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3.13 Country paper: Swaziland


Reality and perspectives
Swaziland Country Paper
Written by
Ms Futhi Felicity Magagula
Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives: Forestry Section
Malkerns Research Station, Swaziland National Tree Seed Centre
P.O. box 4, Malkerns, Swaziland



Reality and perspectives
In collaboration with ICRAF and CIFOR
Nairobi, Kenya, 9-13 December 2002


The Swaziland natural vegetation is mainly highveld grassland with very small patches of evergreen forest, and lowveld tropical woodland, bush and savanna. They are scattered over the four physiographic regions, called Highveld, Hilly Middleveld, Lowveld and Lubombo Plateau. Four categories of semi tropical secondary forests are recognized in Swaziland: post extraction, post fire, post abandonment and post grazing. The majority of these forests are on Swazi Nation Land and managed by the communities to some extent. They are managed for various purposes, as most of the natural resources are multi-functional. There are examples of sustainable management, but more often there is a lack of proper management. Most of the woodlands are severely degraded due to a lack of conservation principles in resource use.

The main causes of degradation of natural forest are due to the strong increase in human and cattle population over the last fifty years. Secondary forest is mainly caused by increase in woody vegetation (indigenous and introduced weedy species) as a result of fire and increased grazing pressure. The economic and environmental interaction of secondary forests with primary forests in the landscape, as well as with farmers' crop and livestock production systems remain largely unknown. Therefore, there is a need to assess the environmental and ecological services of secondary forest in Swaziland.

Government policies related to forestry are not addressing the issues of secondary forest per-se but categorize them as natural forests and woodlands. There is no clear distinction between natural forest and secondary forests. However, considering the current vegetation composition, the woody vegetation appears to more secondary than primary forest and woodland. The majority of secondary forests are post harvesting and post grazing, but their extent is not known. They contribute to the national economy of Swaziland, and to the needs of people for both timber and non-timber products.

Most of the secondary forests are lost to conversion to other land uses, such as land clearing for agricultural crops, livestock grazing, and intensive extraction for timber and firewood, and settlements. In most cases fire is used for site preparation and for pasture management. More sound management strategies on secondary forests should be developed and communities are to be involved in the management aspect.

There has not been any enrichment planting of indigenous forests. However, the new National Forestry Action Program put emphasis on enrichment planting as means of sustainable forest management. The forestry section has tried to address soil degradation by planting exotic tree species in communal land.

It is therefore, necessary to determine the present status, characteristics, extent and potential of this resource and then study its perspectives and potentials.


The vegetation of Swaziland developed under similar conditions as did the vegetation of surrounding South Africa and Mozambique. Swaziland is a very small and mountainous country surrounded to the north, west and south by South Africa and to the east by Mozambique. In an African context, three main vegetation formations cover Swaziland (White, 1983): i) Undifferentiated woodland transitional to Tongaland - Pondoland bushland of the Zambezian regional centre of endemism, cover more than 60 per cent of the eastern half of the country; ii) a mosaic of Afromontane scrub forest, Zambezian scrub woodland and secondary grassland cover the western quarter of the country; and iii) a small area of Undifferentiated Afromontane vegetation in the northwest. The Acocks (1953) Veld Type Map of South Africa also covers Swaziland, and shows three main and parallel vegetation zones running from north to south. Lowveld vegetation of tropical bush and savanna covers the eastern third, and into Mozambique. Lowveld Sour Bushveld runs through the middle third. North-eastern Mountain Sourveld (like many parts of the South African Drakensberg Escarpment), and Sourveld (a montane grassland), cover the western highland and mountains.

