Mid Zambezi valley biodiversity project receives Global Environment Facility (GEF) Vehicles
The “Strengthening Biodiversity and Ecosystems Management and Climate-Smart Landscapes in the Mid to Lower Zambezi Region of Zimbabwe” project received a donation of Global Environment Facility (GEF) Vehicles in Harare yesterday.
The minister of environment and climate, Mangaliso Ndlovu, commissioned the handover of the vehicles at the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) head office in Harare.
The project’s objective is to promote an integrated landscape approach to managing wildlife resources, carbon and ecosystem services in the face of climate change in protected areas and communal lands of the Mid to Lower Zambezi Regions of Zimbabwe.
“We receive these vehicles when we have intensified our conservation efforts and up-scaled our anti-poaching activities after indications of an upsurge of poaching attempts.
“As you are aware, to date, fifteen vehicles were handed over on the 4th of September 2019.
“These vehicles have assisted in increasing foot print on law enforcement in the project area and beyond,” Ndlovu said at the handover ceremony.
The government previously received US$10,025,964 under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) 6 Cycle, and US$2 million from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as co-financing for this project.
“The expected outcomes of the project include an increased national capacity for Illegal Wildlife Trade control, and integrated wildlife and woodland management.
“Improved capacity of Protected Area network and CAMPFIRE Wildlife Conservancies to protect globally significant biodiversity of the mid-lower Zambezi region over a total area of 1,616,900 hectares,” Ndlovu said.
Ndlovu further indicated that the project also seeks to increase the area under sustainable management and increase benefits for local communities from Community Based Wildlife Management, Sustainable Forest Management and Sustainable Land Management in established Community Wildlife Conservancies.
The Zambezi Valley Biodiversity Project is being implemented in Hurungwe, Muzarabani and Mbire Districts in the northern part of the country.
Georges van Montfort, the resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) expressed that the project is facilitating the establishment of six community wildlife conservancies (CWCs) across the project area.
“There are 21 wards that are participating in the establishment of these community conservancies, with a population of 131,000 and 29,000 households.
“Community wildlife conservancies provide an opportunity for inclusive management of wildlife areas and diversification of natural resource utilisation, other than safari hunting,” Montfort said at the handover ceremony.
Montfort added that conservation challenges in the project area include wildlife poaching, deforestation, land degradation and human-wildlife conflict.
“There is need for coordinated effort from all stakeholders to mitigate these challenges,” Montfort said further.
ZimParks supports most of their operations from tourism revenue, and support of donors and partners in the private sector and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) community and because of COVID-19, their income has been severely affected.
This means that ZimParks is faced with a funding gap to support critical operational functions, such as anti-poaching surveillance and monitoring of wildlife populations.
“The COVID-19 pandemic across the African region has shown an increase in poaching and poaching attempts, and Zimbabwe is no exception to this.
“As a result, there is the need for more support for conservation of wildlife in the Zambezi Valley,” Montfort said.
It’s understood that some areas that are normally frequented by tourists and did not require intensive patrolling, now require ranger presence.
The additional vehicles and tractors will facilitate the required actions to be undertaken.
“In addition, in response to COVID and the increased needs, the Project will immediately facilitate the purchase of patrol rations, patrol fuel, drones and boats for a combined total of $289,000.
“A a total of 17 boreholes are being drilled in the project area and will provide water for both communities and wildlife,” Montfort said further.
ZimParks director general Fulton Mangwanya welcomed the donations and expressed that the sector is in itself a risky venture as the people on the ground have to deal with poachers and other hazards that game rangers face such as veld fires and attacks from wild animals.
“This is a very risky venture and we would like to thank our partners, UNDP, for coming in handy to make sure that we deliver the desired results,” he said.
The donation will go towards ZimParks, Environmental Management Agency (EMA), the forestry commission, Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) Association and Rural District Councils.