Implementation of Campfire

CAMPFIRE’s success over the years is the result of collaborative efforts by CAMPFIRE Service Providers, which include the Zimbabwean government’s wildlife, natural resources and local government ministries and departments, and selected local environmental NGOs, with support from major donors such as USAID.

Despite the programme lacking sufficient legal provision for the predominant or exclusive control and management of natural resources by communities, the CAMPFIRE programme has been able to demonstrate that it is a legitimate form of biodiversity conservation.

Through flexible guidelines and principles for conservation developed over time, CAMPFIRE has to date established effective conservation communities at district, ward and village level managing wildlife, controlling grass burning and tree cutting, and other community based activities whose operations are not supported by donor funding. In major wildlife districts, the functionalty of these local level institutions has been enhanced by direct payments of income from private sector partners since 2007.

In its attempt to sustain the ability of rural communities to participate in the economy through wise and sustainable use of natural resources and to contribute to the alleviation of poverty, CAMPFIRE Association is guided by the following strategic objectives:

  • Facilitating community-based natural resource management activities in rural areas;
  • Setting and maintaining standards for both community and RDC performance under CAMPFIRE principles;
  • Creating opportunities for the participation and involvement of both public and private sector actors in the implementation of CAMPFIRE.
  • Advocating for natural resources conservation and utilisation locally and internationally

CAMPFIRE, being a programme that helps rural communities manage natural resources for their own local development, is guided by one main objective: to enhance voluntary participation of communities in a flexible programme of natural resources management through a system of group ownership/decision making, with defined rights of access for communities residing in natural resource rich areas. 

The CAMPFIRE model (for wildlife management purposes) is based on three main criteria: 

  • Voluntary interest in participation by defined communities and their RDCs (communal wildlife areas exist at the pleasure of specific communities; they are not mandatory or gazetted by any law)
  • Presence of wildlife populations capable of producing sustainable and economically significant income. Communities survive on subsistence farming and have the right to determine diversity and levels of wildlife which are acceptable to them on their land.
  • Income sharing between communities and their RDC, based on the number of animals harvested within an area each hunting season.

Management of other natural resources that are not wildlife equally requires the voluntary participation of defined communities. It has been legally possible for some communities to establish special purpose vehicles such as Community Trusts to drive business ventures for these resources, usually in partnership with the private sector and the RDCs. A typical example is the Gairezi Eco-Tourism project in Nyanga.