The zoning plan for a protected area such as Coutada 5 establishes the framework for management, and is normally the primary document from which the management plan is derived. In Coutada 5 zoning will apply to all activities occurring within the Coutada, and thus appears in the management plan to guide the way in which the area will be managed. Most conservation authorities, AFWR as a private company included, adhere to a strict zoning regime and use zoning firstly as a framework for specific planning, and secondly to facilitate management decisions on the use and development of their protected areas.

The zoning system for Coutada 5 is based on especially the Parks Canada system, with elements of other African zoning systems and plans included. The Parks Canada system provides for five zone classes, but obviously makes no provision for any agricultural ventures, as will be the case for Coutada 5. The Coutada 5 system therefore includes not only the ‘normal’ five biodiversity-based conservation zones, but also an additional four agricultural and one towns/settlements zone. The major zones include the core wildlife-wilderness zone of about 210 000 ha, the future cattle ranching blocks totalling 100 000 ha, and a multiple-use community zone of more than 300 000 ha.