KAZA is a unique conservation, tourism and sustainable development partnership of the Governments of the Republics of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The definition of a Transfrontier Conservation Area in the SADC Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement is “an area or component of large ecological region that straddles boundaries of two or more countries, encompassing one or more protected areas as well as multiple resource use areas.” TFCAs involving contiguous National Parks only are generally referred to as Transfrontier Parks.
The KAZA TFCA spans an area of 519, 912km², and includes no fewer than 36 formally proclaimed national parks, game reserves, forest reserves and game/wildlife management areas.
KAZA is driven and led by the governments of the Partner Countries and their respective stakeholders. Non Governmental Organizations and donors play a facilitative and supportive role.
As with other TFCA initiatives, KAZA’s benefits are expected to be ecological, cultural, political, socio-economic and institutional.
The goal of the KAZA TFCA is to sustainably manage its ecosystems and cultural components to ensure long term viability and diversity of its natural and cultural resources, while generating socio-economic benefits to improve and secure the livelihoods of communities within the ecoregion, by harmonising policies, strategies and practices of the five partner countries, building capacity and creating an enabling economic environment to promote investment.
The main enabling conditions for the establishment of KAZA are transparency, trust, political commitment, mutual respect and equality of the partner countries as well as the social acceptance of KAZA by the various stakeholders. Another important factor is the ability of partner countries to place emphasis on broader regional interests and programmes rather than just national pursuits.
Some of the main challenges include; the vast geographical extent of KAZA; a large and growing human population and its ensuing demand on the land resource; a mosaic of land uses within the TFCA – pastoral and agricultural; rapid land transformation; weak infrastructure in remote areas; diversity of stakeholders with different interests and objectives; a myriad of implementation activities at the national and regional levels; and disparities in the capacities and capabilities of the partner countries.
The measures for success include; having a secure core conservation estate with corridors for wildlife movements; noticeable stakeholder awareness of KAZA; implementation plans for the development of KAZA in place, costs quantified and sources of funding including funds generated by the partner countries themselves; appropriate protocols and plans in place; and most importantly a signed Treaty establishing the KAZA TFCA.
The interest of the international community towards KAZA has been phenomenal given its biological attributes, huge size and multi faceted objectives addressing environmental, economic and social issues.
The level of cooperation between the five partner countries has been tremendous with all partner countries attending periodic meetings to reflect on the progress being made to establish KAZA and roll out the TFCA development programme.