Strategy to improve lives beyond park boundaries takes shape

Sharing benefits of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park with those that live around it has been an important objective since its inception, and a strategy of how to attain this is taking shape.

After a series of meetings in November to thrash out details of how communities living on the borders of the protected areas can benefit from conservation, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) Joint Management Board has commissioned the development of an integrated livelihoods diversification strategy focused on areas adjacent to the core area, in other words the broader Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA).

Already, there has been considerable investment of time and resources into rural development initiatives in communities surrounding the protected area. Management of the parks in question, namely the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, the Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, are themselves asking similar questions through planning processes that focus on buffer or integrated land use areas. In particular, efforts focus on how these protected areas can support socio-economic development in the areas that surround the parks. In general, these initiatives support government plans with overlapping mandates.

However, like much of the billion dollar aid and development industry, livelihoods development and support initiatives continue to face considerable challenges in achieving sustained and sustainable socio-economic development to the benefit of vulnerable rural households.

As such, the GLTP JMB’s strategy development initiative recognises the value of these existing efforts and does not seek to replace them or duplicate efforts. The GLTP JMB acknowledges that it cannot be the engine that drives future livelihood initiatives. Instead, it is best positioned to:

  1. Play the role of a convener or facilitator by bringing together a diversity of institutions, people, views and experiences thereby promoting the integrated regional development of a shared vision and understanding of opportunities and ideas;
  2. Play a coordinating function by encouraging information sharing and a coordination of efforts; and
  3. Play a support function, actively empowering actors in their efforts.

According to Piet Theron, GLTFCA International Coordinator, “It is our belief that a strategy document will help achieve these goals and should leave all actors in the space better equipped to achieve successes with their future livelihood investments. The success of implementation of the strategy will depend on how well we all work together to achieve the goals we set ourselves. If we agree on what the important focus areas are, then we can become the masters of our own destiny who set the priorities and then find the resources to match.  For this to happen we all need to work together to turn the strategy into action. But first, we need to agree on what our vision and strategy is.”

Observations: • Baseline scenario - the dark red line - level of service delivery normalised to equal 1. this is to investigate the changes from the baseline pending the next 4 scenarios • Scenario 1 - Climate change with business as usual (blue line) - supply of ecosystem services declines substantially, with an average decline in services by 23%, with water supply possibly declining by up to 43%. Note that climate change pervades all additional scenarios. • Scenario 2 - Smart village (settlement) and conservation agriculture with climate change - supply contracts by only 12% on average, about half of the 'do nothing' scenario above, with plant crops increasing by 135%. Here food security is addressed, but most services still fall short of current (baseline) supply levels. • Scenario 3 - Natural areas management with climate change - supply grows by an average of 8% and is able to counteract the reduction due to climate change. This action is required to at least increase supply levels at a little better than where they are today. • Scenario 4 - combines scenarios 2 and 3, and increases services levels marginally, but importantly increase plant crops by some 142%.

Observations:
• Baseline scenario – the dark red line – level of service delivery normalised to equal 1. this is to investigate the changes from the baseline pending the next 4 scenarios
• Scenario 1 – Climate change with business as usual (blue line) – supply of ecosystem services declines substantially, with an average decline in services by 23%, with water supply possibly
declining by up to 43%. Note that climate change pervades all additional scenarios.
• Scenario 2 – Smart village (settlement) and conservation agriculture with climate change – supply contracts by only 12% on average, about half of the ‘do nothing’ scenario above, with plant
crops increasing by 135%. Here food security is addressed, but most services still fall short of current (baseline) supply levels.
• Scenario 3 – Natural areas management with climate change – supply grows by an average of 8% and is able to counteract the reduction due to climate change. This action is required to at
least increase supply levels at a little better than where they are today.
• Scenario 4 – combines scenarios 2 and 3, and increases services levels marginally, but importantly increase plant crops by some 142%.

