The Times of Zambia 25 September, 2004 Zambia and Malawi have signed a historic agreement that will see the creation of a new trans-frontier conservation area (TFCA) covering a total of 33,000 square kilometres.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed at Chilinda, on Malawi's remote Nyika Plateau by Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources Minister Patrick Kalifungwa and Malawian minister of Information and Tourism, Ken Lipenga.
According to a statement released in Lusaka yesterday by Mr Kalifungwa, the agreement was reached after a series of bilateral meetings facilitated by Peace Parks Foundation (PPF).
Mr Kalifungwa said the proposed TFCA would consolidate Zambia's Nyika national park, Lundazi forestry reserve and Lukusuzi national park and Malawi's Nyika national park, Vwaza Marsh wildlife reserve and Kasungu national park.
TFCAs are areas comprising two or more conservation areas that border each other across international boundaries.
Some TFCAs already created in Southern Africa are the Great Limpompo trans-frontier park between Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, the Kgalagadi trans-frontier park between Botswana and South Africa, and the Ai/Ais/ Richtersveld trans-frontier park between Namibia and South Africa.
The Zambia/Malawi TFCA covers a large diversity of habitats and eco-systems ranging through Afromontane forests and high altitude grasslands on the Nyika plateau to marsh and wetlands, Miombo brachystegia and acacia woodlands and classical African Bushveld.
It was expected that the final treaty establishing the Zambia/Malawi peace park would be signed in December next year by heads of state of the two countries.
The two governments would approach international donor organisations to support the TFCA.
And Dr Lipenga said TFCAs had potential to promote ecological, cultural and political processes.
"Eco-systems divided by political boundaries can be reunited, cultural ties severed by borders can be re-integrated, agreements on collaborative management can contribute to political ties between states, " he said.
Dr Lipenga noted that the occasion marked a significant step towards activating the SADC protocol on wildlife conservation and law enforcement to which the two countries were signatories.
He said the Zambia/Malawi FTCA would help improve joint tourism opportunities, skills transfer and promotion of goodwill between the two countries.
And PPF chief executive officer, Professor Willem van Riet said the signing of the MoU signified the beginning of a complete new era in conservation in Zambia and Malawi. Zambia/ Malawi TFCA coordinator Humphrey Nzima cited the potential in terms of institutional support, natural attractions and existing infrastructure to conservation.