Identification of Surface Water Resource Protection Areas (WRPAs) for Zambia: Aquatic Ecological Importance (AEI) Assessment
The FRC undertook an assessment of Zambias areas of Aquatic Ecological Importance as part of Water Resource Protection Areas (WRPAs) assessment led by WWF-Zambia. Whereas Zambia’s network of national parks offers a degree of protection for freshwater diversity, the protection status of numerous systems requires further action. The biodiversity associated with such freshwater systems, both lotic and lentic, is unique, covering a gradient from tropical to sub-tropical conditions in two major rivers systems – Zambezi and Congo basins; it is also under-sampled. Recent legislation allows for the delineation of (WRPAs) for Zambia, with one of the criteria being that it constitutes an area of Aquatic Ecological Importance. The FRC, in partnership with WWF and McGill University, Montreal, used a systemic conservation planning approach to objectively identify AEIs. Our final near-optimal solution highlighted critical clusters in each of the major freshwater ecoregions in Zambia, with all conservation targets being met. We conclude that while the existing protected area network also coincides with identified AEIs, approximately 80% of all AEIs fall outside of formally protected areas. The outcomes of this process serve as one of three data inputs (water production areas, and catchments identified as being vulnerable to anthropogenic impacts) that will be integrated into defining and protecting WRPAs. The WRPAs will be used by the Zambian Water Resources Management Authority to guide development planning in the country.
- Rivers-Moore NA and Paxton BR. 2019. Identification of Surface Water Resource Protection Areas (WRPAs) for Zambia: Aquatic Ecological Importance (AEI) Assessment.