Observations: • Five ecosystem services are at significant risk. These are services with low or modest supply level, and with high demand. These five are: o Water supply o Plant crops o Fire damage control o Water recreation o Wild (plant) foods • Water supply and food crops have similar risk levels at present. However, in a climate change scenario, the water supply risk increases three times, to a much higher level than food. These two risks pose a very serious threat to livelihoods in the region. • Fire damage control, water based-recreation and wild foods (plant foods) are also at risk. Water based recreation may seem trivial, but with if water quality is compromised, then contact with water, often local children using rivers for recreation, is a serious health threat. Elevated fire risk is a serious threat to livelihoods, in that it will impact on the production of many ecosystem goods which households harvest to consumption and trade. • All service supplies increase in risk in a climate change scenario, as livelihoods depend extensively on natural systems production. However, water services supply, crops and fire damage control risk more than double. This implies water security, food security and livelihood activities possibly impacted by fires, are all seriously threatened in a climate change scenario. • Smart villages and conservation agriculture can only make a modest reduction in risk levels compared to a ‘do nothing’ scenario, except in the case of crops, where a significant reduction is risk, to below current risk levels, is possible. • Natural areas management, as an intervention on its own, is able to reduce risk levels to a generally lower level than in the smart village scenario, with the exception of crop production, which is more effectively reduced through focussed conservation agriculture. The implication is that natural areas management programme may be able to deliver greater benefits and greater risk reduction than a smart village programme, except in the case of food where only conservation agriculture can reduce risks. However, it should be noted that food security is a function of not only crops but also bushmeat, wild plant foods, fish and other wild protein sources (including insects, birds, etc). • In terms of risk ranking, food crops are at most risk and only conservation agriculture is likely to make a significant impact in reducing this risk. On the other hand, natural areas management is likely to deliver greater benefits to society than a smart village, as both on-site and offsite/downstream people benefit from the intervention. Perhaps a simple way to put it – a community in a smart village in this context would not be able survive independently of the natural resources of the surrounding woodlands, but a community in the woodland could survive without a smart village. A smart village would be make efficient use of its inputs – and those inputs are generated by woodlands. In the context of climate change, efficient use of constrained inputs is critical to maintain benefit levels. Recommendations: For those services at risk, where demand exceeds supply, there are two key actions to engage: o Land cover associated with serious risks should be restored to increase supply – such crop lands for food, rivers for water supply, and wetlands, woodlands and grasslands for water quality and water supply regulation. o Demand management is necessary to reduce in-efficient demands – and this would include the development of smart villages to reduce demand for water, energy and building materials. Effective food storage could also reduce demand by preventing wastage.Observations:
• Five ecosystem services are at significant risk. These are services with low or modest supply level, and with high demand. These five are:
o Water supply
o Plant crops
o Fire damage control
o Water recreation
o Wild (plant) foods
• Water supply and food crops have similar risk levels at present. However, in a climate change scenario, the water supply risk increases three times, to a much higher level
than food. These two risks pose a very serious threat to livelihoods in the region.
• Fire damage control, water based-recreation and wild foods (plant foods) are also at risk. Water based recreation may seem trivial, but with if water quality is compromised,
then contact with water, often local children using rivers for recreation, is a serious health threat. Elevated fire risk is a serious threat to livelihoods, in that it will impact on
the production of many ecosystem goods which households harvest to consumption and trade.
• All service supplies increase in risk in a climate change scenario, as livelihoods depend extensively on natural systems production. However, water services supply, crops
and fire damage control risk more than double. This implies water security, food security and livelihood activities possibly impacted by fires, are all seriously threatened in
a climate change scenario.
• Smart villages and conservation agriculture can only make a modest reduction in risk levels compared to a ‘do nothing’ scenario, except in the case of crops, where a
significant reduction is risk, to below current risk levels, is possible.
• Natural areas management, as an intervention on its own, is able to reduce risk levels to a generally lower level than in the smart village scenario, with the exception of
crop production, which is more effectively reduced through focussed conservation agriculture. The implication is that natural areas management programme may be able
to deliver greater benefits and greater risk reduction than a smart village programme, except in the case of food where only conservation agriculture can reduce risks.
However, it should be noted that food security is a function of not only crops but also bushmeat, wild plant foods, fish and other wild protein sources (including insects,
birds, etc).
• In terms of risk ranking, food crops are at most risk and only conservation agriculture is likely to make a significant impact in reducing this risk. On the other hand, natural
areas management is likely to deliver greater benefits to society than a smart village, as both on-site and offsite/downstream people benefit from the intervention. Perhaps
a simple way to put it – a community in a smart village in this context would not be able survive independently of the natural resources of the surrounding woodlands, but
a community in the woodland could survive without a smart village. A smart village would be make efficient use of its inputs – and those inputs are generated by woodlands.
In the context of climate change, efficient use of constrained inputs is critical to maintain benefit levels.
Recommendations:
For those services at risk, where demand exceeds supply, there are two key actions to engage:
o Land cover associated with serious risks should be restored to increase supply – such crop lands for food, rivers for water supply, and wetlands, woodlands and
grasslands for water quality and water supply regulation.
o Demand management is necessary to reduce in-efficient demands – and this would include the development of smart villages to reduce demand for water, energy
and building materials. Effective food storage could also reduce demand by preventing wastage.

Elements of the GLTFCA integrated livelihoods diversification strategy will be discussed further at a third workshop on 16 and 17 February 2016 at the Mopani Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park. This workshop will also focus on the Pafuri node and explore an approach to prioritise resources and opportunities.

If you are interested to know more or become involved in the process, please be in touch with Piet Theron at piettheron01@gmail.com or Lisa van Dongen at lisa@conversations4change.co.za.

Objectives of the integrated livelihoods diversification strategy

Identify a set of strategic nodes for priority attention in round one of the strategy implementation (Pafuri is one of the nodes and others will be identified during a February workshop);
Identify and investigate workable and appropriate livelihood models that could be applied to the area, including identification of where existing initiatives are working and can be scaled and shared to a wider audience; and
Ensure that the impact of climate change has been considered when identifying livelihood interventions for resilience.

Milestones achieved

  1. A scoping exercise was undertaken to define the scope of the project and understand the context, what is already in place and where the opportunities and constraints may be looking forward. The result of this study is available at: https://maps.ppf.org.za/arcgis/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=60bfa14207ce4843a264402944c328cb.
  2. In November, two workshops were undertaken in Maputo and Harare respectively. The first explored the key drivers of change that should be designed in the future. The second conducted an ecosystems goods and services analysis of the next 15 years in the Pafuri area. This resulted in a projection of how climate change could change the future and what management options would be most significant in helping curb these impacts. The outcome of the Harare workshop highlighted harrowing projections around how climate change will heighten the risks around water and food security in particular. An exercise looking at various management interventions also delivered the very sobering conclusion that, even with enormous efforts and resources in place, the material improvement of the current situation for most people, in particular around water supply, is not possible. There are, however, opportunities to (i) prevent or minimise the losses to climate change and (ii) strengthen and build on opportunities that already exist for subsistence activities and formal income generation.

Three strategic pillars for consideration in the strategy

  1. Promotion of ‘climate smart’ villages, focused on food, water and energy security;
  2. Natural areas management, including wildlife production and associated tourism development as well as livestock and rangeland management; and
  3. Human capital interventions which empower people with choices and reduce land dependence.