The project establishes a reserve of 39,000 hectares of valuable Miombo forest, creating a vital buffer for a trans-frontier wilderness area of global significance that is home to 23,000 elephants. It also provides valuable habitat for other threatened species such as lions, leopards and sable and roan antelopes.
Deforestation rates in the project zone are about 11 times higher than Zambia’s national deforestation rate, partly due to its proximity to the capital Lusaka with its large demand for charcoal. Income levels in the project zone are extremely low (poverty levels are estimated at 90 per cent). To earn a living, local communities depend on charcoal production and inefficient farming practices, both of which put significant pressure on shrinking forest resources.
Strong community benefits ensure a long-term commitment to protecting forests and wildlife. Benefits are created by a broad range of activities, including improved agriculture, healthcare and schooling, setting up small businesses (such as poultry and honey production), and improving access to drinking water.