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Marking another major step in southern Africa’s transfrontier conservation development, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Malawi, Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika, and His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu on 7 July 2015 signed the treaty that formally establishes the Malawi-Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre, Malawi.
The presidents welcomed the establishment of the TFCA as a concrete example of the long and close relations that exist between their two countries, as well as of their focus on conservation, economic development, cultural integration and on community development.
His Excellency Mr Joaquim Chissano, the former president of the Republic of Mozambique and vice-chairman of Peace Parks Foundation warmly congratulated Malawi and Zambia for their sprit of regional development and cooperation, which is a key to Africa’s growth and stability.
Implications of the treaty signing
A memorandum of understanding towards the TFCA’s establishment was signed on 13 August 2004. A joint law enforcement project operating as a single unit across international borders to combat poaching, the only one of its kind, has since been deployed with success, resulting in an increase in wildlife numbers.
In signing the Malawi-Zambia Treaty the partner states undertake to uphold the basic principle of conservation, which states that the right to utilise natural resources comes with the obligation of doing so in a responsible manner so as to safeguard the welfare and continued existence of these natural resources for posterity.
The partner states have also made an undertaking in the treaty to create forums to provide opportunities for all stakeholders to actively get involved in decision-making processes regarding the formulation of policies, strategies and practices for the development and management of the Malawi-Zambia TFCA.
The signing of the Malawi-Zambia TFCA Treaty is, therefore, a clear statement of intent and a demonstration of the unwavering commitment by the governments of Malawi and Zambia to make the TFCA a programme that epitomises and showcases benefit sharing, equality, good governance, collaboration and cooperation.
Malawi and Zambia are signatories to various regional protocols and international conservation conventions that promote collaboration in the conservation and management of shared natural resources along their international boundaries. The Malawi-Zambia Treaty will help these partner states to directly and indirectly realise the goals and objectives of their regional and international conservation obligations.
In 2011, the World Bank approved a Global Environmental Facility trust grant of $4.82 million for the cross-border management of biodiversity in the TFCA. In addition, co-financing commitments were secured from the Norwegian Embassy in Malawi, the governments of Malawi and Zambia, and Peace Parks Foundation for a total amount of $11.09 million over the next five years. Vehicles and equipment were procured for the TFCA and extensive maintenance undertaken on roads, entrance gates and staff houses and offices, while new staff houses were constructed. The German Federal Ministry of Cooperation and Development has committed $24.2 million to SADC, through KfW, to develop infrastructure in the TFCA.
Integrated Management Development Framework
On 5 July 2015, the Minister of information, Tourism and Culture of Malawi, Hon. Kondwani Nankhumwa, MP and the Minister of Tourism and Arts of Zambia, Hon. Jean Kapata, MP signed the Malawi-Zambia TFCA’s Integrated Management Development Framework (IMDF). The IMDF process is a comprehensive and participatory planning process that aligns the planning and development of the different tiers of government with those of the private sector and communities. It also informs the national development strategy of that particular area.
The IMDF is a rolling plan with a five-year horizon that will be operationalised through plans of constituent protected areas; a joint operational strategy; various other strategies and plans including annual work plans and a monitoring and evaluation and reporting framework and programme, guiding the work of various structures instituted as part of the Malawi-Zambia TFCA.
Features of the TFCA
Malawi-Zambia TFCA, measuring 31 792 km², is centred around the Nyika Plateau, a high undulating montane grassland plateau that rises over 2 000 metres above the bushveld and wetlands of the Vwaza Marsh. The vegetation above 1 800 metres is predominantly montane grassland, interspersed with evergreen forest. These high-lying areas are often shrouded in mist, giving them a unique appeal. In summer a multitude of wild flowers and orchids burst forth in the highlands, making it a sight unlike any seen in most other game parks. The TFCA also includes North Luangwa National Park which boasts the big five: elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard and lion. The southern component of the TFCA consists of Kasungu National Park and Lukusuzi National Park which represents the last and largest contiguous area of undisturbed, relatively pristine miombo woodland of the Central African Plateau.
The TFCA is an important component in the tourism development of the two countries and may eventually see a tourism route linking North and South Luangwa, through Nyika to Lake Malawi.
Issued by the Ministry of Information, Tourism and Culture of Malawi