Natural mixed evergreen forest covers a very small area of Swaziland and is often not shown on the maps. These forests are generally found at higher altitudes in the west of the country, although relict patches are also found on the lower, eastern boundary on the Lubombo Mountains (Masson, 1991, 1994). The Swaziland forests provide an important biogeographical link between the Northeastern Drakensberg Escarpment forests and the KwaZulu-Natal Scarp forests in South Africa. A joint Swazi-German forest project used remote sensing data and field checks to estimate the area of natural evergreen forest (Hess, et al., 1990). Montane and highland Afromontane forest covered 11 920 ha (0,69 per cent of the country), and Riparian forest or forest confined to river courses covered 2 344 ha (0,13 per cent). Masson (1991, 1994) indicated that mapping from satellite was unreliable for the small forest patches, and that the forest patches are extremely small. They range from less than 10 ha to about 150 ha. Four major categories were identified in the Masson (1991) study. Escarpment forests are the largest, occur above 1300 m and are characteristically found in steep-sided gorges. Montane forests are small, protected pockets along streams on less steep terrain at lower altitude (1000 - 1300 m). Riverine forests fringe large watercourses at lower altitudes, and include typical Middleveld species. Rocky outcrop forests occur amongst boulder outcrops and rocky terrain within the grasslands.

Secondary forest is a foreign concept in Swaziland. Most of the country was naturally covered in grassland at higher altitude, and wooded grassland, bushland and woodland in the lowlands. In this paper secondary forest covers both natural evergreen forest and deciduous woodland.

How the vegetation of Swaziland changed would be determined by land use management practices. The purpose of this paper is to describe the secondary forests that do occur in Swaziland, to give some indication how that secondary forest is managed, to describe the socio-economic-political framework within which that management will take place, and to note the implications thereof for the future conservation and use of secondary forest.


The following definitions apply in this paper:

Definitions provided with the Terms of Reference for this workshop:

Definitions of vegetation formations in Swaziland (FPLP, 2000a):


Swaziland lies between latitudes 25 and 28 degrees south and 30 and 33 degrees east in the south-eastern part of Africa. The country is landlocked and covers an area of 17360 kmē. It is divided into four physiographic zones (Hess, et al., 1990):

The almost 1 800 m range in altitude causes a very variable climate (Hess, et al., 1990). Mean annual rainfall is 1 000 - 1 500 mm in the Highveld, 750 - 1 000 mm in the Middleveld region, 500 - 750 mm in the Lowveld, and 750 - 850 mm on the Lubombo Plateau. The rainfall occurs mainly in summer. The climate ranges from humid subtropical in the Lubombo to humid, near-temperate on the Highveld.

The forestry inventory of Hess, et al. (1990) indicates that forest and woodland cover 45 per cent (789,000 ha) of Swaziland, of which natural forests cover 2.2 per cent, natural woodlands 22.0 per cent, natural bushlands 13.4 per cent, wattle forests 1.4 per cent and plantation forests 6.4 per cent.

The following species were the most common tree species in natural woodlands, accounting for 55 per cent of standing volume: Acacia nigrescens, Acacia karroo, Acacia swazica, Combretum molle, Combretum imberbe, Syzigium cordatum, Spirostachys africana, Pterocarpus angolensis, Pterocarpus rotundifolia, Zizipus mucronata, Schotia brachypetala and Schlerocarya birrea (Hess, et al., 1990). Several disturbances have altered this rich combination of species and what exist now are secondary forests.

The dominant vegetation in each of the zones is shown in Table 1.

Table1: Distribution of vegetation units in Swaziland (Sweet and Khumalo, 1994)

Physiographic zone

Dominant vegetation

Names of vegetation units1


Grassland above 1000 m. A large variety of shrubs and herbs found within the grassland

Plantations of exotics Pines and Eucalyptus species.

1. Steep hill and mountain grassland

2. Hill grassland

3. Steep hill grassland

4. Valley grassland

5. Plateau grassland

Upper Middleveld

Tall grassland with scattered trees, steep slopes or rolling hills, 600 - 900 m

6. Hillside bush

7. Plateau wooded grassland

8. Hills grassland

9. Basin grassland

10. Forest with clearing

11. Valley broadleaf savanna

Lower Middleveld

Broadleaf savanna on steep to gentle slopes, 400 - 600 m

12. Plains broadleaf savanna

13. Foot slopes bush

14. Hilly broadleaf savanna

Western Lowveld

Broadleaf savanna on sandy soil, 250 - 400 m

15. Combretum/Terminalia savanna

16. Broadleaf and microphyllous savanna

17. Dry broadleaf and microphyllous savanna

Eastern Lowveld

Acacia savanna on basaltic plains, 100 - 300 m

18. Dry Acacia shrub savanna

19. Acacia nigrescens savanna


Mixed bush on steep slopes and undulating plateau, 250 - 650 m

20. Steep escarpment bush

21. Plateau bush clump savanna

22. Plateau broadleaf savanna

1 All names of vegetation units are preceded by the name of the physiographic region, e.g. Highveld steep hill and mountain grassland.

