- Learning Network
Challenges · Biodiversity · Deforestation · Food Security · Livelihoods · Water
The Chimanimani Transfrontier Conservation Area is a mountainous protected area spanning eastern Zimbabwe and western Mozambique. The region’s quartzite ridges, lowland tropical forests, afro-alpine grasslands, and evergreen forests are home to local communities as well as diverse wildlife, such as the eland, sable, klipspringer and leopard, and a variety of rare or endemic plants. Although the region is not densely populated, it has been significantly impacted by small-scale gold panning that began in the mid-2000s. About 10,000 miners flooded the area, developing makeshift camps, disturbing stream banks and riverbeds, and cutting down scarce trees for firewood. Developing more sustainable livelihood opportunities for residents near the conservation area and halting illegal activities that negatively impact biodiversity are key needs.
The development of environmentally sound, participatory strategies for community development in poor rural areas based both on people’s rights and responsibilities as human beings and citizens, has been the main thread underlining my working experience, particularly in the last 20 years.Milagre Nuvunga Executive Director, MICAIA Foundation
Since 2013, a coalition of stakeholders has worked to develop collaborative and participatory management approaches between the two countries to advance biodiversity conservation and sustainable local development. The MICAIA Foundation and Birdlife Zimbabwe have engaged traditional chiefs, community natural resource management committees, community rangers, Chimanimani Park administration departments in Mozambique and in Zimbabwe, village, council, district, province and central governments, research institutions, civil society groups, and private enterprises. Together, they have worked to map and create management plans with local communities, secure government certificates to protect community lands, train community forest ranges, developed the Moribane Forest Learning Centre with seed store, herbarium and training facilities, worked with research partners to facilitate the first botanical survey of highland grasslands, and identified sustainable livelihood opportunities such as tourism, beekeeping, and wild mushroom collection.
Buy-in from the conservation area administration, local government authorities, communities, and NGO facilitators, as well as international networks and funders, has been central to the budding success of the initiative. The inclusion of academic and research institutions has also been critical as it provides solid scientific information on which to base management decisions for conservation and development. Together, partners have engaged in biodiversity assessments, socio-economic studies, outreach on relevant national and international policies and agreements, the development of community institutions, a resource center, and networking and collaboration mechanisms.
To learn more about the project, please visit the BirdLife International website.