Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Zambia: Biodiversity is Under Threat, Says Mulele

The Post (Lusaka)

August 21, 2006
Posted to the web August 21, 2006

Carol Jilombo

BIODIVERSITY in Zambia is under threat from habitat destruction and Invasive Alien Species (IAS), Ministry of Tourism Permanent Secretary Russell Mulele has said.

During the launch of the UNEP/GEF IAS project on removing barriers to invasive plant management in Africa in Lusaka, Mulele said it was common knowledge that invasive alien species had continued to pose threats to biodiversity, the environment and associated economic activities in Zambia.

Invasive Alien Species (IAS) are species that are foreign to the eco-system under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm.

The species can also cause harm to human health.

"Current levels and trends of encroachment by invasive species are worrying and the situation has resulted in calls for drastic and concerted efforts before the situation deteriorates," Mulele said. He said Zambia had not been spared from the invasion of plant invasive species that caused social, economic and biological problems in the national economy.

"For example, in 1998 we declared the Kafue weed (Water hyacinth) as a national disaster," Mulele said.

He said efforts put in place to manage the threats posed by the invasive plants had not yielded the desired results because the problem still persisted and the rate at which it was spreading was a source of worry to the nation.

"Despite control efforts by various stakeholders, the weeds have spread and continued to grow profusely in most rivers and Wetlands, thus highlighting the need to intensify monitoring, mitigation and management measures," he said.

Mulele said the aim of the project was to reduce or remove barriers to the management of invasive plant species through effective implementation of Article 8(h) of the Convention on Biological Diversity in the four pilot projects of Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda and Zambia. Article 8(h) states that parties are required to put in place conservation measures and as far as possible and as appropriate to prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate alien species, which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species.

Mulele said the project would address issues that had hindered effective management of invasive alien species in Zambia.

"These are a weak and fragmented policy and institutional framework, lack of information, slow implementation of invasive alien species prevention and control plus lack of capacity for sustainable invasive alien species management," he said.

Mulele said the barriers were translated into four project components, the successful implementation of which would save the nation millions of kwacha in controlling the invasive species.'

The Global Environmental Facility (GEP) through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) funds the project while the government will meet the co-financing part.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Chinese and Chipata Chipper

The Chinese want hardwood for export and sleepers for a new railway line between Chipata and Malawi.They want 3000 trees in Nsefu, 3000 in Kakumbi and 21,000 in Nsefu. It's all illegal. The Chairlady of the MMD in Chipata, Mrs Mbewe is the middle person in Jumbe. She has got the local people to get the licences and cut the trees, though she is paying for them which is illegal as they are supposed to be for local use only. 150 have been cut already and most if not all ferried out on lorries.

The Forestry Officer in Mambwe (Musiwa) is in on it, as is Chief Jumbe. All further licences have been suspended while an investigation goes ahead. ZAWA are dead against it. Cutters have now been forced to apply for a pit saw licence (min 40, max 60 trees a month!). This will give everyone (Forestry, ZAWA, Environmental Council of Zambia and other stakeholders) chance to have their say and it will then be refused or curtailed.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


On 10 January, 2006, the Natural Resources Consultative Forum (NRCF) resolved that no elephant sport hunting (ESH) should be conducted in Zambia in 2006. The minutes were widely circulated; no replies were received in support – or answers to my queries, from elephant conservationists, CITES or the US Fish & Wildlife Service, though the Biodiversity Convention Secretariat replied that they had no real powers over signatories
An advisory note - and the minutes of the NRCF ESH meeting, were sent by the NRCF to the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources (MTENR), followed by a meeting between the NRCF Chairman and the Minister. No reply to the advisory note was received from the Minister.

On 11 April 2006 at the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) offices, an auction took place for 10 of the 20 elephant for sport hunting (the other 10 being taken up by the concessionaries where they had been made available)
Subsequent efforts to hold meetings of the full cross-sectoral NRCF to discuss policy and legislative issues affecting natural resources and environment have not been successful since January. Matters requiring attention include: the proposed Livingstone lion park and breeding project which has been approved by ZAWA anf for which no EIA was called for; regulations on Game Management Areas (GMAs), game ranching and captive breeding and national parks; tourism leases, wildlife harvesting quotas and the rationalization of hunting concessions, the impact of wildlife on customary and statutory landowners, the implementation of the National Policy on the Environment, feedback on joint forest management, national park public private partnerships, community natural resource management empowerment; UNDP/GEF programme on protected areas – and the state of the pilot projects in Bangweulu and Lower Zambezi; the World Bank SEED programme; the Bangweulu Ramsar site, its management and need for greater protection...

