PRESS RELEASE: Nyamaluma, Mambwe, Zambia, 27 July 2019
This week at Nyamaluma a conservation milestone was achieved as 10 chiefdoms in Lusaka and Eastern Provinces welcomed the conservation support and expertise of 32 newly graduated Community Scouts.
The event marks the end of a 14-week intensive training course for the Scouts, conducted under the supervision of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) at the Nyamaluma Training School. The graduating Community Scouts have achieved TEVETA certification and GRZ endorsement as front-line enforcers of Zambia’s wildlife and forest protection laws and regulations.
The newly-created Community Scout opportunities are the result of a Community Scout Sponsorship Scheme developed by Zambian conservation organisation BCP (BioCarbon Partners).
As Zambia faces unprecedented levels of deforestation and wildlife loss, Community Scouts play an important function in securing Zambia’s precious biodiversity and tourism sector. BCP is one of Africa’s leading forest carbon offset developers, who implements community-level forest and wildlife protection activities in collaboration with DNPW, the Forestry Department and Chiefdom-level leadership and governing bodies.
The newly created Community Scout roles aim to strengthen natural resource protection activities in Zambia’s Game Management Areas (GMAs), which provide vital connectivity between five National Parks throughout the Luangwa-Zambezi ecosystem. The 32 new graduates have been selected from ten Chiefdoms within the ecosystem and going forward will be employed by Community Resource Boards (CRBs) through the BCP Scout Sponsorship Scheme.
Guest of Honour, Mambwe District Commissioner, Caroline Mwanza, addressed the new graduates and event attendees during proceedings.
“This is a Public-Private-Community model, increasing the capacity of our communities and CRBs in the protection and management of our natural heritage resources… While this is a clear demonstration of the community’s commitment to the protection of the resources in this area, it requires all of us to work together not just to enjoy the benefits, but to take responsibility to control illegal activities which damage our environment” Mwanza said.
BCP representative, Alastair Anton, spoke during proceedings of the need for collaboration to achieve Zambia’s conservation goals.
“Forest and wildlife habitat protection in Game Management Areas can only be effective by engaging local communities and traditional leaders, and by forming a strong partnership with Government. Community Scouts and Community Honorary Forest Officers are key to the success of our conservation partnerships” Anton said.
“This is a difficult task which requires professionally-trained and -equipped teams with the mandate to enforce both local, customary and statutory laws and regulations.” Anton said.
The strength of collaborative commitment to conservation in Zambia was demonstrated by the many dignitaries in attendance at the event, representing communities, branches of government and NGO partners who have collaborated to reach this conservation milestone. The graduating scouts were honoured by the representative of His Royal Highness Senior Chief Nsefu and by the presence of His Royal Highness Chief Malama.
The 32 successful graduates are the highest-achieving of 517 candidates who applied for the opportunities. To be selected, the Scouts have undergone intense training and testing to prepare for their harsh and often dangerous job ahead.
The exceptional level of training delivered to the Community Scouts by DNPW Trainers is further enhanced by international support from the Lion Recovery Fund, the Elephant Crisis Fund and the Mills Foundation, whose funding has ensured these 32 Scouts are among the best equipped in the country.
Now certified, the Community Scouts will be deployed across 10 Chiefdoms to conduct long mobile patrols that deter and prevent threats to forest and wildlife. They will also provide a much-needed rapid reaction capability, quickly responding to wildlife crime and encroachment breaches identified by aerial and mobile patrols as well as local informants.
It is hoped that the combined efforts of BCP, government and community partners will immediately have a positive impact on the reduction of wildlife crime and deforestation with the Luangwa-Zambezi ecosystem. BCP is already in discussions to further increase Community Scout resources within the ecosystem and hopes to be part of a brighter greener future for Zambia.