In a ceremony on 28 September 2018, Permanent Secretary, Eastern Province, Chanda Kasolo, announced the launch of the Luangwa Community Forests Project’s Conservation Fees program with a K 185,008(USD $15,550) contribution to Sandwe Chiefdom. Generously contributed by USAID through the Community Forests Program, these funds will be co-managed by the Community to fund livelihood and conservation activities that benefit the entire community.
Conservation Fees are performance-based payments, where income from wildlife habitat protection is reinvested into local communities to improve livelihoods and social services. Communities receive the income in return for protecting the boundaries of agreed community forests and wildlife, as well as good governance of funds.
All community members have an opportunity to participate in decisions about the use of Conservation Fees. Village Action Groups are empowered to propose a list of potential projects to invest in which is reviewed by the Community Resources Board. BCP and DNPW support the community to implement and audit the projects.
Communities in other Chiefdoms have previously used Conservation Fees to improve school facilities, drill water boreholes, and invest in livelihood enterprises such as maize mill machines. Sandwe Chiefdom beneficiaries will decide how to invest their funds over the coming months.
Secretary Kasolo commented at the event, “I hope this project will empower local communities in the management of their forests, as well as empower the collaborating partners at the District level, such as the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and the Forestry Department, to better manage our natural resources…It is important to note that Conservation Fees belong to ALL members of the community, and as the government, we expect to see the Sandwe REDD+ Zone intact and community impacts from these funds within the next year.”
Special thanks to PS Kasolofor providing the opening address and to the many community members whose attendance made the Conservation Fees launch such a special event.