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WWF Appeals to Government to Reconsider the Social, Economic and Environmental Consequences of Lower Zambezi Court Ruling.
The Lower Zambezi National Park is one of four national parks that generate up to 96% of Zambia’s non-consumptive wildlife tourism revenues. Although the mine is expected to cover about 980 km2, which is about 25% of the park, it is estimated that more than 50% of the national park will be lost (the entire northern part of the park).
This means that the primary reasons for which the park was initially established will be lost forever. The Lower Zambezi National Park was established in 1983 to:
1. Conserve biodiversity, including iconic and rare wildlife, forest, and fresh water species, that also ensure ecosystem function;
2. Protect the Rufunsa, Chakwenga and Chongwe River watersheds;
3. Conserve ecosystem services that also serve as a buffer to climate change impacts; and,
4. Provide for scientific knowledge advancement, public education, and tourism development.
WWF Zambia is therefore gravely concerned about the far-reaching economic, social, and environmental consequences that an open cast mine will have on the Lower Zambezi ecosystem. This action by the High Court negates Zambia’s progress as a country on SDG Goal 15- “to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land
degradation and halt biodiversity loss”. Proceeding with the proposed course of action in Lower Zambezi will rob current and future generations of Zambians of their rich natural resource heritage.
WWF Zambia therefore cautions that awarding this mining license in an ecologically sensitive national park such as Lower Zambezi may set a dangerous precedent for large-scale investments in high biodiversity areas. National parks contribute to sustenance of Zambia’s ecological processes, provision of ecosystem services, tourism economy, and cultural values, and there is risk they will increasingly be targeted for conflicting uses that erode the unique values that make them key natural capital assets; thereby disregarding the natural inheritance of the Zambian people.
WWF Zambia is NOT in support of this High Court judgement and observes that the appeal dismissal is based on a technicality, rather than a hearing of the substantive case. WWF Zambia is committed to engage in dialogue and processes that explore lawful and legitimate avenues to withdraw the Kangaluwi mining license. In this regard, WWF Zambia lauds civil society efforts to ensure this matter is heard before the Supreme Court; including presentation of key risks associated with the proposed mine.
Further, WWF Zambia would like to appeal to the Government of the Republic of Zambia that immediate action is required to safeguard Lower Zambezi National Park, a key natural asset. WWF Zambia therefore urges government to cancel the mining license and halt any attempts by the developer to move onsite in Lower Zambezi National Park; and government should also constitute a task force that will revisit key findings of the independent evaluation report on Kangaluwi.