World’s First Carbon-Neutral National Park


A remote national park on the banks of the Zambezi River in Zambia is leading the way in reducing its reliance on fossil fuels. (Nat Geo Voices blog)

Watch our “Picture of Practice” video to better understand how students think about contributions to carbon footprints.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit, including today’s MapMaker Interactive map.

These lovely Loxodontas are as carbon-neutral (plants in, poop out) as the park in which they’re found, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia. Photograph by Hanay, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-3.0
These lovely Loxodontas are as carbon-neutral (plants in, poop out) as the park in which they’re found, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia.
Photograph by Hanay, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-3.0

Discussion Ideas

  • The great news out of Zambia is that the 4,000-square-kilometer (1,545-square-mile) Lower Zambezi National Park is now carbon neutral. What does “carbon neutral” mean?
    • Carbon neutrality describes a situation in which a person, organization, or other entity produces (emits) no more greenhouse gases than it consumes.
    • This does not mean that the lodges and facilities of Lower Zambezi National Park do not produce any carbon emissions. The park attained its carbon-neutral status through a combination of conservation and the purchase of verified carbon units. A verified carbon unit (VCU) represents a reduction or removal of one ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), which can be generated by reducing or removing any of the following greenhouse gases:
      • carbon dioxide
      • methane
      • nitrous oxide
      • hydrofluorocarbons
      • perfluorocarbons
      • sulphur hexafluoride


  • What organizations participated in making Lower Zambezi National Park carbon-neutral? Think about organizations involved in your own national park, and read through the Nat Geo Voices blog post for some help.
    • Private Sector: Tourism businesses led the effort to make Lower Zambezi National Park carbon neutral. In fact, according to the Nat Geo blog, “every single tourism concessionaire” participated in the initiative. Concessionaires include local hotel and lodge operators, retailers, travel companies, restaurants, tour guides, and suppliers to these businesses. Businesses went so far as to offset the carbon emissions of their headquarters in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. Even businesses outside the park participated in the initiative. Perhaps most impressive, these efforts were entirely voluntary and funded by the businesses themselves. In addition to local businesses, global businesses such as BioCarbon Partners helped the park go carbon neutral.
    • Non-Governmental Organizations: Organizations worked with environmental groups such as Conservation Lower Zambezi and business organizations such as Verified Carbon Standard, which established emissions benchmarks.
    • Public Sector: Government and quasi-government organizations, particularly the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) and Zambian Tourism Board, supported the carbon-neutral initiative. As Kampamba Kombe, acting director-general at ZAWA, said, “This innovative achievement not only supports conservation and poverty-reduction activities around the Lower Zambezi National Park, but also aims to promote Lower Zambezi National Park as a world-class wildlife tourism destination.”


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Nat Geo: Lower Zambezi is World’s First Carbon Neutral National Park

Nat Geo: Our Different Carbon Footprints video

Nat Geo: Welcome to the World’s First Carbon-Neutral National Park map

Verified Carbon Standard: What is a VCU?

Zambia Tourism: Lower Zambezi National Park

3 thoughts on “World’s First Carbon-Neutral National Park

  1. The beginning is yet to come, Zambia is trying to spear head the process and others will take the lead after they see what will come out from the first experiment.

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