Threatened with deforestation, Zambia’s Chintumukulu Conservancy is surrounded by National Parks in which lions, leopards, elephants, hippopotamus, buffalo and other wildlife roam. This conservation project will be the first stepping stone in establishing the 68000-hectare Mpumba Forest Corridor – a 40km-wide wildlife corridor between South Luangwa National Park to the east and the Lavushi Manda National Park to the west – and will also create the vision, partnerships, strategy and action plan for a long-term programme to restore and protect this far larger forest landscape area.
The project will play an important role in eventually connecting the two parks to allow for a gene flow of important animal species, as well as making a long-lasting impact through avoided deforestation inside the conservancy.
It will also provide direct and indirect benefits for the communities around the Conservancy through employment, forest-friendly business development and capacity building.
- Protect and restore forests in the 8,474 ha Conservancy.
- Upgrade and expand the capacity of the Mpumba Natural Resources Conservation Society through capacity building and training.
- Increase support locally and nationally for the Conservancy by promoting good governance and developing forest-friendly livelihood programmes in its surroundings.
- Co-create a larger landscape vision to establish the Mpumba Forest Corridor through multi-stakeholder collaboration and joint visions for conservation in the area at large.
Why is intervention needed?
The Chintumukulu Conservancy sits within the unprotected forest landscape of the Mutinondo river catchment, an important buffer zone between two national parks – Lavushi Manda and South Luangwa. It is a unique location where the great Congo and Zambezi river basins meet and is a biodiversity hotspot, home to iconic animals including elephants, zebras and hartebeests, but several wildlife species have been hunted to local extinction.
Today, it is under significant threat of deforestation from land clearing for commercial farming, timber and charcoal production. Trees such as Pterocarpus tinctorius are no longer present in the area, and others such as Pterocarpus angolensis (Mukwa) are increasingly targeted and at risk.
Human-induced fires to clear the land inhibit forest regrowth and regeneration and have a severe effect on the capacity of the wetland areas to store carbon and retain water.
Working closely with the custodians of the forest...
The custodian of the Chintumukulu Conservancy is the Mpumba Natural Resources Conservation Society (MNRCS), a membership-based conservation society, to whom the area has now been assigned after a long legal battle of over 10 years.
Working closely together, WeForest and MNRCS will establish the Conservancy boundaries, undertake vegetation surveys and restoration planning, recruit and train forest rangers, and create and maintain firebreaks. As the region is characterized by a high reliance on self-subsistence farming and few employment possibilities, the project will also develop income-generating activities and increase the number of full-time jobs, such as for rangers and beekeepers.
...and with the neighbours
There are several large protected areas close that, if connected again, would allow the migration of threatened wildlife species and enable them to recolonize and thrive. The private owners of Mutinondo Wilderness, immediately adjacent to Chintumukulu Conservancy, are interested in a long-term partnership to support training and joint law enforcement exercises. The Kasanka Trust is working with African Parks in creating a buffer on the southeastern side of Lavushi Manda National Park – the Mpumba Community Forest Area – and has committed to support for the next five years in that zone. African Parks is planning to take over management of Lavushi Manda from the government, and are also interested in co-developing a carbon scheme to benefit local communities.