This paper looks at the woodfuel situation in Zambia as recorded in the past five-(5) years in the context of production, supply, demand/consumption and trade.
Perhaps before going into the details of this study paper, it would be important to give a preamble to forestry development in Zambia over the last three decades. Up to the time that Zambia attained political independence and shortly thereafter, it was endowed with an abundant forest resource base. However, with the declining economic situation, increasing population levels and other negative developments of the last three decades, the forest ecosystem has been greatly impoverished. Such developments resulted in escalating rates of deforestation and coupled with the inadequacy of the Forest Policy (up to 1998), were cited as the major contributing factors to the degradation of the forest ecosystem.
While acknowledgement may be made of the fact that between 65% and 70% of Zambia’s land area is under one form of forest cover or another, evidence of continuing deforestation resulting in various negative factors is so obvious. It was based upon such trends that the Zambian Government, through the MENR, felt compelled in 1994 to institute appropriate measures, not only to invigorate the integrity of the Forest Estate, but also to provide for a viable policy and legal framework to attract investments, create responsive corporate/public enterprises, redefine forest land ownership and attract meaningful commitment from a variety of stakeholders to tree growing, protection and utilisation of forest products.
The ZFAP was, therefore, formulated and instituted in 1995 to provide a ministerial framework for the rational management and conservation of Zambia’s forest resources and the enhancement of the forestry sector’s contribution to socio-economic development, poverty alleviation, improved food security and environmental protection of the country (Zambia).
The ZFAP was Zambia’s national response to the aspirations of the FAO initiated TFAP. The Programme undertook to identify key forest sector issues and opportunities available to resolve them and therefore, enhancing national capacity to formulate, implement and monitor a comprehensive participatory forest sector program.
The ZFAP, therefore, ushered in a number of coherent changes, which included formulation of the PFAP and redesigning of the Forest Policy and Legislative frameworks. The PFAP undertook to facilitate the formulation of three participatory forest management plans for Central, Copperbelt and Luapula Provinces. The PFAP is an integral part of the ZFAP process and aimed at supporting and improving the ZFAP process by strengthening institutions involved in the forestry sector. The PFAP also aimed at increasing both direct and indirect benefits from forests and trees to citizens of the three Provinces through greater involvement of forest dependent communities and resource users, while increasing the revenues accruing to the Government from the forestry sector. The implementation of the first phase of the PFAP lasted from August 1995 to December 1998.
Various studies instituted and data collected under the ZFAP (1995 - 1997) revealed how inadequate the old Forest Policy was and how it negatively affected forestry’s contribution to the national economy. Features like the Forestry Department being the solely responsible government enterprise in forest production and the negative effects thereof were greatly exposed. The old Forestry Policy proved inadequate due to the narrow context within which the forestry sector operated. The potential contribution of the Forest Estate was neither fully assessed nor attained under the existing circumstances and provisions of the policy.
The policy gave explicit and implicit powers to the Forestry Department as the largest and most formidable estate agent and manager in the country. The Department enjoyed unchallenged monopoly to grow trees, determine where and when to harvest forest produce, fix, and revise prices of forest products and services. The policy was, therefore, oblivious of the important roles that local communities could play and was completely silent on gender issues. Such circumstances greatly eroded the possibility of a common forestry goal between the Forestry Department and the citizenry at large. Hence, instead of fostering co-operation and participation of traditional rulers and local communities, the policy intuitively engendered frustration and outright conflict.
Evidently, from the above presentation, the need to launch a new policy with dynamic elements for effective participation of all stakeholders was cultivated. The first draft copy of the policy was produced in March 1997 and has since been approved and published in booklet form. The ZFAP also initiated changes to the Forest Law, which led to the drafting of a new Forestry Bill. The Bill is now before parliament and when enacted will usher in the Zambia Forestry Commission that will take over the responsibilities of the Forestry Department.
A number of studies were thus conducted during the ZFAP and PFAP phases, to gather baseline data that was later compounded on some of the above concerns. Working papers have since been documented. However, the coverage of the studies was narrow due to the limited time frames and spheres of operation of the ZFAP and PFAP processes. Nevertheless, since the two processes are on-going, this paper has tried to outline some findings of the published papers and has attempted to make other pertinent suggestions on the sustainable management and utilisation of forest resources, based on the prevailing national, sub nation (regional) and local level woodfuel production, demand and/or consumption, supply and trade. The paper is not exhaustive in itself, but suggests a wider scope and framework within which Government Forestry Policy should proceed if the ‘dream’ of meeting the energy requirements in Zambia is to be realised.
This paper will therefore be tailored in presentation, to the aspirations of the new policy and those of the National Energy Policy of 1994 that prominently featured woodfuel as the first energy sub-sector recognised. The new Forestry Policy was engineered in such a manner that it touched on the main tenets of the Energy Policy concerning sustainable woodfuel consumption.
The broad elements of the Energy Policy which pertain to woodfuel production and its implications on the forestry sector are here-under restated:
- To ensure the management and sustainability of forest resources for woodfuel harvesting
- To improve the technology of charcoal production and utilisation
- To improve revenue collection from woodfuel industry
- To support efforts aimed at finding alternatives to woodfuel in order to achieve higher living standards.
It should also be noted that most figures and/or statistics presented in this paper may vary slightly because of the narrow sampling intensities and non comprehensive nature of most studies conducted, which were mostly locally and/or regionally based and only extrapolated to the national scale. In addition, empirical studies may present variations in precision for different survey localities and timeframes. Nevertheless, the statistics and information presented do give a direction for decision making and planning for sustainable woodfuel production, supply, demand/consumption and trade in Zambia.