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Zambia: Challenging illegal deforestation and encroachment of the Kasanka National Park and the Kafinda Game Management Area

On 19 October 2021, the Mapepala and Nabowa Community Forest Management Groups (CFMG), together with Kasanka Trust Limited, commenced an action in the Lusaka High Court challenging large-commercial agriculture and related activities within the protected Kafinda Game Management Area (KGMA) and the Mapepala and Nabowa Community Forest (MNCF). The said activities include:

  • The destruction of the forests (including the indiscriminate cutting down of trees);
  • The restriction of the community from accessing water from the Loumbwa River;
  • The abstraction of water from the Loumbwa River exceeding amounts stated in the water permit granted
  • The clearing of vegetation;
  • The cultivation of land;
  • The erecting of wire fences and enclosing parts of the MNCF;
  • Further construction works and any other development activities in and around the National Park and the KGMA.

The Mapepala and Nabowa communities’ ancestors occupied the land later gazetted as the Kasanka National Park. Upon establishing the Kasanka National Park, they were required to shift from the National Park into the KGMA. Thus, they depended on the Luombwa river and the forest resources within the KGMA for their livelihood and extra income for their children’s educational needs.

These activities have resulted in massive environmental degradation with a long-term adverse effect on the area’s ecosystem and, significantly, on the livelihoods of the indigenous Mapepala and Nabowa communities whose ancestors occupied the land that was later gazetted as the Kasanka National Park and who depend on the Loumbwa River and other natural resources within the Kasanka National Park for survival.

In the High Court

On 25 January 2022, the High Court of Zambia granted an interim injunction retraining Lake Agro Industries and Gulf Adventure Limited from further deforestation and development activities within the Kafinda Game Management Area. The Court correctly stated that an injunction in these circumstances would protect the environment from any further damage, which cannot be atoned for by damages.

In the Court of Appeal

On 1 February 2022, Lake Agro Industries and Gulf Adventures Limited appealed against the entire ruling of the High Court.