The Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) has been selected among the six environmentally critical landscapes across the globe set to share over £100m from the British government to tackle biodiversity loss and combat climate change.
The financial resources will come the UK government’s Biodiverse Landscapes Fund and will be invested in some of the most fragile ecosystems on earth, International Environment Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said last week.
Other landscapes set to benefit are Mesoamerica, covering areas of Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras; Congo Basin, covering areas of Cameroon, Gabon and Republic of Congo; Andes Amazon, covering Ecuador and Peru; Lower Mekong, covering Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam; and Madagascar.
The landscapes selected are each home to rare and endangered species: elephants and rhinos in KAZA, mountain gorillas in the Western Congo Basin, tigers in the Lower Mekong and jaguars in Mesoamerica.
“These species are supported by diverse ecosystems and habitats, including rainforests, wetlands, temperate forests and mangroves,” the British government said.
“By driving action to protect these landscapes and habitats, the Fund will protect the wildlife that calls them home, through conserving protected areas, improving connectivity between habitats for key species and combatting the illegal wildlife trade.”
It said the announcement forms part of the government’s ambitious commitments ahead of COP26 and builds on successes achieved at the UK chaired G7, which saw G7 leaders commit to protect and conserve 30% of the world’s land and ocean by 2030. The global ‘30by30’ target is now supported by over 100 countries worldwide.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the global population of animals is plummeting faster than at any time in human history and precious habitats and species are being wiped off the planet and action was required urgently.
“We are at a tipping point, and we must act now – right now – to turn the tide of this environmental crisis before it is too late,” Johnson said.
“Our Biodiverse Landscapes Fund will invest in six of the most environmentally critical landscapes, spanning 18 countries across the globe, to help to combat climate change and protect rare and endangered species.”
Goldsmith said the UK government is leading the way in tackling biodiversity loss and combatting climate change, and will “be encouraging other countries to follow suit by coming forward with funding for nature”.
“Through nature-based solutions, the fund will help reduce poverty and create sustainable economic development for communities living in, and dependent upon, these environmentally precious landscapes,” Goldsmith said.
Over seven years the funding will be invested in local projects that support the protection and restoration of landscapes through nature-based solutions, which will tackle climate change while providing sustainable livelihoods for local communities.’
The projects, expected to start by the end of summer 2022, will be led locally and collaboratively within local communities, supported internationally by environmental organisations, academics and private sector organisations.
KAZA’s vision is to establish a world-class transfrontier conservation and tourism destination area in the Okavango and Zambezi River Basin regions of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe within the context of sustainable development.