SADC TFCAs Network Celebrates 23 Years of Transfrontier Conservation in Southern Africa
The SADC Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) Network held its Annual Meeting last week in Maputo, Mozambique, to review the achievements and challenges of transfrontier conservation in Southern Africa over the past 23 years. The meeting was attended by over 100 stakeholders from various sectors, including government, NGOs, local communities, private sector, academia and development partners.
The meeting aimed to foster collaboration and exchange of best practices, tools and innovative solutions for managing the TFCA landscapes that cover over 950 million hectares across the region. The participants also discussed the newly approved 2023-2033 TFCA Programme, which sets clear goals and strategic direction for the next decade.
The host country, Mozambique, showcased its successful rehabilitation and protection of Maputo National Park, part of the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area that connects Mozambique, Eswatini and South Africa. The park, which was severely affected by a 16-year civil war, has now become a wildlife sanctuary and a potential source of sustainable financing and socio-economic benefits for local communities through nature-based tourism.
The meeting also addressed some of the pressing challenges facing the TFCAs, such as climate change adaptation, harmonising land-use and oceans management, improving rural community livelihoods through wildlife conservation, mitigating escalating human-wildlife conflicts across the region, and building human capital through training, research and knowledge exchange.
One of the key topics was sustainable financing for the TFCAs, which currently rely heavily on external donor funding. The participants explored various approaches, such as carbon markets, debt-for-nature swaps and conservation trust funds, that can reduce the dependence on external sources and increase the financial autonomy and resilience of the TFCAs.
The meeting was supported by several international partners, such as the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), USAID Southern Africa, IUCN and MozBio, who also updated the participants on major TFCA support programmes unfolding across the region.
Steve Collins, SADC TFCA Network Coordinator, said: “It was incredibly encouraging to see the enthusiasm and passion for TFCAs amongst all the participants from so many different countries and sectors. Though we each play varied roles, our shared dedication to advancing transfrontier conservation unifies us.”
The SADC TFCA Network is a platform for coordination, collaboration and communication among the 12 formally recognised TFCAs in the region. The network was established in 2000, following the signing of the SADC Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement in 1999, which paved the way for the development of TFCAs in Southern Africa. TFCAs are large-scale conservation areas that span across national boundaries and aim to promote biodiversity conservation, socio-economic development and regional integration.