Ecology Programmes Upper Zambezi River

With support of DOB Ecology WWF Zambia and WWF The Netherlands are able to start up an ambitious freshwater – species landscape programme focussing on the Upper Zambezi.

Within the Upper Zambezi, the focus will be on three distinctly different areas: the forested headwaters far upstream (Kabompo); the typical savanna area bordering Angola (Liuwa Plain National Park and surrounding Upper West Zambezi Game Management Area) and the vast wetlands these areas drain into (Barotse Floodplains). The Upper Zambezi functions as a sponge, which holds huge amounts of water for months or even years, meaning flood peaks are delayed by nearly two months and makes it possible for people and the economy to survive dry spells. It therefore plays a disproportionately important role in the health of the river, the livelihoods of people along its banks and the resilience of socio-economic development further downstream all the way to Lusaka.

The area is known for its’ vast wilderness with high biodiversity and huge herds of wildlife roaming the plains, such as wildebeest, buffalo, big cats, and wattled cranes. Seasonal migration is essential for the survival of these important species. Connectivity and land use planning should guarantee continuation of these migration. Wildlife tourism and sustainable use of this wildlife can benefit the communities, but only if these species are able to roam free and are not threatened by poaching.


The goal in ten years’ time for the targeted landscapes is that they are well managed, threats are mitigated and the nature and ecosystems remain fairly pristine and climate-resilient providing services to residents. The programme is centred around the idea that we need to make people in Zambia and beyond aware of the local and global significance of the Upper Zambezi. Climate resilience of community livelihoods will be enhanced by the project as sustainable livelihood practices will be embraced and residents and the community will be supported by the revival of good traditions which support the conservation and wise use of natural resources.


Partnerships are absolutely key to making lasting changes on the ground and take central stage in this programme. The Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) will be a key partner. They are the key community mover for any meaningful change in attitude, traditional ownership and practices by the local population. Working with the BRE on traditional practices will not go far if the plans made are not adopted and supported by the relevant formal government authorities, such as the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, the Forestry and the Fisheries Departments and the Water Resources Management Authority. Strong partnerships with conservation organisations such as Peace Park Foundation (PPF), African Parks (AP) and the Zambian Carnivore Program are also part of the execution of this programme which will be led by WWF Zambia.



Key features

Landscape  Kabompo forest catchment
  Liuwa Plain National Park
  Barotse Floodplains
  Covering 550.000 square kilometers
Goals for next 3 years  Identify wildlife corridors
  Hydrological analysis
  Launch ‘Community Resources Boards’
  Start wildlife re-introduction programme
  Recognition of Barotse Floodplains as ‘World Cultural Heritage Landscape’
  Strategy in place on human-wildlife conflicts