The Lower Zambezi National Park is due to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as a result of the Zambian Government’s agreement not to allow mining there.
However, Zambia has since allowed an environmental impact statement to be tendered by the Austrailian company, Zambezi Resources, for a massive open-pit mining operation, suggesting a change of mind on the part of the Patriotic Front Government.
Should mining go ahead, one of the last great areas of primary nature in Zambia – including as it does the Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe and the Mid-Zambezi Biosphere Reserve, would be severely damaged.
In mid-October 2011, UNESCO issued Decision:35 COM 7B.8: The World Heritage Committee:
Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B. And, Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.7, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010), Welcomes the decision of the State Party of Zambia not to approve the proposed mining operations in Chiawa Game Management Area and Lower Zambezi National Park nor the original proposal for a tourist and conference facility in the Chiawa Game Management Area across the river from the property, which could have impacted the property’s Outstanding Universal Value; Notes that mining exploration is on-going in other parts of the Lower Zambezi Catchment, and considers that mining exploration and exploitation in the catchment could adversely affect the property if not strictly regulated; Encourages the State Party of Zambia to consider nominating the adjacent Lower Zambezi National Park in order to eventually constitute a joint trans-boundary inscription on the World Heritage List, in line with the World Heritage Committee’s recommendation at the time of inscription; Requests the State Party of Zambia to: Ensure that any redesigned tourist and conference facility in the Chiawa Game Management Area across the river from the property be subject to a new Environmental Impact Assessment which should include an assessment of the impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, in accordance with Article 6 of the Convention; Submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, a report on progress in implementing the mission recommendations concerning mineral exploration and mining and tourism development and on the status of the mining activities and tourism developments which could affect the property.
In addition to the Park being under consideration as a World Heritage Site, it is a category II protected area – as are all national parks, managed mainly for ecosystem protection and recreation, defined by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas as a ’Natural area of land and/or sea, designated to (a) protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for present and future generations, (b) exclude exploitation or occupation inimical to the purposes of designation of the area and (c) provide a foundation for spiritual,scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities, all of which must be environmentally and culturally compatible.’ Any mining or large scale hotel development is therefore exploitation and occupation inimical to the purposes of designation of the area. This is recognised in the proposed amendment to the Wildlife Act of 1998, which would prohibit mining in the LZ National Park and in the adjoining Chiawa Community Partnership Park.
On 18 October 2008, Chieftainess Chiawa (Chiawa/Kafue) Chiefs Chipepo, Simamba, Sinadambwe – all of Siavonga district, and Chiefs Mupuka and Mbunema of Luangwa met and issued an historic statement against mining for 17 chiefdoms of the whole Zambezi system. The Zambia Wildlife Authority is already on record as saying no mining would be allowed in national parks ( on 5 November 2008 the DG of ZAWA, Lewis Saiwana, wrote to Andy Fleming of Zambezi Resources stating that “National Parks and Game Management Areas should not be subjected to mining activities…”) .
In addition the Government, under its own PF Manifesto, avows the Christian stewardship of nature, they are therefore solemnly bound to protect the integrity of the national parks of Zambia, powers which the Minister responsible has within his remit.
To sign a petition against this planned mining activity, go to : http://www.change.org/petitions/zambia-environmental-management-agency-prohibit-mining-in-the-lower-zambezi-national-park