Zambia’s First ‘Partnership Park’, a Model for African Protected Areas, and Alternatives to Extractive Industry Development

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In 2006 the UNDP/GEF initiated an innovative program with the Zambian government and Zambian Wildlife Authority. The objective of the project is to reclassify the ‘semi-protected’ wildlife area along the Zambezi River, which forms the buffer zone between the Lower Zambezi National Park to the east and the highly populated areas to the west. In its new status the reclassified lands will enjoy the same protected status as the National Park, but will operate under a new paradigm as a partnership between community and local leaseholders (mostly safari lodge owners) and the Zambian Wildlife Authority.  The process is in its final stages, and soon the area will be proclaimed Zambia’s first Partnership Park. The model will allow for private/community management of wildlife populations and eco-systems within the Chiawa Partnership Park.  Protection of the vast extant wildlife populations is a top priority, as is the reintroduction of lost species including eland, rhino and cheetah. Revenues generated from park fees will go back into its management and development within the neighboring communities. Significant sustainable development activities have already been launched by the newly formed Lower Zambezi Conservation Trust, (a partnership between the Chiawa Leaseholders Association and community), including training of professional game scouts and creation of protected farms and craft manufacturing. If the public/private partnership model is successful it will likely be expanded throughout Zambia.

Unfortunately these efforts may be threatened through unsustainable extractive industries. Multiple exploratory mining projects have recently commenced in the Lower Zambezi Catchment Area, from Lake Kariba downstream along the Zambezi River, through the new Partnership Park, and within the Lower Zambezi National Park. These activities and the possibility of mineral extraction have caused deep concern among the partners, and have been publicly questioned by the Zambian Wildlife Authority. Currently exploratory open-pit copper mining is taking place inside the Lower Zambezi National Park and deep-pit copper mining exploration and associated cyanide-gold mining is underway within the proposed Partnership Park site at the source of the Chongwe River which feeds into the Zambezi, Southern Africa’s second largest water source.  Of even greater concern are the exploratory open-pit uranium mining operations on the shores of Lake Kariba and on the banks of the Kafue River, another tributary to the Zambezi. Over 800,000 people rely on this river for their livelihoods, as do globally significant wildlife populations. Accidents have already occurred at the exploratory copper mining site above. These events and the clear threat they pose for the future of the Zambezi Catchment Area, the new Partnership Park, and community projects have prompted local leaders, and Zambian and international NGOs to draw attention to the urgency of the situation.

Zambia’s First ‘Partnership Park’
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Date CreatedFriday, February 27, 2009 4:03 PM
Date ModifiedFriday, February 27, 2009 4:08 PM
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