On Planet Earth, as we know it, there remain very few places where nature is truly unspoilt and free of human interference. With a population explosion over the past century, advanced modes of travel and communications, wars, the need for infrastructure, minerals, fences, all coupled with man's unfortunate greed, we have encroached further and further on the biodiversity that will only be missed when it is finally destroyed. Most of us realise the need for a balance between modern day economic pressures and the lasting conservation of nature. Conservation encompasses more than written policies and law enforcement and its success is largely dependant on the realisation of alternative economic opportunities, the effective awareness we create among our younger generation and their environmental education.
The global awareness campaigns of organisations such as Greenpeace, WildAid, the Endangered Wildlife Trust and inspiring individuals such as Lewis Pugh, reach a large part of the world's population, but mainly to those with access to the Internet, television, bookstores and, above all, education. Thus it can be said that conservation is only a concern of the privileged. Whereas, to those living on the breadline in communities where the lack of education, employment, clean drinking water, food security, medical care and sanitation takes first priority in the daily struggle for survival, the concern for conservation hardly features. Only by working closely together with members of these communities, so learning about their lives, will we be able to achieve their better understanding of the need for conservation and the long-term economic and social benefits this will ultimately bring for them.
Lower Zambezi Conservation Trust
It's all about working together for the future. With that in mind, Tim Featherby, of Baines' River Camp, was delighted to hear of a project covering the reclassification of protected areas to be managed as public-private partnerships for the greater economic benefit of the local communities. A project ideally suitable for the Chiawa GMA, with approximately 17,000 people living in the western sector and a number of tourist establishments located in the east. Canvassing the support of fellow operators, the local Chieftainess, HRH Chieftainess Chiyaba, the local community, the Zambia Wildlife Authority, the Ministry of Tourism, Environment & Natural Resources and the United Nations Development Fund, it was not long before the concept of the Lower Zambezi Conservation Trust was borne. A Public-Private Partnership, with balanced representation on its board, that will ultimately manage the protected area to be proclaimed as the Chiawa Partnership Park, with operations primarily funded by a tourist bed levy of $10 ppn and related park entry fees. The sole beneficiaries of the Trust are Conservation and the Chiawa people with funding being divided equally between conservation activities and community development projects.
Whilst this work commenced in 2008, with the installation of a large protected farming area, designed to protects crops against marauding elephants and hippos, and a number of other projects, the final proclamation of the Chiawa Partnership Park, and the proper funding of the Trust, has been delayed by the need to introduce the appropriate legal framework in Zambian law.
Conservation – Chiawa Partnership Park
A team of 16 Scouts has successfully undergone the rigorous training program at ZAWA's training facilities at Nyamaluma (South Luangwa National Park). Shown on this page is one such scout proudly saluting at the Passing Out Parade attended by HRH Chieftainess Chiyaba and many other dignitaries.
On returning home, the scouts responsibilities will not only be law enforcement in their anti-poaching activities. As members of the community they will educate and spread the word on the need for the protection of wildlife through the simple motto "Wildlife equals Tourism and Tourism equals Employment".
Community – Skills Development Program
50% of the revenues generated by the Chiawa Partnership Park will be allocated to community developments projects which will ultimately include;
- Economic Empowerment & Food Security
- Protected crop farms;
- Fish farming;
- Horticultural production for sale to neighbouring tourist establishments;
- Bee keeping;
- Craft production.
- Environmental education in association with CLZ;
- School books and stationery;
- Primary Healthcare
- Child care and infant feeding programs
- Support for clinics
- Sport & Recreations
- Soccer league