A case is currently before the High Court regarding the sale of part of the West Mvuvye National Forest No. 54 by Chieftainess Mwape to a businessman. A 99 year renewable lease was issued, signed only by the Commissioner of Lands – although, for areas in excess of 250 ha, it is required that the Minister of Lands signs. The plaintiff is the brother of Chieftainess Mwape and Senior Chief Luembe. The Forestry Department appear disinclined to act. There are other similar cases where national forest has been alienated.

The proposed sale of land greater than 250 ha by Chief Nyalugwe to a businessman was refused by the Nyimba District Council and by the Lands Minister

Senior Chief Luembe, removed as chief by the community and local government, has been re-instated – although he has yet to receive the return of his official stamp. He had been removed partly due to the dissatisfaction of the Community and the CRB for selling off a large area of land to a Petauke businessman behind the backs of the Luembe Trust – a trust of which I am co-director. This sale was not approved.

The Zambian Government - through the Ministry of Lands, is reviewing the draft land Policy. The World Bank is assisting them in finalising the review process. Recently the World Bank consulted a number of stakeholders on land policy related issues and have drafted an action plan for finalising the Land Policy, this draft action plan was presented to some 12 or so participants on Wednesday 12th April 2006. I attended part of the meeting. The draft plan – to be handed in to the Ministry on 13 April, had concluded that in future all land in Zambia fall under the control of the Ministry, with chiefs acting as ‘land administrators’ – a report which clearly had concluded that customary usufruct and tenure, and the chiefs, were obstructing Zambia’s progress. On my objecting to their obviously limited consultations and on the revolution they were suggesting, the consultants said they had been constrained by the list of people and organizations supplied by the Ministry of Lands, and had therefore not consulted the NRCF, the Royal House of Chiefs, Local Communities, the private sector and civil society. The WB representative at the meeting said that they would have to now introduce this essential further step in the process. The Land Alliance needs to monitor this.

From 19 – 21 April, the Environmental Investigation Agency (UK) held an International Ivory Enforcement Training Workshop in Lusaka funded by DFID. Rolf Shenton, Dave Cummings and I, plus the Nyalugwe CRB Secretary and a Luembe community member Mbeza Safaris is funding at NIPA taking the course on legal prosecutions. A presentation on the Singapore ivory seizure was made (2002) in which the details of the shipment of 6.5 tons of ivory – suspected to come mostly from the Luangwa valley in Zambia, sent from Lilongwe, via Durban, to Singapore, was made. DNA investigations of the ivory and soil isotope analysis so far reveals that the elephant come from two savanah populations. These now need to be matched with samples from Luangwa and elsewhere. While presenting his part in the investigation, Samuel Ngosi of the Malawian Anti-Corruption Bureau revealed – possibly for the first time, that his investigations had uncovered the fact that a total of 19 shipments had been made by the same people, using the same methods and carriers, between 1994 and 2002 – a total of 123.5 tons of ivory being shipped, much of it small worked pieces. No arrests or prosecutions have as yet been made. Some of this ivory might be hippo ivory (see TRAFFIC reports on the swing to hippo ivory), given that a recent survey I made of over 300 hippo in the lower Luangwa could find only one alpha male. In addition, in the nearby Lukushashi and Lunsemfwa rivers, most of the hippo have been poached.

Elephant continue to be poached in the Zambezi valley – one last week; and a village scout in Nyalugwe’s country in the south Luangwa, who had poached an elephant last year, is still on the run.

The recent elections held for the Luembe Community Resource Board have been nullified as a result of a boycott of the election by the residents of the Luembe section of the West Petauke Game Management Area, who – as the designated local community partners in the hunting lease agreement, felt that they should hold a majority Board representation. A new election has been held, the same chairmen re-elected, as well as a representative of all the Village Area Groups (VAGs).

