Safeguarding nearly 1,000,000 hectares of protected forest is no easy feat. It requires resources, strategy, and collaboration. In partnership with the Forestry Department and Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), BCP conducts monthly aerial monitoring of forests to monitor for any unauthorized activity. If a plane finds there is any illegal charcoal, logging, or wildlife crime they turn to the boots on the ground – Community Scouts. Community Scoutsare an important tool for our Community Resource Board (CRB) partners to protect their community forests and the wildlife in them.
Today, with our Government and community partners, we are excited to share a bit of hope with a story of community job creation as we announce the expansion of the Community Scout team assigned to REDD+ projects BCP implements in Zambia. Currently, the partnership between CRBs, Government and BCP sponsors 57 Community Scouts recruited directly from REDD+ Partner Chiefdoms.
The 4th intake of Community Scouts (aptly named ‘Delta’ to follow the alphabet) were selected in early 2020 and when it is safe to start basic training, will attend 3 months of training at a DNPW training facility. After basic training, these community scouts will begin to patrol community forests under the supervision of DNPW. Delta targets 40 community scouts, bringing the number of community scouts supported under REDD+ in Zambia to just under 100. Competition for Delta was stiff: 717 community members applied, 76 applicants (53 men and 23 women) were selected for training and only 40 will graduate. This high attrition rate means that only the most committed community members join the team to protect their community forests.
A key part of REDD+ is creating value for communities to create incentives to conserve. Job creation is one such incentive. When Delta graduate, the number of partner Chiefdom community members on REDD+ project payroll will be around 75% of total staff on payroll. This shows the extraordinary ability of forest conservation to create local jobs in a tough year when jobs are being lost in many places.
BCP is grateful for the investment by The Darwin Initiative, The Lion Recovery Fund and National Geographic who have graciously funded part of the costs to select, train, equip and remunerate scouts.
As Mpanshya CRB Chairman, Mr. Crispin Chikopa adds:
“Watching each year’s recruits learn, grow and mature into skilled managers of Zambia’s wildlife and community forests certainly gives us a sense of fulfilment as we realise a shared passion for making the conservation of wildlife habitat valuable to our communities.”