The main land uses in Swaziland, as in 1994, are shown in Table 2. Most of the woodland areas in Swaziland are primarily used for grazing. Several of the land uses are found in complex patterns, for example, extensive communal grazing may take place on 50 per cent of the land area but the same areas (savannas and woodlands) may also be used for collecting other forest products (MTEC, 1999). Land use in Swaziland is not changing dramatically as in some other countries in the region, but changes do take place. Natural forests and woodland may be in some sort of overall balance according to recent inventories, but it is also clear that natural woodlands are diminishing due to, for example, increasing settlement and commercial agriculture, notably sugar cane. Forest resources need to be used and managed in a holistic way, in conjunction with other land uses, which often take place simultaneously.

The importance and value of indigenous forests and woodlands to communities is often underestimated. The main distinction is between timber and non-timber forest products. Generally accepted definitions of non-timber products focus on the extraction by local people for home consumption and for sale. These include grazing and fodder production, wood/timber for construction and furniture, fuelwood including charcoal, bark, fruits, edible animals and plants, grass and reed for thatching, basketry and other applications. Some of these products are sold as means of generating income.

Table 2: Main land uses in Swaziland in 1994 (Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, 1994)

Main land use types



Small-scale subsistence crop agriculture.

Large scale commercial crop agriculture.

Extensive communal grazing


Plantation forestry

Parks, wildlife management

Residential, Industry, recreation

Water reservoirs





















Little is documented about the present status of secondary forests in Swaziland. The alarming rate of deforestation and degradation in the natural forest and woodland areas are a result of conversion of land to agriculture, uncontrolled extraction of forest products from communal land, large livestock populations and uncontrolled veld fires. It is further compounded by a number of underlying socio-economic conditions, including increasing population pressure, that counteract rational use of the forests and woodlands. Information on the rate of regeneration and persistence in the different types of secondary forests in Swaziland is not available.

In Swaziland, the effect of over-exploitation in natural forests and woodlands cut across the six physiographic regions. Most of the existing forests are post extraction secondary forests. What varies are the species due to environmental and climatic conditions. Some parts of the Highveld consist of broadleaf species like Pterocapus angolensis, Terminalia sericea, Combretum species, Albizia versicolor, Strychnos spinosa, Strychnos madagascariensis to mention but a few.

The following types of secondary forests can be found in Swaziland:

4.1 Post extraction secondary forests

These mainly occur in the highly populated areas in the highlands of Swaziland. Post extraction secondary forests are largely a result of overexploitation of the forest resources in community areas. The extraction is for three reasons: firstly, to get different forest products like firewood and poles; secondly, for settlement; and thirdly, to expand the grazing areas. When opened-up areas are not managed in any way a secondary forest develop. These forests are characterized by a dominance of alien invasive species. Extraction of indigenous species opened up the ground for the establishment of invasive species like Lantana camara, Psidium guava, Solanum mauritianum, and of late Chromoleana odorata. The remaining trees are strangled by these invasive species and they eventually die. The tendency of these invasive species is that they colonize the area at high density and nothing can grow underneath. Livestock have nothing to feed on and people cannot have access to other useful trees. The alien species are even invading the farms of the local people. Government is still researching the most effective yet environmentally friendly way of eradicating the invasive species.

Shrubs characterize the Middleveld and Lowveld secondary forests and to a lesser extent indigenous Acacias like Acacia karroo and Acacia nigrescens. Grass and wattle (the introduced Acacia mearnsii) cover most of the open spaces.

4.2 Post abandonment secondary forests

This type of forest regenerates in abandoned residential and industrial areas, mainly old mine sites. These mines are Bulembu asbestos and Dvokolwako diamond mines. Some natural regeneration has been observed though the trees are scattered. These forests can be classified as open woodlands. The pioneer species are indigenous Acacia species, shrubs and a bit of Acacia mearnsii in Bulembu. Very little grass regenerates under these Acacias and the local people do not benefit much from these types of forest except getting firewood. The area covered by post abandonment secondary forests is not known.

