Community Participation in Tree Survey
November 11 2015

Community Participation in Tree Survey

Thanks to the assistance of ALERT conservation research interns and volunteers, the survey of trees in the Dambwa Forest as part of a larger carbon dynamic monitoring programme has made considerable progress over the past few weeks. Of 52 survey plots identified in the Forest 12 have now been completed, with over 1500 trees measured, and almost 1,000 saplings enumerated. This is already double the number of measurements taken during a previous survey of the Forest. 

Tree Survey

There are several sub-sections of the Forest that are created by the routes of roads and powerlines; one of which, an area of c. 1600 ha, lies east of the main highway between Livingstone and Lusaka. This section, an area of around 11% of the total Forest, has now been fully surveyed. The relatively small Natebe community along its eastern border, and a very large suburb of Livingstone town to the south.

Preliminary results from this section indicate that there are 30 species of tree, however a few species dominate; most notably Baphia massaiensis (Sand camwood) and Diplorhynchus condylocarpon (Horn-pod Tree) account for c. 30% of all stems in the area.19 tree species show signs of utilization by communities, with commercially valuable tree species being most impacted. In particular, Baikiaea plurijuga (Zambezi Teak) is being targeted, accounting for almost 60% of all trees with indications of utilization. 

In 2002 the mean tree height for trees with a diameter at breast height of over 7cm in the whole Forest was estimated at 8.0m (3.5 – 20.0m). Within this completed section of the Forest our survey has found an equivalent mean height of 6.15m (1.5 – 17.8m), indicating that larger trees continue to be felled. Average tree diameter is also down, with 98% less than 30cm in this section, compared to 90% during a previous survey of the whole Forest. We have also measured 6.4 charcoal kilns per hectare. Positively, however, regeneration (new trees coming through) is almost 150% of the rate found in previous studies for the whole Forest. Whilst regeneration of Baikiaea plurijuga is at higher rates than found in previous studies, no regeneration of the other four most commercially valuable species has been observed.

Dwabiso Sakala

ALERT is pleased to welcome Dabwiso Sakala. A graduate of Copperbelt University, Dabwiso first joined ALERT in early 2015 under our fully-funded placements programme for students of African universities. Dabwiso was employed full-time in October with one of his responsibilities being to lead the data collection team for this survey.

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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