The Luanshya district is Zambia's most densely populated region and as a result its forests have been disappearing. Through a holistic approach that integrates livelihood development with ecological restoration, WeForest supports farmers to restore the native Miombo woodlands that are disappearing from the region. By employing assisted natural regeneration of Miombo woodlots (plots of native woodland on farms) and introducing economic activities such as bioenergy and honey production, local communities can restore their forests. The farmer population benefits from diversified jobs, higher incomes and new skills. The project establishes market linkages between small-scale farmers and local private sector companies. In addition, this project looks to aid farmers in obtaining ownership of land in order to secure the sustainability and longetivity of the conservation and livelihood outcomes.
Restore native Miombo woodlots on smallhold farms
Promote sustainable exploitation of Miombo woodland and sustainable forest management
Promote economic development
Build livelihood resilience
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Why is intervention needed?
In Zambia, poverty and environmental degradation are closely linked. Indeed, Zambia is one of the world’s poorest countries and has one of the highest rates of deforestation. In the Copperbelt province, large numbers of miners were forced into charcoal production after the collapse of the mining industry. Here, WeForest is working to restore Miombo woodlots that have suffered as a result, supporting sustainable socio-economic development and promoting a market for a green alternative to charcoal. Named for the dominant oak-like miombo trees, the Miombo woodland is a unique African environment, important habitat for wildlife.
The project empowers farmers to restore Miombo woodlots on their farmland. Farmers with a minimum of one lima (0.25 hectares) of woodlot are recruited and trained in assisted natural regeneration, which involves protecting and nurturing wild tree seedlings. This process is carried out all year round and serves to promote the natural succession of the forest. To monitor the progress of the restoration efforts and the project in general, the farmers details are stored in a database alongside GIS mapping.
WeForest works with the Luanshya Farmer Cooperative Union to deliver strategies for farmers to make a living without over-exploiting their woodlots. Beehives are set up in woodlots and farmers are trained in honey production. Training also includes techniques to harvest biomass from their woodlots through coppicing, a technique that involves extracting wood from tree stems while leaving the total number of trees intact. The latter is specifically designed to tackle the market for charcoal by offering a sustainable alternative. The resilience of the livelihood initiatives is secured through the creation of market linkages with local private sector companies. Rainlands Timber has committed to purchasing biomass from the farmers to process into woodchips and sell to the wider community. Low polluting Peko Pe cooking stoves manufactured by Home Energy and co-financed by WeForest are sold alongside the woodchips to stimulate demand. For further livelihood development, farmers are given timber and fruit trees, the latter are purchased from women-run home-based nurseries set up by local women with the training and financial support of the project.
* Carbon calculation methodology
In the Copperbelt province, the above-ground biomass in Miombo woodlands can store an average of 145.4 tons of CO2 per hectare after a period of 20 years.
Kalaba, F.K., Quinn, C.H., Dougill, A.J., Vinya, R., 2013. Floristic composition, species diversity and carbon storage in charcoal and agriculture fallows and management implications in Miombo woodlands of Zambia. Forest Ecology and Management 304, 99–109. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2013.04.024