Forests of this type can be found in the nature reserves like Mlilwane. Before Mlilwane was turned to a game reserve, the owner used to do mining and farmed agricultural crops. After he converted the farm to a game reserve, trees and shrubs started to grow on the excavated sites and on the former maize fields. Some terraces were made to reduce soil erosion on the degraded sites to enhance natural regeneration.

These secondary forests consist of a mixture of trees, shrubs, bush thickets and grasslands. The dominant species are Dichrostachys cinerea, Acacia nilotica, Acacia xanthophloea and Grewia biscolor. These are a result of a combination of factors, one being previous land use systems that left the land degraded and without trees, overgrazing, and sheet erosion as a result of game tracks. Mlilwane being the first game reserve in Swaziland, hunting or culling of animals is not allowed unless there is a shortage in other game parks. Therefore, it is highly populated since there are no predators like the cat family to regulate the population. The size of this game reserve is 4 ha.

4.3 Post fire secondary forests

These are found throughout the country in places with high fire occurrences. Characteristics of these types of forests vary depending on the locality but in general they consist of a mixture of grasslands with open bushlands. The extent of post fire secondary forest is not known. The most dominant species are the invaders Psidium guajava and Lantana camara.

Frequent fires benefit grasses and suppress the recruitment of natural woody plants. In north-eastern Swaziland this resulted in a population structure of Acacia nigrescens of many juveniles and tall trees, but lacking intermediate size classes (Roques, et al., 2001). Similarly, Glaum (1997) found that the woodland structure on commercial cattle ranches in south-eastern Swaziland changed between 1979 and 1997 from a relatively equal mix of mature trees and immature trees and bushes to a predominance of immature and coppicing plants. This was interpreted as a result of hot fires, which killed the aerial portions of many trees and reduced the structure of the tree layer to a more immature state. In both of these examples, burning effectively reduced woody plants in the flame zone to ground level without actually killing many of them and this would likely result in the development of even-sized stands following fire exclusion

4.4 Post grazing secondary forests

It has been proposed that browsing by elephant may alter woodland structure beyond a threshold of change in the game parks. The resultant grassland state may be sustained, even after the removal of elephant (Dublin et al, 1990). In Swaziland, high browsing pressure by goats in communal land and impala in game parks may suppress the recruitment of Acacia nigrescens, resulting in an unsustainable population structure with limited regeneration of the population (Roques, et al., 2001). Heavy browsing may retard the growth of shrubs, thus prolonging their exposure to fire and suppressing regeneration of the population of encroaching tree species.

Livestock is a pride of the Swazi people yet is having a devastating impact on both natural and secondary forest. High grazing pressure reduces the frequency of fire in grasslands and promotes the growth of shrubs.

Not much is known about the impact of grazing on woodland structure in Swaziland, but the encroachment of bush is a documented result (Roques, et al., 2001). Overgrazing is a widely accepted cause of bush encroachment in savanna. The encroachment of shrubs in savanna can alter soil moisture, nutrient and microclimate conditions and can suppress grass productivity (Stuart-Hill and Tainton, 1998). Despite the wide extent of bush encroachment, not enough is known about the general dynamics and causes thereof. Some reports suggest that it is a natural successional response to altered competitive balance, usually created by increased and continuous grazing, the exclusion of fire and reduced browsing.

In the Lowveld region of Swaziland, shrub cover increased from 2 per cent to 31 per cent over 45 years. Dichrostachys cinerea accounted for most of the increment in shrub cover, increasing from a mean cover of 5 per cent to 19 per cent from 1976-1997. During 1997 D. cinerea accounted for 81 per cent of total shrub cover. Two other species that increased were Acacia nilotica and Grewia bicolor, although their combined cover in 1997 was only 4 per cent.

The estimated total area of Dichrostachys cinerea shrubs is 216 km2 in the lowveld. Currently information on the size of the rest of the secondary forests in Swaziland is not available since they were classified as natural forests and woodlands in the latest inventories. Information from the Dichrostachys cinerea bushes indicates that there is shrub equilibrium of 40 per cent cover approximating to 2400 plants/ha. Persistence of D. cinerea bushes depends on the management actions. High grazing pressure and low fire intensities promote increase in cover while low grazing pressure coupled with frequent fires decrease the cover of D. cinerea bushes.

