Biodiversity, Climate Change, Community, Community Development, Conservation, General, Lower Zambezi - Mana Pools TFCA, Malawi Zambia TFCA, Nyika National Park, Partnerships, Rewilding, Sioma Ngwezi National Park, TFCAs, Tourism, Transboundary Landscapes, Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve

Peace Parks’ Partnership Pacts to Protect Biodiversity

Conservation-friendly agriculture training underway in Mozambique's Maputo National Park. Projects which offer skills development are key to empowering communities to become involved in the governance of protected areas.

Historic. Ambitious. A win for the planet. Those were the words used in 2022 to describe the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, an ambitious pact signed by 198 countries to protect, restore and live in harmony with the natural world. It includes goals and targets from here to 2050 that aim to protect biodiversity, halt species extinction, and ensure that natural resources are used responsibly. This comes at a time when more than 44,000 species are documented as being at risk of extinction. If these are lost, it would have immense consequences for the ecosystems that stabilise the climate and that provide billions of people around the world with clean water, livelihoods, homes, and cultural preservation.  

The sun sets over the Zambezi River in the iconic Mana Pools National Park, nestled within the Greater Mana Pools Ecosystem. The landscape boasts outstanding natural beauty, abundant wildlife and designated World Heritage and Ramsar sites. It is also a significant source of tourism-based income. Prospects for thriving people and wildlife are exciting in light of the recent co-management agreement between the Government of Zimbabwe and Peace Parks Foundation.

On the framework’s one-year anniversary, “The Biodiversity Plan” was launched that communicates and promotes the goals and targets to the world. This is crucial to enabling a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach that will take us from agreement to action. It encourages worldwide cooperation and partnerships between governments, Indigenous peoples and local communities, non-governmental organisations, lawmakers, businesses, and individuals. Combined efforts for nature, backed by political will, is our best chance to safeguard nature and build people’s resilience to climate change, sharing benefits fairly, and coexisting peacefully in the long term.

Partnerships for Peace and Progress

At Peace Parks Foundation, partnerships are the ultimate key to conservation success, at scale. Protecting and restoring biodiversity across southern Africa’s borders is too significant a challenge to be done alone. It calls for partnerships between like-minded organisations, drawing on the strengths that each role player brings to the table. Now more than ever, working with governments can provide powerful solutions to address biodiversity loss and fight climate change.

In June 2023, Malawi’s Minister of Tourism, The Hon. Vera Kamtukule, and CEO of Peace Parks Foundation, Werner Myburgh, signed a ground-breaking 20-year co-management agreement to secure the long-term protection and sustainability of two vital ecological havens in Malawi: Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. This marks a key development for wildlife conservation and the wellbeing of communities dependent on the two protected areas, to be efficiently managed as one landscape.

Recent agreements between governments and Peace Parks cover some of southern Africa’s most biodiverse but vulnerable landscapes. These pioneering pacts are establishing effective, inclusive co-management, bringing together diverse perspectives, knowledge, and expertise.

We are at the heart of a landmark phase of conservation co-management models evolving in Africa, and the past two years have brought three significant developments for Peace Parks as a partner to governments. In Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, we have forged new, groundbreaking pathways to restore landscapes and biodiversity, and support the communities dependent on both.

Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation


Joining Hands with the Governments of Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe

In June 2023, Peace Parks signed a 20-year co-management agreement with the Government of Malawi to secure the long-term protection and sustainability of Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. Nyika is Malawi’s oldest and largest national park. The landscape is unique, and home to a number of endemic orchids. It supplies a vast volume of water from its plateau that feeds into Lake Malawi – a vital resource, and source of income supporting millions of people. Vwaza is a unique wetland and Ramsar Site due to its significant role in supporting diverse plant and animal species, particularly waterbirds. For the first time in the country’s history, an independent trust is being established that will effectively manage these conservation areas while bringing together the Government, NGOs, private sector and communities on equal footing.

Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve is situated at the westernmost edge of Malawi, within the Malawi-Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area. Despite its modest 1,000 km² area, it boasts uniquely biodiverse wetlands, woodlands and plentiful wildlife – with a notable highlight being the largest elephant population in northern Malawi.

In November, the Government of Zimbabwe signed an agreement with Peace Parks to co-manage the iconic Greater Mana Pools Ecosystem over the next 20 years, home to World Heritage and Ramsar sites of international natural and cultural value. Mana Pools National Park, together with the Victoria Falls, is one of the main tourism drawcards and income generators for the country. Protecting and restoring the greater ecosystem and developing the ecotourism industry will support healthy people living in a healthy landscape.

This year, the Government of Zambia through the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) in collaboration with the Barotse Royal Establishment, WWF Zambia and Peace Parks, entered into a unique agreement to co-manage Zambia’s Sioma Ngwezi Management Complex for the next 20 years. The complex forms part of the Kavango Zambezi transboundary landscape, the world’s largest transfrontier conservation area, and home to Africa’s largest savanna elephant population. Amongst its quarter of a million animals, more than 3,000 different plant species thrive in the savannas, wetlands, and forests, and more than 500 bird species populate the skies. Through this agreement, Indigenous people and local communities will be able to make decisions that affect their futures, as well as the prospects for biodiversity.

Provincial leaders and herders gather at the first cattle fair to be held as part of the Herding for Health programme, in Limpopo National Park Mozambique. Farmers are being empowered to lead this conservation-friendly community initiative, which promotes healthy lives, livestock, wildlife and ecosystems, in harmony with each other.

Biodiversity Hope into Action

A recent, first-of-its-kind study in Science provides the strongest evidence to date that conservation efforts are working, from species to ecosystem levels across all continents. It shows that scaling strategies and drawing on political will are key to restoring biodiversity and, with it, hope. This proof strengthens the case for working with governments to protect Nature Without Borders.

It would be too easy to lose any sense of optimism in the face of ongoing biodiversity declines. However, our results clearly show that there is room for hope.

Associate Professor Joseph Bull at the University of Oxford, co-author of the study

For 27 years, Peace Parks has partnered to protect biodiversity at scale, with optimism and determination, and extends deep appreciation to governments for helping bring global goals within reach, in time for 2030 and beyond.

Black rhino are classified by the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered, numbering just 6,487 as stated in the 2023 State of the Rhino Report. Through Peace Parks’ collaborative efforts with Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas and partners, there is renewed hope for this species in Mozambique. A recent series of landmark translocations led to the reintroduction of a founder herd to Zinave National Park. Here, black rhino are now establishing a healthy population for the first time in more than four decades, and helping to restore the greater ecosystem and benefit biodiversity.

The Hunger Project: Feeding communities and championing gender equality in Zinave


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