In the past few days ALERT’s above-ground woody biomass survey of the Dambwa Forest (home of the Dambwa release pride) has been completed, during which over 8,400 trees have been measured.
Zambia is ranked as having one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world; estimated at 1.5% per annum between 1965 and 2005, but higher, at 1.99%, for the latter years of the period from 1996 to 2005. Trend analysis suggests increasing rates of deforestation for the years 2000 to 2030. The principal drivers of deforestation are agricultural expansion, infrastructure development, wood extraction (e.g. for fuel or charcoal production) and fire, whilst the underlying drivers are high levels of poverty, low employment and employment opportunities, insecure land tenure, weak institutional capacity, and lack of synergy in forest management policies.
Rural households in Zambia are highly dependent on forest resources for food, materials and cash income; over 90% are reliant on forests for fuel. On average, 68% of harvested forest products are for household subsistence needs, with wood products accounting for 66% of harvested resources. There is substantial scope, if Zambia’s forests are effectively managed, to exploit opportunities in the forest sector to generate more rural jobs and income that would stimulate rural development and compliment agricultural-based poverty reduction strategies.
Effective forest management is based on good knowledge of existing forest resources, yet current data on Zambia’s forests is outdated and incomplete. This survey forms part of an ongoing carbon dynamic monitoring programme of the Forest that seeks to contribute to knowledge of the status and trends of forests in Zambia, with the ultimate aim of providing information to assist development of area-specific forest management strategies.
During the survey, ALERT researchers, interns and volunteers, as well as student interns from our partner university in Zambia, Copperbelt University, have:
- Surveyed 52 fixed plots,
- Enumerated 3,154 saplings,
- Enumerated 3,540 trees showing indications of human usage through tree-cutting,
- Located 104 charcoal kilns, and;
- Measured 8430 trees.
This survey is the most comprehensive undertaken in the Forest to date. One previous study surveyed the same number of plots, but measured only 706 trees (due to the survey assessing only larger trees) and enumerating half as many saplings. The other previous study only assessed 25 survey plots.
Over the coming weeks ALERT researchers will analyse the data collected and report their findings to the Joint Forest Management Committee.