In the Highveld and Middleveld the main species that encroach grassland due to high grazing pressure is Acacia mearnsii (black wattle). These were initially established as community woodlots but they have escaped into grasslands to form the wattle jungles. Their cover and extent in the grasslands is not known except that the present total coverage is 26 000 ha (FPLP, 2000a).


Rural communities live in and around the primary forests and woodlands of Swaziland and they use the following resources:

Utilization of these forests follows a free access system. Anyone from the communities and neighborhood can utilize these forests as long as they are located on communal land. In a case where a forest is located near a chief's home, permission is sought from a chief runner who grants permission on behalf of a chief. If the forest is located on a title deed land, then permission must be sought from the owner of the land.

User objectives vary with location and the types of secondary forests. In the Highveld and Middleveld the objectives are to eradicate invasive species to allow useful tree species and grasses to regenerate. A secondary objective is to improve the management of the wattle jungles so as to improve quality and quantity of their products, which brings handsome economic returns. In the Lowveld, the objective is to limit the spread of D. cinerea that form bushes in other types of land use especially open grazing lands.

There are different perceptions concerning the economic values of some secondary forests in Swaziland. The reason is that they do not contribute significantly to the economy of the country because they are dominated by invasive or encroaching species. However, comprehensive research is needed to determine the true value of the secondary forest products. Their fast growth both reduce soil erosion and stabilize the soil in eroded areas.

The main social problem of the secondary forests is the reduction of the communal grazing areas. In the Lowveld where D. cinerea cover has increased from 2 per cent to 31 per cent, grazing areas have been greatly reduced. In the Highveld and Middleveld, the wattle jungles, Lantana camara and Psidium guajava form impenetrable thickets in the grazing lands. The thickets reduce the grazing areas and serve as a hiding place for cattle thieves. This greatly affects the livestock industry, which is an important primary economic activity in the rural areas of Swaziland (Roques, et al., 2001).


The lack of awareness of the importance and role of secondary forest in peoples' daily lives emphasizes the need for intensive research and education programmes in the country. Management of any resource requires appropriate research, education and training in order to develop the necessary experience and expertise to make wise decisions.

Currently the secondary forests under management are the abandoned secondary forest types and post grazing secondary forest, which are both located in game reserves, and protected and nature conservation areas. The parastatal Swaziland National Trust Commission (SNTC) is responsible for their management. However, private companies which are having protection worthy areas within their boundaries are supposed to register it with SNTC and make sure it is protected. Such areas include watershed areas, fragile soils and areas with protected flora.

Management of other types of secondary forests in Swaziland falls under the Forestry Section of the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives. These forests have been considered as natural government forests and woodlands. However, the Forestry Section carries out annual afforestation programmes as a National event whereby trees are planted on deforested or degraded areas. This enhances natural regeneration because other trees start to grow afterwards.

In the past, community woodlot projects implemented by various institutions (including government and NGOs) usually exercised some form of control, with local participation encouraged at different stages of project implementation. The basic idea behind the projects is to help alleviate environmental degradation and the shortage of fuelwood arising from deforestation. Fast growing species are being used and where possible indigenous Acacias were among those species.


The only type of forest that is under management in Swaziland is the post abandonment secondary forest in the game reserve of Mlilwane. Two types of management systems are being used: in the grasslands, fire is used as a main tool to control the invasion of D. cinerea bushes and Lantana camara. In the forest, alien and invasive species are controlled by a combination of physical cutting and the use of chemicals. This is supplemented by enrichment plantings in those areas where a significant number or biomass of invasive species have been removed.

Apart from the rehabilitated forests, which are confined to nature reserves, the other types of secondary forests in Swaziland are not under any management practice. They are simply regarded as natural forests and are largely an integral part of the local land use system.

Information on the ecological benefits of trees is needed. People are interested in trees for their direct benefit, while the role of trees in the ecosystem is not part of most peoples' perception. Local knowledge of the natural ecosystem is gradually disappearing, while modern agriculture is taking over. The elderly people interviewed showed a more holistic understanding of the role of trees in the ecosystem than the younger ones, who were more concerned with the direct benefits of trees.

