsible for air quality. A small number of bubbler samplers for SO2 have operated since the mid-1970s. Total suspended aerosols have been measured since the 1990s. A new air quality network is proposed, consisting of 17 sites in ten towns, at which SO2 (14 sites), NOx (nine sites), CO (four sites), O3 (four sites), particulates (two sites) and hydrocarbons (one site) will be monitored on a continuous basis. The first samplers were commissioned in June 1999.

Precipitation chemistry is measured at Maun.

Ancillary data: economic activity and population statistics

The Central Statistics Office, in the Department of Finance, is responsible for population and economic activity data. National censuses are conducted once every ten years.

User Needs Assessment

Data and information needs

The National Conservation Strategy (NCS) coordinating office is a key information user. It is responsible for promotion of sustainable development, and is driving a legislative reform programme, as well as instituting Environmental Impact Assessments for major projects, Strategic Environmental Assessments, and State of the Environment Reporting. The availability of data for these purposes is at present untested. The NCS is an agency within the Ministry of Local Government, Lands and Housing. There is debate about whether NCS should not be in the Ministry of Finances (to facilitate one-point licensing of new enterprises) or a possible Ministry of the Environment (to try to unify the fragmented environmental responsibilities, currently distributed over at least five ministries). NCS was created by a White Paper (number 1 of 1990), and is broadly responsible for the coordination of a strategy leading to sustainable development. NCS maintains close linkages to the line function ministries, and in particular to the Agricultural Board and the Land Board.

The first SoER is to be undertaken this year (following failed attempts in the past). It will be performed by contractors, under the supervision of the NCS. Although the White Paper calls for a biennial SoER, in practice it is likely to be every 5 to 10 years.

It is the opinion of the NCS that it is not too early for the principal products of observation systems to be Internet-based. A distributed clearing-house type of data structure is preferred, with the main role of the central hub being meta-data maintenance and quality assurance. The main users are thought to be all levels of governance (from local to national) and consultants.

Another major information user is the Agricultural Resources Board. It receives maps of the area burned by vegetation fires, and drought stress indicators. Both types of map are generated by BRIMP from NOAA AVHRR data, on a quarterly basis, in the form of coarse (national) scale maps. Originally these products were delivered ten-daily, but this was found to lead to information overload. The map legends are kept simple (above average, average, below average) and have been effective in influencing the allocation of drought interventions. The maps are backed up by sociological information derived on the ground, relating to impacts.

From the perspective of an environmental lawyer closely associated with environmental policy-making and legislation in Botswana, there is not a large public demand for environmental information in Botswana. This is attributed to a low public awareness of environmental issues. People working within a sector generally have access to information through their networks of personal contacts.

Environmental legislation in Botswana is strongly influenced by the needs of international conventions, such as those on waste management, biodiversity, desertification and climate change.

Requirements raised by potential users of GTOS


Key Stakeholders


Person contacted

Areas of interest

National Conservation Strategy
Private Bag 0068
Gaborone, Botswana
tel: +267-302 050
fax: +267-302 051

Mr Stevie Monna

Coordination of sustainable development

Ministry of Water Affairs,
Department of Hydrology
Private Bag 0029
Gaborone, Botswana
tel: +267-351 601
fax: +267-030 508

Mr Muzila

Surface water flow and chemistry

Ministry of Water Affairs,
Department of Groundwater
Private Bag 0029
Gaborone, Botswana
tel: +267-351 601
fax: +267-030 508

Dr Thomas Reikel
Mr Alfred Adams

Groundwater availability and quality

Department of Wildlife and
National Parks
PO Box 131
Gaborone, Botswana
tel: +267-373 433
fax: +267-312 354
e-mail: [email protected]

Mrs Rapelang
tel:+267-371 405

Aerial wildlife census

Botswana Museum
Private Bag 00114
Gaborone, Botswana
tel: +267-374 616
fax: +267-302 797

Miss T Pule

Did not believe that the Botswana Museum was the right institution to engage with GTOS

Division of Mines
Private Bag 49
Gaborone, Botswana
tel: +267-365 7000
fax: +267-352 141
e-mail: [email protected]

Mr Choma Matale

Air quality

Dept. of Meteorological Services
PO Box 10100
Gaborone, Botswana
tel: +267-356 284
fax: +267-356 282

Ms Ramothwa

Communication by letter; expressed interest in GTOS

Kalahari Conservation Society
PO Box 859
Gaborone, Botswana
tel: +267-374 557

Mr Wazha Tema

Biodiversity, protected areas

Ministry of Health
Private Bag 00269
Gaborone, Botswana
tel: +267-352 000
fax: +267-350 100

Mr Denis Bella
Tel: +267-581850/3

Human health issues; hazardous materials

Ministry of Agriculture
Private Bag 003
Gaborone, Botswana
tel: +267-350 603/4
fax: +267-375 805

Dr Gakale
Mr HK Sigwele
Mr TD Mafoko

Agricultural Statistics Soil survey

Ministry of Agriculture, BRIMP
PO Box 710
Gaborone, Botswana
tel: +267-350 500
fax: +267-307 057
e-mail: [email protected]

Mr Raymond
Dr Greg Stewart Hill

Range inventory and monitoring

University of Botswana, Dept. Of
Environmental Sciences
Private Bag 0022
Gaborone, Botswana
tel: +267-355 0000
fax: +267-356 591

Prof Mosisi
tel: +267-355 2533

General environmental information

Private Bag 15
Jwaneng, Botswana
tel and fax +267-382 023
cell: 7210 7301
e-mail: [email protected]

Ms Nancy Basinyi-Moyo

Environmental law

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