Trees are Green (sometimes)
March 29 2016

Trees are indeed, green, but not year round.  As the late rainy season this year takes control over Dambwa, the Forest has flushed green, making the ongoing tree survey as part of our carbon dynamic monitoring programme a little easier in some ways.  Now full of leaves the trees are much easier to identify than during the dry season when many trees are nothing more than bare sticks.  Just compare the two images below, one taken during the last dry season, and the other following the rains.

Dambwa Forest Carbon Dynamic Monitoring

Dambwa Forest Carbon Dynamic Monitoring

Whilst the Dambwa Forest is classified in the Zambezian and Mopane woodland ecoregion subdivision, within which the predominant species is Mopane (Colophospermum mopane), this species is found only in the northern boundary of the Forest.  Dry Miombo woodland with Brachystegia spp. dominant is found in the north of the Forest.  The majority of the Forest comprises teak forest with Baikiaea plurijuga (Zambezi Teak) remnants on Kalahari Sands.

Zambezi Teak is an extremely important species both for its commercial uses, as well as a resource for local communities, in part because of its termite resistance.  On a commercial scale the species is used for railway sleepers, decking (flooring), furniture, and as support in mining tunnel shafts.  Communities commonly seek out the tree to use to make curios, for charcoal production, and as a source of poles and roof beams for house construction. The bark of Zambezi teak is used as medicine for diarrhoea.  This valuable tree, however, is therefore prone to over-exploitation.  Our ongoing tree survey includes an assessment of the status of this species in the Dambwa Forest. 

Data shows that Zambezi Teak is the most impacted species by human utilization, with 66% of all trees showing signs of utilization being Zambezi Teak.  Previous surveys assessed that 90% of trees had a diameter less than 30cm.  Today, from initial survey data we estimate this is now 100%.  Positively, however, regeneration of the species is significantly higher than has been observed previously, suggesting that with careful management Zambezi Teak can again become a dominant species in the Forest, meeting the needs of the local community.

About the Carbon Dynamic Monitoring Programme

Zambia is ranked as having one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world.  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.

The Dambwa Forest was gazetted as a protected forest area in 1976 as a source of wood for timber, fuel and other forest products for the Livingstone community. A Joint Forest Management programme, the Dambwa Trust, was established in 2002 to deepen democracy in management of forest resources between the Zambian government and the local communities

Rural households are highly reliant on forest products, yet there is substantial scope for the forest sector to alleviate rural poverty.  Effective forest management is based on good knowledge of existing forest resources, yet current data on Zambia’s forests is outdated and incomplete.  This study therefore seeks to contribute to knowledge of the status and trends of forests in Zambia.  The ultimate aim is to provide information to the Forestry Department to assist development of appropriate forest management strategies for the long term sustainable use of forest resources by local communities as a poverty alleviation strategy.

ALERT is partnered in this project with the Forestry Department, the Dambwa Trust and Copperbelt University, who will also be supervising the project.

Join the Project

ALERT offers a research internship, which includes assisting this survey.  Click here for further details.

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