Although some people are aware of the need for protecting the forest, most people consider trees as a part of nature that are just growing naturally and do not need to be managed. Trees are considered to be a perennial and permanent part of the natural landscape, germinating and growing naturally. Most people do not make a connection between over-stocking and the lack of natural regeneration of valuable indigenous trees.

On the other hand, the Forestry Section plays an important role on advising people on the importance of managing these forests. A lot has been said through the media and community consultations. A unit has been established to take care of the management of wattle secondary forests. Since the market is increasing, locals are interested in management of these forests. Guidelines on silvicultural and harvesting procedures have been compiled for those managing the wattle jungles. Local people have been sensitized on the environmental impact of wattle on grazing land, biodiversity, and stream flow. Therefore, farmers are advised to confine the trees where they are needed.


8.1 Political constraints

This relate to existing legislation, which does not recognize the socio-economic importance of non-timber forest products and indigenous forest resources. Forestry appears to receive low priority within national development planning. Protection and respect of social and cultural values in the utilization and management of secondary forests deserve due recognition in a new Forest policy.

8.2 Technical constraints

This relate to the limited knowledge that exist in key areas, including information and understating of the utilization patterns of secondary forests, lack of knowledge and experience with community based forest interventions. It is necessary to distinguish between commercial plantation forestry, and natural primary and secondary forests and woodlands important in supporting rural livelihoods. Application of Natural Resource Accounting techniques will enable a more appropriate valuation of the economic value of the nation's secondary forests. Environmental and ecological factors are particularly important in determining future land use whether for forestry, agriculture or any other land use.

8.3 Institutional constraints

This relate to the current inadequate capacity of the present Forestry Section to carry out its mandate. As a result of the widening of the definition of forestry, there is a need to reassess the institutional requirements in order to enable the forestry service to carry out its expanded core function. A strategic evaluation of the functions, ministerial position and status of a new institution responsible for forest management needs to be undertaken to meet its broader commitment to a new Forest policy.

Swaziland is one big nation and tribes do not exist. The King has assigned chiefs in the entire 55 constituencies to monitor allocation of land and utilization of natural resources. However, there is always bias when it comes to distribution of forest resources and it is even worse where there is an acting chief.


Land tenure is an important factor in the management of land, including utilization and conservation of biodiversity. This is characterized by two main categories: communal land (Swazi Nation Land or SNL) and individual farms (Title Deed Land or TDL). However, there is very little information on tenure policies concerning the secondary forest management in these different areas. The Swaziland policies are for natural forests as a whole, and the secondary forests are treated as natural forest. Therefore these policies also apply to secondary forests.

9.1 Government policies on ownership and user rights

Section 2.2, subsection of the National Forest Policy states that (FPLP, 2000b):


"Ownership and user rights of communal forest and woodland reserves are often not clearly defined and the distribution of benefits to individuals is not always clear and satisfactory".


"Detailed rules and regulations covering the rights to forest resources as well as the responsibilities of communities and their individual members towards management of communal forest resources have to be agreed to and defined".

In this regard, the government has through different national planning frameworks and initiatives, formulated development programmes aimed at improving and sustaining livelihoods of its people. Among these are the National Development Strategy (NDS) and the Economic and Social Reform Agenda (ESRA). They provide the framework and basis for a sustainable national development. Therefore, the role of government in forest management should be:

The role of the local authority in forest management can be viewed in relation to the rules and regulations that exist for the exploitation of trees in the Chiefdom, as well as the means in place for enforcement of the rules. Both local authorities and homesteads have referred to few restrictions or rules. The main rules that applied to most chiefdoms were:

The Chief has a powerful position as the King's representative. The Chief can ask for residents in the chiefdom to provide work for the royal kraal and can provide directives that the residents will have to follow. Many people felt that improved management and protection of the forest resources had to be imposed by the Chief.

9.2 Legal frameworks for responsible forest management

The community-based institutional structure in SNL still in place might turn out to be a strong foundation for sustainable community management of the secondary forests and other natural resources. The legal framework for the use and management of secondary forest/woodland resources on SNL is provided for in two pieces of legislation:

The Forest Preservation Act protects trees and forests growing on Government land and Swazi Nation Land. The Act makes it an offence to cut down, damage, remove, sell or purchase indigenous trees or timber on this land without permission, or to cultivate within 30 yards of such timber, or to set fire to such timber. Section 3(b) of the Act states that nothing in the Act shall prevent persons living on Swazi Nation Land from cutting brushwood (bushes, under wood, etc.) or taking dead wood for fuel (Armstrong, 1986).

