Zambia is ranked as having one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, around 2% per annum, and increasing). The Forestry Department puts the rate of deforestation in the Livingstone area at 5% per annum, and believes this now has a bearing on local temperature and rainfall levels. Deforestation and consequent climate change, even at a local level can result in alterations to ecosystems through a loss of biodiversity and increased incidence of drought and flood, with negative impacts on food security.
The principle 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.
Dambwa Local Forest No. 22 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. Since 2002 the Forest has been part of a pilot programme within Zambia under which a number of forests are jointly managed by the Forestry Department and community to deepen democracy in management of forest resources between the Zambian government and local communities.
Rural households are highly reliant on forest products, yet there is substantial scope for the forest sector to alleviate rural poverty. However, effective forest management is based on good knowledge of forest resources, yet current data on Zambia’s forests is outdated and incomplete.
ALERT, in partnership with Copperbelt University, is working with the Dambwa Joint Forest Management Committee, comprising communities close to the Forest and the Zambian Forestry Department, to regenerate the Forest and create revenue generating potential from the sustainable use of forest resources.
1. Carbon dynamic monitoring programme: Starting in June 2015 with an assessment of above-ground woody biomass, this project will expand over the coming months to include assessments of all above and below-ground biomass, , horizontal and vertical structure, mortality, root turnover, soil carbon, soil respiration, stem expansions and contractions, stem respiration and litter fall, over time;
2. Safety and Sustainability in the Dambwa Forest: In addition to the deforestation impact of wood-burning fires, such fires are responsible for some 17% of carbon dioxide emissions globally. Added to this, over-exposure to these open fires during cooking can cause bronchitis, asthma, and lung cancer. According to the World Health Organisation nearly 2 million people a year die prematurely from illness attributable to indoor air pollution due to solid fuel use – more than the number of people who die each year from Malaria. During 2014, ALERT, in partnership with co2balance, and with funding from the Woodspring Trust, developed and provided low-carbon cookstoves to all 336 households surrounding Dambwa Forest. We assessed wood consumption to have fallen an average of 69% by using the stove compared to open fire cooking practices.
3. Reforestation efforts aim to restore biodiversity within the Forest to expected levels for forests of this type in this region, and will additionally focus on replacement of trees most valuable to local communities. Over 1,900 trees have so far been planted. In 2014 with funding from the Woodspring Trust a tree nursery has been established in the Dambwa Forest.
4. Benefit Sharing: ALERT leases a large portion of the Dambwa Forest for the African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Programme, operated in this location by our partner Wildlife Encounter. Revenues generated from related commercial activities are shared with the Dambwa Trust, established as the conduit for JFMC members to receive benefits derived under this system. As at the end of 2015 USD 58,282 has been generated for the JFMC.
5. Associated Projects: Forest Management projects are additionally supported through ALERT's work with JFMC communities through our school development projects and ALERT Education Centre programmes. An interrelated entomological survey of the Forest, as well as a monitoring programme of an elephant population that utilises the Forest and enters into conflict with JFMC communities, further supports forest management efforts.