The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched the refurbishment of the Mukamba Gate Complex at the Lower Zambezi National Park to help protect the country’s forests and wildlife.

And US Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote says if Zambia’s forests and wildlife were lost, then the country could lose a critical driver of economic growth for its local communities.

In a statement issued by the US Embassy in Lusaka, activities such as wildlife tourism and beekeeping were only possible through conservation.

“The US government, in partnership with the Zambian government’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife, officially launched the refurbished Mukamba Gate Complex at the northern entrance to Lower Zambezi National Park. The complex benefited from support of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Community Forests Program. The launch event also included the graduation of 22 Community Scouts, who in collaboration with the local Community Resource Boards, will serve as frontline advocates for forest and wildlife conservation. And US Ambassador to Zambia Mr Daniel Foote notes that ‘If we lose Zambia’s forests and wildlife, we lose a critical driver of economic growth for our local communities. Activities such as wildlife tourism and beekeeping are only possible through conservation’,” the statement read.

The USAID Community Forests Program, implemented by BioCarbon Partners Ltd is a five-year, $14 million programme aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions through the protection of Zambia’s extensive forests.

“To date, the programme has put over one million hectares of forest under sustainable management. Zambia’s forests play an important role in mitigating climate change by locking up carbon dioxide drawn from the ambient air. That locked carbon can then be sold as a ‘carbon credit’ or ‘carbon offset’ to companies and governments from countries around the world to help offset the carbon dioxide they emit through manufacturing, transportation, and electricity generation. The revenue from the sale of these offsets returns to the communities that protect the forests,” read the statement.

“Carbon offsets, therefore, provide a means for communities to play a role in the global economy by mitigating the effects of climate change while reducing their own poverty, and improving their lives.To help protect our forests and wildlife, USAID’s Community Forests Program invested in the refurbishment of the Mukamba Gate Complex. As a result, the complex now includes an improved security checkpoint, an office building, and Wildlife Police Officer housing. This important entry point into Lower Zambezi National Park is now better-equipped to support both park management and forest protection.”