According to the Swazi Administration Act the control of Swazi Nation Land is vested in the King under Section 10 of the Act, the King has the power to issue orders within 30 different areas, which relates to the management and use of trees.

As for the wattle stands, the Forest policy states that; "Current wattle management practices need to be improved in order to attain optimal commercial value". Options to improve management would include proper registration and organization of wattle growers and grower co-operatives - e.g. in the Swaziland Timber Growers Association - and the introduction of planting and management grants or loans. The Forestry Section should administer such schemes and assist in initiating funding, and play a further role in extension services to wattle growers.


The current policies do not say much about secondary forest per-se but concentrate on natural forests and woodlands as well as industrial forests.


The Forest Policy does mention something on communal responsibility for the management of forests (section 2, subsection


"There is an overall inadequate knowledge of sustainable forest management within communities and lack of appropriate structures within the communities to manage the community forests" in this case secondary forests are included.


"The communities must be empowered to take full responsibility for the sustainable management of their own forest resources".

This empowerment within Chiefdoms is best achieved through the establishment of Forest Resource Management Committees, which should work in close co-operation with the existing community traditional structures and the Forestry Section.


10.1 Main lessons

10.2 Conclusion

To say the least, more information needs to be generated if our secondary forests are to survive the tough competition brought about by sugar cane production. More awareness campaigns need to be carried out specifically to draw the line between natural forest and woodland and secondary forests.

It is difficult to put much blame on the local people. What we call secondary forest is nothing but a disaster to their livestock and themselves. Secondary forests in Swaziland are dominated by invasive and encroaching species that are difficult to manage. One of these encroaching species is of cultural importance and it is used to build the Royal kraal. Declaring war against Dichrostachys cinerea will face resistance from traditionalist and from the Royal household.


If existing secondary forest management is to be supported, improved and promoted, it would be necessary in selected pilot areas to develop a model approach. Such a model should focus on:

i. Assessment of the resource status within primary and secondary vegetation;

ii. Mechanisms for community participation in forest management;

iii. Developing management plans specifying responsibilities and rights for local communities and government officials;

iv. Developing responsibility for indigenous forest resources to local people;

v. Ensuring that the issues of agricultural land cultivation and management of livestock is adequately addressed and integrated into management plans; and

vi. Assuring communities of exclusive utilization rights, and thus that appropriate rules for regulating access to community forest resources are enacted.

Given the basic policy principles outlined above (section 9) and the importance of indigenous forests to rural communities, objectives for secondary forest management programmes can be tentatively identified (final identification and selection of objectives should be made on the basis of consultation with stakeholders). These could be:

As far as Research is concerned, a study should be conducted to determine the ecological status, characteristics and extent of secondary forests. Information should be made available on the contribution of secondary forest in the economy of the country as well as improving the livelihood of the local people.


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11. Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives 1994. Present Land uses Map of Swaziland. Land Use Planning Section. FAO AG: SWA 89/001 Field Document 9.

12. MTEC 1999. Swaziland Environmental Action Plan, Volume 1. Swaziland Environmental Authority, Ministry of Tourism, Environment & Communication.

13. Roques, K.G., O' Connor, T.G. & Watkinson, A.R. 2001. Dynamic of shrubs encroachment in an African savanna: relative influences of fire, herb ivory, rainfall and density-dependence. Journal of Applied Ecology (in press).

14. Stuart-Hill, G.C. & Tainton, N.M. 1998. The competitive interaction between Acacia karroo and how this is influenced by defoliation. Journalof Applied Ecology, 26, 285-298.

15. Sweet, R.V. & Khumalo, S.P. 1994. Distribution of Vegetation Units in Swaziland.

16. White, F. 1983. The vegetation of Africa : A descriptive memoir to accompany the UNESCO/AETFAT/UNSO vegetation map of Africa. Natural Resources Research 20, UNESCO, Paris. 356 pp.

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