Securing the Kasanka landscape in partnership with the World Land Trust
The Kasanka Trust Ltd. (KTL) is in a race against time to secure the ecosystem integrity of the Kasanka landscape for wildlife and local communities. Faced with the threat of rapidly expanding and unregulated commercial agriculture in the Kafinda Game Management Area (GMA) that surrounds the park (April newsletter on agricultural threats), KTL has teamed up with the World Land Trust (WLT) to secure as much land as possible for conservation and sustainable use by local communities before it is too late.
Founded in 1989, the World Land Trust was among the first organisations in the world to use land purchase as a means of securing threatened habitats. WLT has a unique and highly effective model in which they develop long-term partnerships with local organisations who generally own and manage the land. KTL counts itself among 35 partners across 22 countries that have helped save over 350,000 hectares of biodiverse and previously unprotected land since 1989.
With the support of WLT, KTL is aiming to secure 65,000 hectares of intact miombo woodlands, floodplains and grasslands within the Kafinda GMA by the end of 2021. Purchasing the land is out of the question due to the legal hurdles and high costs associated with such large areas. To overcome this, KTL is utilising the Forests Act, 2015 and associated legislation to establish Community Forest Management Areas (CFMAs).
This approach is unarguably more efficient than KTL purchasing the land as it empowers local communities by legally demarcating and securing their customary land and giving them the user rights and management responsibility for the forest resources on the land. KTL is aiming to complete the establishment of the first three CFMAs covering some 21,150 ha by August 2020. In addition to securing the land from large scale agricultural development, these three CFMAs, which border the national park, will play a crucial role as a buffer area between the park and local communities.
Establishing the community forests and legally securing the land for conservation is only half the battle. WLT supports ongoing management of the CFMAs by KTL and local communities through their Keepers of the Wild Programme. Community Scouts are employed to conduct regular patrols of the areas in search of illegal activities including bushmeat poaching, timber harvesting and charcoal production. All this work contributes significantly to the viability of the greater ecosystem and its ability to support such spectacular wildlife phenomena as the seasonal mega-colony of 10 million straw-coloured fruit bats in Kasanka.
For KTL, the value of long-term partnerships with funding organisations such as the WLT is massive. WLT has enabled us to develop a long-term vision to secure the Kasanka landscape and to aggressively pursue our conservation targets.
World Land Trust (WLT) is an international conservation charity that protects the world’s most biologically significant and threatened habitats acre by acre.