Meetings have been held with the Disaster Management Unit (DMU) in the office of the Vice-President to determine why food relief has not been forthcoming for some communities in the West Petauke GMA hard hit by animal damage and flooding of villages and cropland. The investigation revealed that money had been issued to agents (ARDRA) in January, but that they had not yet delivered. Promises were made that the army would deliver food soon. In addition, promises made to communities by the DMU and ZAWA in March of 2005 (to empower specified community members and professional hunters to undertake crop protection) have not been forthcoming

Some professional hunters are currently assisting the Director of Conservation in ZAWA, Dr Lewis Saiwana, in the training of crop and human protection guards, with guidelines provided by Barry Shenton, former senior warden and veteran of the elephant control group in the Department of National Parks & Wildlife, a group established in the 1930s. In addition, the legendary control guard and hunter, Rice Time, will be called on to offer his sage advice.

In The Post newspaper of Friday 21 April, a letter marked SECRET was printed which had been copied to the Secretary General of the Patriotic Front Party by the Zambia President’s Principal Private Secretary, and which had been addressed to myself and three other people, stating that the President was in receipt of information that we were working against his MMD Party, and that – amongst other things, we had agreed to create artificial food shortages in Zambia by buying-up and destroying maize. The Post editorial of 22 April strongly condemned State House for the letter. The President was out of the country at the time. Three of the named people are safari operators. The allegations made are patently false. On 27 April, one of the accused was visited by security police. He was told that we had all been cleared and that an apology would be forthcoming. However, the rather sorry saga is further evidence of some rather sinister forces at work within the Zambian wildlife and tourism industry.



Joan Chirwa and Florence Bupe

TOUR Operators Association of Zambia (TOAZ) has advised the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources to concentrate on sustainable management of natural resources and not its business component. Association chairperson, Rolf Shenton said in countries where money was hard to find, natural resource management was always treated as a trivial concern compared to making money. Shenton said appropriate management of natural resources was being hindered by double responsibilities that the Ministry of Tourism and Environment was given. He said the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) and the Department of Tourism were always in conflict, regarding issues of natural resource management and reserving money for tourism. Shenton noted that problems of wildlife conservation by ZAWA were as a result of limited funding to the authority, which ended up granting hunting licenses to individuals once it ran out of finances.

"In principle, I would like to see the whole ministry of tourism rationalised so that it deals with natural resource management and that the business issues from tourism are dealt with by the Ministry of Commerce as in any other business sector," Shenton said. ""The Natural Resources Consultative Forum is the ideal place to deal with cross-sectoral issues. Whilst we mix business and conservation we will always compromise sustainable use of resources. We will continue eating chicken instead of feeding it and sharing the eggs. Very Soon we will all be standing around in poverty with no natural resources to manage. The same argument applies with ZAWA which must become a small, muscular regulatory body that we can trust to control exploitation of wildlife resources in a sustainable manner, not one that leads the harvest because they need more money."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Customary land and signs of light!

At the Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP) Stakeholder's meeting in Lusaka, chiefs' representative, James Matale, said that chiefs should be allowed to retain absolute title to their land, while giving investors and non-subjects renewable lease rights under various chiefdom trusts, and that " the land leased for commercial use should attract royalites and fees which will form part of the income and resources for financing adminstration and development projects in their areas." This is the first public statement revealing that the chiefs have studied the Landsafe Trust Investment Model for customary and protected areas, which I had given to the House of Chiefs a year ago, and that they see it as a way forward for attracting investment, but without alienating the land.

However, what chiefs have to remember is that - with the exception of Barotse, it is the headmen - chaired by the chief, who are the custodians of land - all land ownership being vested in the President. Total authority over land cannot be exercised by chiefs alone as they will continue alienating it against the wishes of their headmen and subjects. And non-subjects (Zambians) should not have to make lease payments for land used in the traditional subsistence sense.

The Natural Resources Ship of Zambia

THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) recently stated that after the dissolution of the National Assembly the Vice-President, Cabinet ministers, provincial deputy ministers and deputy ministers should - in accordance with Article 45(2), 46(2) and 47(3) of the Constitution of Zambia, cease to perform their respective functions. Given that the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) Board is currently dissolved, and that the Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources (MTENR) is responsible for appointing its members, a new ZAWA Board may not be appointed until after the election on 28 September 2006. Thus ZAWA is left without a Board to control its actions, and without a Minister to give regulations and statutory instruments effect.