Zambian Caucus Members Assess New Wetlands Policy

December 03, 2018
Zambian Caucus Members Assess New Wetlands Policy

In order to examine and discuss Zambia’s recently launched Wetlands Policy, The ICCF Group and the Zambian Parliamentary Conservation Caucus (ZPCC) organized a collaborative workshop on December 3rd in Lusaka, bringing together members of the ZPCC as well as relevant public- and private-sector stakeholders.

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Implementation of the Wetlands Policy, which was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in June 2018, requires an enabling legal framework and strong stakeholder collaboration.

Representing the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Hope Mambwe Banda provided details of the Wetlands Policy. Designed to conserve wetland resources and protect wetland ecosystems, the Wetlands Policy aims to do so in a way that will ensure their integrity, productivity, and sustainability. Specifically, the policy promotes research, inventorying, and monitoring of wetland resources to inform effective management decisions, promotes stakeholder participation in effective management of wetlands, and aims to ensure equitable sharing of benefits.

Prior to Cabinet approval in June, Ms. Banda stated, no national policy had existed specifically targeting wetlands, despite the fact that wetlands account for nearly 20 percent of Zambia’s total land area.

Eighty percent of Zambia’s wetlands are currently protected, according to Griffin Shanungu and Mwape Sichilongo of the International Crane Foundation, including over four million hectares named Wetlands of International Importance. Speaking at the December 3rd workshop, Mr. Shanungu emphasized the importance of Zambia’s wetland ecosystems from a development perspective. These areas, he says, are still subject to risk and loss of biodiversity through invasive plants, fire, and human activity, and they remain particularly vulnerable due to an abundance of fish, fuel, and water.

The Kafue flats are one such area, which Shanungu calls “probably the most important wetland in Zambia.” In Kafue, which ZPCC members visited in June, the park lacks a management framework to address the various demands on the flats, including poverty-driven pressures on the land. Effectively managing the park to generate tourism revenues can be a key to supporting local livelihoods and sustaining these important ecosystems long-term.

The ZPCC, as a voice for conservation in parliament, aims to bring priority natural resource management issues to the forefront of the national agenda. By organizing dialogue around the new Wetlands Policy, the ZPCC continues to promote the role of wetlands as an important resource for conservation and development in Zambia.

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