2017 was the year of ‘world firsts’ for Zambia as two of its highly praised National Parks claimed prestigious titles regarding sustainability.
The unique status of "Sustainable Wildlife Park" was bestowed upon South Luangwa NP in November by Dr. Taleb Rifai - the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation UNWTO.
Zambia’s President Edward Lungu announced the award at the UNWTO International Conference on Sustainable Tourism in Lusaka stating that the momentous declaration will ensure that the national park remains a natural wildlife sanctuary, managed in a sustainable manner for generations to come.
South Luangwa National Park already has numerous examples of socially responsible development, but the announcement means more support to the sector and the park itself.
One of these developments is Project Luangwa, a charity set up by Robin Pope Safaris, Kafunta Safaris, Flat Dogs, Shentons Safaris and Croc Valley Camp. Project Luangwa enables the building of schools, sponsorship of children, running of girls clubs, teaching women skills that earn them a living and much more. In the last 7 years since Project Luangwa was set up, Flatdogs alone has generated around $400,000 of funding for these projects that give a significant benefit to the communities. Kafunta Safaris are adding to their initial support generously this year as an extra $20 per night will be donated to the fund for guests staying 5 nights or more between April 1st and May 15th.
Many camps and lodges support Conservation South Luangwa, (CSL) through the Luangwa Conservation and Community Fund including Kafunta Safaris. Flatdogs donate funds that pay the Community Resource Boards to employ forest guards to monitor behaviour in the fragile environments they work in to protect the habitats they rely on. Derek Shenton from Shentons Safaris has been on the board of CSL since inception 20 years ago and have worked with them and privately funded patrols since inception as well as raising funds through their conservation levy and client donations.
President Lungu also highlighted that tourism in Zambia is a critical tool for sustainable development “This is why tourism has been designated among the top three economic sectors to drive the national economic diversification programme. We will be increasing investment in the tourism industry”.
Down in Lower Zambezi NP, thanks to the BioCarbon and the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project 2017, the park became the world’s first national park to achieve a carbon neutral status -for the second year in a row!
BioCarbon’s project REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is a project that helps farming communities in Zambia improve their livelihoods, protect disappearing forests and create a sanctuary for globally threatened wildlife. Every camp within the national park is part of the project – including lodges on the outskirts.
Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro Bush Camp purchased carbon credits from the Lower Zambezi REDD+ project, using internationally accepted values for fossil fuel use, to offset the carbon emissions both properties produce. Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro also offer guests the opportunity to offset their own carbon emissions from their associated air travel via the website Stand For Trees where they can select the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project here.
By offsetting 1,200 tonnes of carbon emissions, Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro are protecting an estimated 403 hectares of Zambian forest (approximately 3,228 trees), and removing enough CO2 from the atmosphere to be equivalent to taking 215 cars off the road for a year. “Tourism can have a positive impact on the world’s natural environment. We’re committed to providing an amazing Zambia for future generations to enjoy.” – Grant Cummings, Chiawa and Old Mondoro.
Other camps and lodges involved in achieving carbon neutrality include Anabezi and Amanzi Camps, Baines River Camp and Royal Zambezi Lodge.
Tourism is the world’s largest service sector industry, with significant energy, fuel and food production needs, the success of this project makes it a shining light for Africa’s sustainable tourism.