Biodiversity, Climate Change, Community, Community Development, Conservation, Lower Zambezi - Mana Pools TFCA, Partnerships, TFCAs, Water security

Zimbabwe and Peace Parks Foundation Sign Historic 20-Year Agreement to Co-Manage the Iconic Greater Mana Pools Ecosystem

The Government of Zimbabwe and Peace Parks Foundation signed a Co-Management Agreement for the Greater Mana Pools Ecosystem – home to World Heritage and Ramsar sites and a main draw of tourism income for the country. The long-term partnership agreement underscores a shared dedication to effective stewardship of this iconic landscape, grounded in a robust and sustainable financial framework that was built on an entrepreneurial approach.

The signing ceremony, hosted by Dr Fulton Mangwanya, Director General of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks), and Mr Werner Myburgh, Chief Executive Officer of Peace Parks Foundation, signifies a momentous step towards long-term financial sustainability for the region, that will secure the future of the landscape and all the life within it. This 20-year agreement unlocks meaningful and critically needed cooperation to protect unique ecosystems, enable community development, and cultivate a robust, sustainable wildlife economy within Mana Pools and surrounds. It also represents a policy-level agreement, in addition to planning and implementation that will ultimately result in healthy people living in a healthy landscape.

The partnership we have signed aims to support ZimParks’ initiatives and the implementation of its strategic plan by building and developing capacity, enhancing the organisation’s capability to execute its conservation mandate. Biodiversity conservation is high on the global and national agenda, and we are confident that this partnership will contribute to Zimbabwe’s national development priorities.

Dr Fulton Mangwanya, Director General of ZimParks
The celebration of the signing ceremony, hosted by Dr Fulton Mangwanya, Director General of ZimParks, and Mr Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation, was attended by other representatives of the Government of Zimbabwe and Peace Parks.

Through this agreement, a Trust will be established for management, capacity building and business development that is grounded in good governance, transparency, accountability and collaborative decision-making. A dedicated Board of Trustees will take the lead in managing the natural resources within the Greater Mana Pools Ecosystem. This brings a diverse approach, allowing the area to be managed in a business-like manner that attracts investment, creates employment, drives development and, ultimately, sustainability.

Humans and nature are intimately connected here; when one flourishes the other thrives. We believe that through this innovative approach to conservation management, we can unlock significant social and economic development of the area that will ensure the sustainable flow of benefits to the people living in the landscape.

Mr Werner Myburgh, Chief Executive Officer of Peace Parks Foundation
The Greater Mana Pools Ecosystem occupies 9,636 km² of the total 18,515 km² Lower Zambezi-Mana Pools Transfrontier Conservation Area. Mana Pools National Park covers approximately 2,196 km² and is one of the world’s greatest natural splendours. Together with five safari areas and the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia it forms a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe played a crucial role in enabling this collaboration when they signed a Memorandum of Understanding in May 2023, formally establishing the 18,515 km² Lower Zambezi-Mana Pools Transfrontier Conservation Area. The Zimbabwean component of this transboundary landscape, which incorporates a significant component of the Zambezi River catchment area, is home to the 9,636 km² Greater Mana Pools Ecosystem. Under the management and jurisdiction of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks), this ecosystem is vitally important to conserve, as it allows for the unimpeded movement of wildlife and cross-border tourism, stimulating high economic value to the countries and the region. It includes World Heritage and Ramsar sites, as well the internationally acclaimed Hurungwe, Sapi and Chewore safari areas. Mana Pools National Park, together with the Victoria Falls, is one of the main income generators for the country.

The sun sets over the Zambezi River in the iconic Mana Pools National Park, nestled within the Greater Mana Pools Ecosystem. The landscape’s outstanding natural beauty, diverse wildlife and designated World Heritage and Ramsar sites make it an exceptional asset to the country and a significant source of tourism-based income.

The undertaking of this co-management agreement serves as a catalytic development intended to support the joint intentions and commitments of the two governments in relation to the transboundary landscape. Benefits will be experienced both directly, by local industries, businesses, people and wildlife dependent on the national park, and ‘downstream’ in the Lower Zambezi valley. This underlines the importance of like-minded entities coming together to pursue new ideas to improve the management of protected areas and the health of ecosystems at scale.

Mana Pools is remote, and remains one of the few real wilderness areas left in the world. It hosts large permanent populations of hippo and crocodile, and famously draws large herds of elephant and approximately 380 bird species.
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