Essential to Peace Parks’ work restoring a tomorrow for life on Earth, are the communities that live in and adjacent to conservation areas. This amounts to millions of people, most of whom rely on these natural spaces to provide food, energy and livelihoods.

Their participation is essential for the success of conservation initiatives. Peace Parks and partners work closely with these communities to promote economic growth and development based on creating employment opportunities and the sustainable use of natural resources. This includes the provision and implementation of alternative livelihoods, viable and sustainable community-based agriculture for food security, alternative energy sources, conservation and tourism-related projects, wildlife and nature-based economic opportunities and many more.

In a collaboration between Peace Parks Foundation and the COmON Foundation, many families in the Simalaha Community Conservancy have traded their old cooking practices for fuel-efficient cookstoves. Around 9500 stoves are now contributing to improved kitchen and living conditions, and reducing the consumption of wood and charcoal by around 30%. One huge benefit is that, as the stoves cook faster and use less fuel, it enables youngsters, most commonly girls, who are usually responsible for cooking and wood collection, to dedicate more time to education. In the long-term, this reaps benefits for the whole community.

To help future generations understand and care about the environment, Peace Parks and partners recognise the need to work closely with children. An outreach programme in collaboration with Children in the Wilderness, makes environmental education fun for kids in primary schools. Another project has seen 10,000 Groasis Waterboxxes®, donated by the COmON Foundation, help school children to grow thousands of indigenous fruit and other trees in the hope of restoring woodlands lost to deforestation. In the future these trees will provide nuts and medicinal ingredients too. Right now, the schools can grow all kinds of fruits such as papaya, mango, apple and manzanilla.

These and other initiatives will benefit the landscape, wildlife and communities too.
Communities also benefit directly from new employment opportunities that come with tourism development. One example is Anvil Bay Lodge, in Mozambique’s Maputo Special Reserve. This low-impact, community-owned beach lodge has created many benefits for the community, from the purchase of local materials and produce to jobs in hospitality. In addition, the community benefits financially from their share of the profits while concession fees support conservation efforts in the Reserve.

Peace Parks is extremely proud of all the hard work the communities they work with have put in this past year.