In April 2018, The Zambezi Society began work on a 3-year project funded by the European Union and managed by the African Wildlife Foundation, to assess the extent to which small-scale tobacco farming in the community lands of Hurungwe District just south of Mana Pools National Park was causing the deforestation of the natural woodland of the Zambezi escarpment areas.

(See Tackling the Deforestation caused by Tobacco Farming)

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Our team was also tasked with trying to understand the roots of the problem, assessing to what extent the community realises that there is a problem, finding ways of mitigating the environmental damage occurring, and finding solutions (e.g. the introduction of alternative technologies for tobacco-curing).

The Zambezi Society’s community representative, Arthur Mavhima (pictured above at extreme left), presented feedback on our initial findings at a stakeholder meeting held in Karoi in December 2018. This was attended by traditional leaders from the area, including 5 local chiefs, headmen, and public service representatives from Hurungwe District Council, the District Administrator, ZimParks, the Forestry Commission and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).

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Meanwhile, work has progressed on the establishment of a Community-Based Conservation (CBC) initiative to specialise in projects focused on community areas in the Zambezi Valley.

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This initiative already works in Chief Chundu’s area of Hurungwe district (see Community Work: Painting a School) and hopes to extend projects into Gache Gache and Binga (at the south-eastern and western ends of Lake Kariba, respectively)

This will focus on issues such as:

  • trans-frontier boundaries (Zimbabwe/Zambia)

  • opportunities for student research projects focused on conservation issues in the Zambezi Valley

  • setting up a young rangers training programme at the RIFA Education Centre for young people in the community areas surrounding the Zambezi National Parks

  • involving communities surrounding Zambezi Valley National Park areas in the production of meat and poultry products to supplement ranger rations.

Zambezi Society