The CNRS has been present in Zimbabwe since 1992, in close collaboration with the CIRAD, and under the auspices of the French Embassy in Zimbabwe. The CNRS also has a collaboration with the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (PWMA) since 1999 within the CIRAD-CNRS project in Hwange, which became the HERD program. The CNRS has recognise the work done through the CNRS HERD program has one of its leading operations in sub-Saharan Africa, and has granted it the LTER label (“Zone Atelier” in French), of international recognition (formally approved in February 2011).
The CNRS HERD program gives the scientific framework of the Hwange LTER, which aims at addressing major international challenges: (1) Biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, and (2) Preservation of ecosystem functions in order to maintain ecosystems goods and services. For that, the CNRS has recognised the need to also address key issues pertaining to protected area management: (1) Protected Area integration to regional development plan and land uses; (2) Protected Area as landscape components instead of conservation islands; and (3) Adaptive management in the face of global changes.
The overall LTER framework will help translate management problems into research questions; and facilitate management decisions by the provision of state of the art scientific knowledge, as well as build a monitoring procedure based on indicators to allow adaptive management. This will promote the Hwange ecosystem as a model for savanna socio-ecological system, as well as a world recognised long-term environmental observatory, which will play a major role in the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-Frontier Conservation Area (KAZA-TFCA). The LTER, through the CNRS HERD program and the CIRAD-CNRS PCP platform will provide the adequate training context for young researchers and managers.
Map of the core of the Hwange LTER and CNRS HERD Program. (Thanks the Peace Parks Foundation)
Map of the extended study site of the Hwange LTER and CNRS HERD Program (Thanks the Peace Parks Foundation)