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Gonarezhou Conservation Trust: Sharing responsibilities in conservation

Frankfurt Zoological Society and the Zimbabwean Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate have launched the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust. The innovative approach to jointly manage Gonarezhou National Park aims to achieve financial sustainability and to enhance partnerships with the local communities in addition to protecting Zimbabwe’s natural heritage.

The Acting FZS Africa Director Karen Laurenson (left) and the Honourable Minister Oppah Muchinguri at the launch event for the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust. (Photo: Patrick Eickemeier)
The Acting FZS Africa Director Karen Laurenson (left) and the Honourable Minister Oppah Muchinguri at the launch event for the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust. Photo: Patrick Eickemeier/FZS

Gonarezhou, 16 September 2016 Today, the Honourable Zimbabwean Minister of Environment, Water and Climate and Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) have officially launched the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust. The new terms of the partnership of the Zimbabwean government and FZS form the basis of an innovative approach to managing Gonarezhou National Park.

“The Gonarezhou Conservation Trust will not only generate the much needed revenue amid ever rising challenges that include poaching activities, but will also bring in sustainability and consistence in the general conservation of Zimbabwe’s wildlife,” said Minister Oppah Muchinguri speaking to the more than 250 guests of the event at Chipinda Pools in Gonarezhou National Park.

“For conservation in Gonarezhou, park security, community involvement and financing, the formation of the trust is a major milestone,” said Karen Laurenson, the FZS Acting Africa Director who is co-chairing the Board of Trustees of the Trust with Tichafa Mundangepfupfu, the Board Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks).

Since 2007, FZS has supported conservation and development of Gonarezhou National Park in close collaboration with ZimParks. “The trust puts this partnership on a new footing. It may well serve as a model for management of other protected areas in Africa,” said Laurenson.

“Enhancing security in the park is vital,” said Mundangepfupfu who represented ZimParks at the event. “Through increasing manpower and providing training and oversight the trust will help us to effectively counter poaching and to establish a safe area for wildlife and eventually the reintroduction of black rhinos,” Mundangepfupfu said.

The trust also aims to create benefits and opportunities for the local communities around the park, for instance through tourism development, job creation and educational programmes.

 

In the long-term, the trust aims for financial sustainability. The costs of the management of the park are to be covered completely by the revenue it generates, for instance through tourism.

Starting with today’s launch, the Park is administered by the Board of Trustees, with equal representation from FZS and ZimParks. A Management Committee will be implementing the Park plan and reporting directly to the Board.

 

For more information, please see our background document ‘Gonarezhou Conservation Trust Background (270 Kb/PDF)’.

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