Community Participation in Tree Survey
We recently reported that ALERT has commenced a carbon dynamic monitoring programme of the Dambwa Forest in Zambia, in partnership with Copperbelt University (CBU), the Forestry Department, and the Dambwa Trust. The first element of this programme being implemented is a survey of the above-ground woody biomass, more commonly known as trees.
Over the past few weeks we have successfully integrated ALERT, Lion Encounter and Forestry Department staff with volunteers from the community to undertake the survey, which is being supported by CBU staff. Foreign volunteers have also joined the Programme to provide manpower, but also the funding necessary for the study. The Programme is a clear example of ALERT’s responsible development approach in practice, with the key stakeholder groups of community, government, an NGO, academia and a commercial entity coming together towards a common goal; to protect a natural resource for the benefit of the wildlife and people that rely on it.
Whilst the survey is long term and will incorporate additional carbon monitoring elements, data already collected is highlighting clear trends. For example, species diversity is significantly negatively correlated with proximity to human settlement. This is unsurprising given the selective harvesting of certain tree species by communities, living in poverty, who have need of the resources the Forest produces.
Information such as this will be able ALERT to assist the Forestry Department, through the Joint Forest Management Committee, in developing and implementing management strategies and direct interventions to ensure the long term health of the Forest. For example areas which are shown to lack species diversity could be targets for reforestation efforts, utilising trees being grown in ALERT’s nursery that was funded by the Woodspring Trust.
Early results also suggest some good news; the areas surveyed that are most denuded of trees are also areas where natural regeneration is most prolific. What we need to do is look closely at the nature of that regeneration to ensure that the Forest’s natural species diversity is being maintained, or whether interventions are necessary to assist the Forest’s regeneration.
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.