Kafue Greater Ecosystem, Zambia 

The Greater Kafue Ecosystem (GKE) — composed of the Kafue National Park (KNP) and its’ ‘buffer zone’ of nine adjacent Game Management Areas (GMAs) — is the second largest conservation landscape in Africa, providing habitat to a host of endangered and endemic species.  

The communities surrounding the GMA live under the poverty line, having high unemployment rates and limited livelihood possibilities. Moreover, there is little technical assistance or capital to practice sustainable agriculture. As a result, these conditions promote dependency on natural resources, making charcoal harvesting, poaching and slash-and-burn agriculture within the GMAs common practice. These practices have led to severe landscape degradation, making the communities even more vulnerable to climate effects, and threatening the preservation of the KNP.  

In 2021, Commonland partnered with By Life Connected to sense into the landscape and develop a common vision for restoration and management in the GMA’s. By Life Connected is now building on this first project, by partnering with TNC to pilot a Collaborative Management Partnership for the GMA’s and their affiliated chiefdoms. These Collaborative Management Partnerships, which will include stakeholders from relevant chiefdoms, NGOs and government, will ensure fair usage of resources and protection of the GMAs from continued degradation.  

Vision 

With By Life Connected and TNC, we aim to co-create a functional management structure and a shared vision for landscape restoration for the GMAs of Kafue – one that will benefit both the people and the environment they live in.   

Challenges:  

  • Deforestation, loss of wildlife and soil erosion contribute to landscape degradation. 
  • Poverty, high unemployment rates and limited livelihood opportunities. 
  • Poor road and network infrastructure that limits communication and law enforcement between and within communities. 
  • No Management Plans for the GMAs and a lack of up-to-date data. 
  • Poor governance structures, which has led to an over-exploitation of resources.  

Opportunities:  

  • Improve social cohesion and shared vision for the landscape. 
  • Develop structured management and boundaries to prevent resource depletion. 
  • Scale rehabilitation efforts through central management. 
  • Foster sustainable business activities in the GMA that are viable enough that a conservation dividend can be generated. 
  • Invest in sustainable food systems in the surrounding economic zone. 

What has happened in the different zones

  • Economic Zone

Economic Zone projects:

To develop sustainable economic productivity which can improve livelihood stability and food security in the local communities, BLC has:

  • started a 6Ha organic model farm for farmer training in sustainable agriculture techniques,
  • organized the construction of 4 climate-resilient check-dams, as a pilot for future check-dams to be built in 31 more communities,
  • developed 2 one-acre community vegetable gardens around the check-dams, which are now maintained by the local community and are used to feed 30 families,
  • piloted a bamboo plantation of 1900 bamboo trees to provide a sustainable wood source for the community’s timber and fuelwood needs, and
  • developed conservation education clubs for primary school children in four local primary schools, which teach conservation topics and organize trips for the children to visit the local lodges and protected areas.