Great Limpopo benefits spill over borders

22 December 2015

Communities in the Zimbabwe component of Great Limpopo ©Joep Stevens
Communities in the Zimbabwe component of Great Limpopo ©Joep Stevens
After 13 years, initially focusing on the establishment of the core area, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area is ready to extend the benefits to its neighbours.
“Great Limpopo is ready to mature certain aspects that have always been important, but the resources with which to address them were not yet available,” says the TFCA's coordinator, Piet Theron. Working directly with stakeholders, sharing benefits and catalysing socio-economic development in the areas around the various national parks and the TFCA's proclaimed areas, have always been an objective of the treaty signed in 2002 to create Great Limpopo. Now stakeholders are setting their sights on the buffer zones outside their fences. According to Theron, the increase in wildlife crime and poaching is a constant reminder that working with their neighbours, and not against them, is vital.
Irrigation projects in the Limpopo National Park buffer zone
Irrigation projects in the Limpopo National Park buffer zone
In November 2015, a series of workshops were held to thrash out details of how communities living on the borders of the protected areas could benefit from conservation.

“We have seen that when communities benefit from conservation projects, they support it,” says Theron. The goal is now to develop projects that are also of value to local communities. These may entail tourism and conservation, but also a range of other sectors like agriculture, livestock, business development and so forth.
Children living in Limpopo National Park
Children living in Limpopo National Park
“If we want communities on the outskirts of the parks and living within the TFCA to join us in protecting these biodiverse areas, then we need make sure not only that communities benefit but that, even at a household level, these benefits can translate into viable livelihood options and increased wellbeing.”

The challenge that stakeholders face is to identify, develop and strengthen both existing and potential livelihood initiatives and activities which support, rather than compromise, the Great Limpopo vision to “protect and preserve our natural resources for the common good of all”. According to Theron, “if we are not able to make these alternatives attractive enough, then we cannot be surprised if there is little interest – especially when there are other more lucrative, if also more dangerous options, on offer.”
The development of an integrated livelihoods diversification strategy for Great Limpopo brings together stakeholders from across the three countries (Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe), and includes government officials, park management and, significantly, local authorities, NGOs and community representatives. “We will be discussing which sectors to focus on and existing models that could be supported, replicated and shared, as well as where the priority areas for investment should be, geographically-speaking.”

The first workshop in a series of three were held in Maputo from 3 - 4 November, followed by a second in Harare from 19 - 20 November.

Want to know more or become involved? Contact Piet Theron or Lisa van Dongen

Objectives of the 2002 Great Limpopo Treaty

  • Foster transnational collaboration and cooperation among the parties, which will facilitate effective ecosystem management in the area comprising the transfrontier park;
  • Promote alliances in the management of biological natural resources by encouraging social, economic and other partnerships among the parties, including the private sector, local communities and non-governmental organisations;
  • Enhance ecosystem integrity and natural ecological processes by harmonising environmental management procedures across international boundaries and striving to remove artificial barriers impeding the natural movement of wildlife;
  • Facilitate the establishment and maintenance of a sustainable sub-regional economic base through appropriate development frameworks, strategies and work plans;
  • Develop trans-border ecotourism as a means of fostering regional socio-economic development; and
  • Establish mechanisms to facilitate the exchange of technical, scientific and legal information for the joint management of the ecosystem.
Story by Piet Theron
International Coordinator
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