1972: The Wildlife Act of 1972 is passed in Rhodesia, granting private ownership of wildlife to private landowners and communities.
1978: Ecologists working at the Department of Wildlife Management launch The Wildlife Industries New Development for All (WINDFALL) to engage local communities in wildlife conservation, without resolving the difficult issue of land tenure.
Early 1980's: Emerging property rights literature heavily influenced a group of wildlife managers who felt that development of rural areas in Zimbabwe could be achieved by ranching the native herbivore assemblages in the same way as cattle, but that it could satisfy the twin aims of wildlife conservation and profit. A prominent conservationist, Rowan Martin, formally pulled these ideas together and named them the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources, and thus was CAMPFIRE formally born.
1989: Nyaminyami and Guruve District Councils received Appropriate Authority (AA) for the management of wildlife. The granting of AA to districts meant that they could enter into agreements with private sector wildlife operators, retain the revenue and, in the ‘spirit of CAMPFIRE', devolve it to those wards and villages which lived with and produced wildlife. CAMPFIRE is officially launched with a start-up grant from USAID, 7861 households from 16 wards participate.
1991: The CAMPFIRE Association was formed to represent the interests of the District Councils who had recently been granted Appropriate Authority and to take the leading role in the co-ordination of CAMPFIRE activities and the representation of the CAMPFIRE within national, regional and international fora.
1992: Zimbabwean ecologists help to establish a similar scheme to CAMPFIRE in the Luangwa Valley of Zambia called Administrative Management Design (ADMADE). In Zimbabwe, CAMPFIRE spreads to 70 wards and reaches 70,000 households representing 550,000 people who receive 50% of the income generated from wildlife sales.
1997: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)’s 10th Conference of Parties held in Harare votes to down list elephants to Appendix II on CITES allowing a limited international trade in ivory and elephant products. 200,000 people from 185 community's households are participating in CAMPFIRE projects, with revenue payouts varying from place to place, but averaging US$ 8.4 per participating household, (enough money for a household's food for a week).
2000: Zimbabwe begins the controversial land reform programme in order to resettle landless people living in the overcrowded communal lands.
2001: Many reports indicate that wildlife is being decimated on private land, but CAMPFIRE projects continue on community-owned lands.
2002: CAMPFIRE Association with the support of WWF-SARPO developed new revenue sharing guidelines, which were adopted by members and effected into the Constitution through an amendment. The CAMPFIRE Revenue Guidelines are both a measure of increasing income to communities involved in CAMPFIRE as well as a mechanism for greater accountability and transparency.
2003: Since 1990, the population of elephants on communal lands doubled, even though human population doubled at the same time. Other wildlife increased fifty percent, and trophy size was maintained. The greatly increased revenues meant that land that would have been settled or cultivated was protected for wildlife.
2006: CAMPFIRE Association piloted the Direct Payment System in Mbire District where all stakeholders receive revenue directly from Safari Operators. This pilot project has shown that revenue sharing and distribution can be efficient if all CAMPFIRE districts adopt the Direct Payment System. Notably, in 2006, CAMPFIRE revenues increased to $2million, and to consolidate this improvement CAMPFIRE Association members, at their AGM in 2007 incorporated the revenue sharing guidelines adopted in 2003 into the Constitution of the CAMPFIRE Association for greater enforcement.
2007: CAMPFIRE Association AGM endorsed the Direct Payment System.
2008: A model contract for safari hunting operations was developed to improve trophy hunting monitoring systems.
2010: CAMPFIRE revenue increased to over $2,6million. Currently, 10 major wildlife districts have adopted the direct payment system, with Masoka Ward (370 households) in Mbire receiving wildlife revenues in excess of $120,000 in 2011. Mola ward in Nyaminyami district receives up US$20,000 per month from CAMPFIRE dividends through direct payments from the safari operator.
2010: The CAMPFIRE Trust was registered under a Notarial Deed of Trust. The Trust is independent of the CAMPFIRE Association, and has a mandate to develop new channels and mechanisms of sustaining the CAMPFIRE initiative. It was established to support CAMPFIRE’s nationwide field level activities and global processes for the benefit of conservation and rural development.
2011: The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority embarked on a process to review CAMPFIRE Operational Guidelines to safeguard the principle of beneficiation of communities.
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