Momentum for Transfrontier Conservation (TFCA) in Southern Africa
The four-day gathering brought together over 100 participants from Government, NGOs, Local communities, the Private Sector, Academia, and Development partners.
It provided extensive opportunities for collaboration and sharing best practices, tools, and innovative solutions for sustainably managing TFCA landscapes spanning over 950 million hectares 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 Government of Mozambique hosted this milestone event, including a field visit to Maputo National Park, part of the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area connecting Mozambique, Eswatini, and South Africa, and the first and only marine TFCA on the continent.
Delegates experienced first-hand the park’s dramatic transformation into a beacon of wildlife rehabilitation and protection having overcome the scars of a 16-year civil war that had resulted in the depletion of biodiversity. Park officials also highlighted Maputo National Park’s vast potential for generating sustainable financing and socio-economic benefits for local communities through the continued growth of nature-based tourism.
Setting the stage for the dialogue, Ndapanda Kanime, Senior Programme Officer-Natural Resources, and Wildlife from the SADC Secretariat, presented the newly approved 2023-2033 TFCA Programme to establish clear goals and strategic direction for the next decade.
With an affirmed vision in place, participants could focus discussions on practical implementation, forging collaborative partnerships, and overcoming pressing challenges across the TFCA landscapes.
Dedicated workstreams discussed issues such as climate change adaptation, harmonizing land-use and ocean 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.
“The diversity of players at the table helped us unpack complex topics from multiple perspectives and identify collective solutions,” explained Collins. “We realize these challenges can’t be solved in isolation.”
A major session explored sustainable financing approaches like carbon markets, debt-for-nature swaps, and conservation trust funds that can reduce TFCAs’ dependence on external donor funding. “It was encouraging to see Member States really value TFCAs and proactively investigate smart, diversified financing models,” said Collins.
The meeting was supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through its technical cooperation (GIZ) and financial cooperation (KfW), USAID Southern Africa, IUCN, and MozBio.
Key international partners like the EU and IUCN updated participants on major additional TFCA support programs unfolding across the region. This includes the German government-funded TFCA Financing Facility whose second call for grants just closed.
The SADC Secretariat reported steady progress in approving key strategies and guidelines to formally establish and elevate TFCAs from early conceptual stages to fully operationalized.
During a reviewing process of the SADC TFCA Programme, Member States amended the TFCA listing criteria which resulted in a reduction of officially recognized TFCA from 18 to 12 with another two to three likely to become recognized in 2024.
Each of the 12 formally recognized SADC TFCAs provided updates on key achievements, activities, and progress between October 2022 and October 2023. For example, the Iona-Skeleton Coast Transfrontier Park advanced marketing efforts including its marine component, while the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) TFCA conducted its first cross-border elephant survey, with an estimated elephant population of 227,900 across the Partner States of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park coordinated patrols, maintained its fence, and approved standard operating procedures for managing carnivores and flights within the park. These updates highlighted diverse conservation, development and community engagement accomplishments across the TFCAs over the past year.
The SADC Secretariat, Boundless Southern Africa, and the GIZ Climate-Resilient and Natural Resource Management (C-NRM) project provided updates on the implementation of the SADC Tourism Programme 2020-2030. Key activities include progress on the SADC “Univisa” project to facilitate regional travel, border efficiency assessments, and a benchmark study of successful air access policies, practices, and infrastructure.
Marketing efforts by Boundless Southern Africa encompassed travel trade shows, press trips, social media campaigns, and itinerary development to showcase TFCAs.
The program, as was highlighted during the event, aims to strengthen regional integration, develop the tourism economy, upgrade border posts, build capacity, and promote TFCAs as world-class ecotourism destinations.