Environmental

Land Use Plan

For the Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia

Advance Africa were appointed to develop a Land Use Plan for the Liuwa Plain National Park and its immediate surrounding regions to assist with conservation planning and socio-economic development activities that are aligned with its conservation goals.

Liuwa Plain National Park (LPNP) is situated in Western Zambia on the floodplains of the Upper Zambezi and plays a vital role in its catchment. The Park covers an area of 3,660 km2 of seasonally inundated grasslands and wooded islands, and is largely under water from January to April each year due to flooding in the Upper Zambezi Basin during the rainy season.

This flooding constitutes the unique biological processes that maintain Liuwa’s distinct ecological features and human settlement patterns. Furthermore, the Park is characterised by a human population on the border, and inside, the Park with a predominantly subsistence livelihood based on Park resources.

The development of the Land Use Plan (LUP) took place in sequential phases over a period of 18 months (June 2017 – December 2018), and included various forms of stakeholder engagement and participation, information and data collection, mapping and strategic intervention planning. 

Liuwa Plain National Park

Data collection activities involved community engagement meetings in order to develop a spatial database on natural resource utilisation that involves stakeholders, in particular local communities that utilise and rely on the natural resources of LPNP and its surrounding areas.  2 066 people in 478 villages (41 village clusters) were engaged with and consulted as part of the process. 

Objectives of the Land Use Plan:

  1. To establish an overall management and development vision for land use in the area
  2.  To be used as a guideline for development objectives and possibilities related to key areas such as conservation, natural                                   environment, cultural heritage, agriculture, tourism, transportation, infrastructure, resource use, and reduction in human-wildlife             conflict, etc.
  3. To improve the quality and standard of living of the local population in and around the LPNP, by guiding the use of resources in a              direction that is sustainable
  4. To provide a guide for the decision-makers of LPNP to plan and implement sustainable developments in the area

The approach to achieve this is to develop a Land Use Plan that takes into account environmental seasonality, cultural aspects, wildlife movements, analysis of population dynamics, agricultural seasonality, accessibility and resource utilisation, and to realistically document these into a land use plan that can be incorporated into strategic as well as day-to-day management activities.

Land use planning in a protected area context refers to what can and cannot occur in different areas of the protected areas in terms of natural resources management, cultural resources management, human use and benefit, visitor use and experience, accessibility, facilities and protected area development, maintenance and operations.  Zoning is important to reduce conflict between different users of the protected areas, to improve the quality of activities such as tourism, and to facilitate compliance.

The broader Liuwa landscape is characterised by an interwoven physical and biological, socio-economic and complex regulatory environment.

The collaborative process ensured that the major land-use issues and concerns affecting LPNP were identified, and that all legitimate concerns were adequately addressed.

Although key stakeholders operate at a range of scales, they intersect directly or indirectly at the landscape level and thus it is important to include all spheres and levels of stakeholders in land use planning

Key and relevant stakeholder engagement was carried out throughout the process targeting public sector (local, provincial and national level government departments), the monarch of the Barotse Kingdom, local communities, private sector and NGO’s operating within LPNP.

The strategic land use issues that have been identified and comprehensively assessed include:

1. Habitat and corridor protection
2. Fire management
3. Human-wildlife conflicts
4. Population growth
5. Social service development
6. Agricultural encroachment
7. Unsustainable utilisation of resources, particularly               associated with fisheries, woodland (timber) products       and palm fronds
8. Unmanaged cattle grazing and associated impacts
9. Regional infrastructure developments

The LUP is designed to harmonise and reconcile the different land use forms in the Park.  It identifies geographical areas within which similar land use forms shall be practised. Importantly, the plan provides for development objectives and possibilities related to key areas such as conservation, natural environment, socio-economic development, cultural heritage, agriculture, tourism, transportation, infrastructure and resource use.