Greater Limpopo benefits spill over borders

After 13 years, initially focussing on the establishment of the core area, the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA) is ready to extend the benefits to its neighbours.

“The GLTFCA is ready to mature certain aspects that have always been important but, the resources to address it with were not yet available,” says GLTFCA coordinator, Piet Theron. Working directly with stakeholders, sharing benefits and catalysing socio-economic development in the areas around the various national parks and GLTP proclaimed areas has always been an intention of the 2002 Treaty to create the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), and 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 integral.

A series of workshops are being held this November to thrash out details of how communities living on the borders of the protected areas can 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 can entail tourism and conservation but also a range of other sectors like agriculture, livestock, business development and so forth.

“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 GLTP 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 low uptake – especially when there are other more lucrative, if also more dangerous options on offer.”

The development of an integrated livelihoods diversification strategy for the GLTFCA 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 which can be supported, replicated and shared as well as where the priority areas for investment should be geographically.”

The first workshop in a series of three will be held in Maputo on 3 and 4 November followed by a second in Harare on 19 and 20 November.  Outcomes will be reported on in future newsletters.

Want to know more or become involved? Contact Piet Theron at piettheron01@gmail.com or Lisa van Dongen at lisa@conversations4change.co.za.

Objectives of the 2002 GLTFCA Treaty

  • Foster trans-national collaboration and co-operation 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 eco-tourism 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.