Zambian Caucus Visits African Parks-Managed Liuwa Plain National Park

June 26, 2018
Zambian Caucus Visits African Parks-Managed Liuwa Plain National Park

Members of the Zambian Parliamentary Conservation Caucus (ZPCC) recently paid visit to Liuwa Plain National Park to gain a better understanding of a successful model for public-private park management.

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In 2004, African Parks pioneered a new approach to conservation in Zambia, entering into a 20-year partnership with the government to take over management of Liuwa Plain National Park.

Members of the Zambian Parliamentary Conservation Caucus (ZPCC) recently paid visit to Liuwa Plain National Park to gain a better understanding of African Parks' successful model for public-private park management.

During their visit, ZPCC members saw first-hand how innovative public-private partnerships can further good conservation governance and foster local enterprise development. Under the African Parks public-private partnership model, wildlife policy and national parks regulations are separated from day-to-day management of the park. Authority for the former remains with the Zambian government, and authority for the latter falls to African Parks, who is ultimately accountable to the government for the success or failure of the park. In order for the partnership to be successful, the African Parks model looks first to secure protected areas against rampant illegal extraction and destruction of natural resources. Once secure, park managers work to rehabilitate wildlife sufficiently to position the protected area as an economically competitive land-use option, one through which economic potential can be optimized for the benefit of local communities, such as through tourism or hunting.

Nearly 15 years into this partnership, Liuwa Plain has been a conservation success. In January, the New York Times named the park one of its 52 Places to Go in 2018. Eland, buffalo and lion have been reintroduced to the park at viable populations. Wildebeest and Zebra populations have nearly doubled. The first permanent lodge opened in the park in March 2017 - a $1.6 million investment by African Parks - to be managed and marketed by Norman Carr Safaris. Tourism revenues and park employment are on the rise, and direct contributions of over $650,000 have been made to community development funds, plus $30,000 put into community programs.

Following this visit, members of the Zambian Parliamentary Conservation Caucus noted the benefits of the public-private management model for local communities. They return to Lusaka with a better sense of the opportunities available for Zambia to work together with the private sector in its national parks toward the country’s conservation and development goals.

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