The discourse about conservation has been marred with debates on whether or not communities can acquire economic benefits from conservation activities, especially in developing countries. Being a developing country, Zambia requires conservation activities which factors in the livelihood of concerned communities. WECSZ is endeavouring to deliver projects oriented at conserving biodiversity while supporting strong sustainability and livelihood improvement of local communities.
In the last quarter of 2016, WECSZ with funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) began to implement a project in the Mafinga Afromontane Ecosystem. This area is home to the Mafinga Hills. The Mafinga Hills boasts of a number of endemic species. These species are however increasingly threatened due to increased population pressure and unsustainable land practices among others. In order to ensure biodiversity conservation in the Mafinga afromontane ecosystem, WECSZ embarked on developing a locally driven biodiversity conservation mainstreaming project.
There was however, scanty locally developed and documented information on priority conservation problems and development threats in the Mafinga Hills. WECSZ thus conducted an informative research in 2015 to identify local communities’ and stakeholders’ perspectives of key threats of the Mafinga afromontane ecosystem and interventions that would address these key threats.
The key threats identified in the research include the following: 1) Expanding agriculture activities into the marginal and fragile riverine forests at the headwaters of the Luangwa River and all its tributary drainages? and the Malungule Stream; 2) Low and declining water flow on the Key Biodiversity Area’s (KBA) rivers/streams, namely the Malungule Stream? Luangwa, Ntonga and Malonje Rivers; 3) New and extensive Chitemene (cut and burn system of agriculture) fields in the KBA. The foregoing threats are being compounded by the local communities’ lack of awareness on National policies/laws put in place to protect biodiversity and the implementation thereof.
We will continuously provide updates on the project progress through this space.