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Pilot country study - Lesotho


Introduction
The Use of NWFP in Lesotho
Vegetal NWFP
Faunal NWFP
Forestry services
The Importance of NWFP in Lesotho
NWFP of Relevance in Lesotho
Technical Description
Renewability and Sustainability
Environmental Implications
Problems and Constraints
Recommendations
References
ANNEX I: Classification of NWFP
ANNEX II: Statistical Data on NWFP


Introduction

Lesotho is rated among the poorest countries in the world. Indeed it is ironic that the country and its people seem to survive, even under the most daunting of economic recessions, due mainly to its precarious position right in the middle of South Africa.

Lesotho is often referred to as "the Kingdom in the Sky" by virtue of its mountainous and rugged terrain, ranging in altitude from 1 400 m in the south-west to 3 480 m in the east. The country is divided into four physiographic regions, namely, the mountain region in the east, the foothills in the central parts, the Senqu (Orange) River Valley from the north-east to the south-west, and the lowlands in the west.

Most of the country is devoid of natural tree vegetation, the existing trees being mainly exotics in government-established woodlots found in most of the lowlands and foothills. Patches of natural indigenous forest can be found in a few areas in the north and south of the country. How these escaped exploitation is still a mystery, considering that most of the country's tree vegetation has been used for fuelwood for many years, hence the scarcity of fuelwood in the country.

Although the whole of Lesotho can essentially be considered to be rural, for practical purposes the country is divided into both rural and urban areas, the latter being those found in and around major town centres such as the capital, Maseru. The majority of Basotho live in the rural areas, where about 80 % of the population were counted during the 1986 census. Migratory tendencies indicate that the people prefer the lowlands and urban agglomerations.

Employment opportunities within the country are scarce, with the government providing almost half of formal employment. Many Basotho men used to work in South African mines, but recently there has been a lot of retrenchments.

Lesotho's economy is mainly based on the agricultural sector. Although only about 10% of the land is arable, efforts are made to improve farming methods for the production of staple crops such as maize, sorghum, pulses and wheat. Several agro-industries have been developed, mainly for the export market; these include a cannery which processes fruit and vegetables, mainly for export, but also for local sales.

Afforestation in Lesotho is the responsibility of the government, and as already mentioned, this mainly involves the establishment of woodlots for the production of fuelwood and building materials (mainly poles). Recently the government has also been looking into the introduction of species which can provide fodder and other products. The main species used for woodlot establishment are Eucalyptus spp. and Pinus spp., although Acacia spp. and Cuppressus spp. have also been tried in the past with limited success.

The remaining indigenous forest consists mainly of species such as leucosidea (Leucosidea sericea), the white stinkwood (Celtis africana), the wild olive (Olea africana), the mountain cabbage tree (Cussonia paniculata) and the highland protea (Protea caffra).

The Use of NWFP in Lesotho

Although in the past Basotho depended on NWFP for many of their daily requirements, today NWFP which feature prominently in their livelihood are very few; such is the extent of the destruction of natural resources and the environment in Lesotho. Most of the people rely on the meagre production from their fields, and even more on products purchased from various retail outlets.

Although the NWFP found in Lesotho are few, they however still play a significant role in the lives of many Basotho.

Vegetal NWFP

Food

Most food NWFP in Lesotho are in the form of exotic fruits, which in some cases are semi-naturalized in Lesotho. The main ones are peaches (Prunus persica), apples (Pyrus malus), apricots, (Prunus armeniaca), pears (Pyrus communis) and quinces. All of these grow very well in all the bioclimatic regions of the country and provide important nutrition to some of the poorer members of both the rural and urban communities.

A species which is not common in Lesotho, but which certainly grows very well in the eastern highlands of the country is the walnut (Juglans regia). At a mission station in the town of Thaba-Tseka, three big walnut trees are in evidence. The trees are said to be more than 50 years old and are still bearing plenty of nuts annually. The nuts are mainly eaten by school children and mission workers. J. regia is a species worth following up in the highlands of Lesotho, and in fact, the author has set up trials of the species with two farmers in the area.

Various types of wild spinaches can also be found in many parts of Lesotho, the main one being Amaranthus spp. which have still not been domesticated in Lesotho although the people have used them for many years, and are still a very popular Basotho food even today.

The sweet briar (Rosa rubiginosa) is also an important traditional food of the Basotho. It produces rosehips which are very rich in vitamin C. There have been attempts recently by the local cannery to market rosehip jelly and dried powdered rosehip commercially. Bramble, of which there are two species in Lesotho (Rubus rigidus and R. ludwigii), is also important for the berries it produces.

Forage

A few of the indigenous species found in Lesotho serve as important fodder for livestock, especially in times of drought. Probably the commonest is the mountain cabbage tree (Cussonia paniculata). Of the naturalized exotics, there is the century plant (Agave americana) whose immense inflorescence is used as cattle feed in the spring, the honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos), black locust (Robinia pseudo-acacia) and the weeping willow (salix babylonica). Recent introductions of fodder trees in Lesotho include tagasaste (Chamaecytisus palmensis), tree lupin (Lupinus arborea) and salt bush (Atriplex spp.), all of which have performed very well so far in the country. Forage NWFP are particularly important for Lesotho since the number of domestic livestock kept is way beyond the carrying capacity of the available grazing lands. It is estimated that overstocking in Lesotho is about 300%!

Medicines

A large number of the plants found in Lesotho are used for traditional medicinal purposes. Indeed, one of the main commercial activities in the country is based on traditional medicines. Some of the more popular species in this respect are the wild wormwood (Artemisia afra), the bitter aloe (Aloe ferox), the wild sugar bush (Pollichia campestris, the bush guarri (Euclea crispa var. crispa) and the parsnip tree (Heteromorpha arborescens).

Traditional medicines in Lesotho are used to cure a wide variety of physical ailments and conditions of both humans and animals, and for spiritual purposes, although whether the latter works or not is another matter.

The use of medicinal plants in Lesotho has been poorly documented.

Ornamentals

Surprisingly, there is quite an interest in ornamental species among Basotho, particular those in the urban and peri-urban areas of the country. Ornamental species are grown around the homestead as hedges of (usually) privet (Ligustrum spp.) or cypress (Cuppressus spp.), and also as single trees for shade such as the pepper tree (Schinus molle). Roses (Rosa spp.) are also very popular among the urban communities of Lesotho as objects of beauty.

Faunal NWFP

Wild animals

In days gone by Lesotho used to be a haven of wild animals of all types. However, today only a few small mammals can be found in various parts of the country. These include hares (Lepus spp. and Pedetes spp.), rabbits, rock-rabbits, porcupines (Hystrix africaeaustralis) and a few buck (Oreotragus oreotragus, Raphicerus campestris and Sylvicarpa grimmia). People do still hunt these for meat, but unfortunately populations have been drastically reduced due to man's instinctive urge to kill wildlife, and also probably due to the disappearance of the animals' natural habitat.

Fish

Many of Lesotho's rivers are well stocked with fish, especially trout (both Salmo gairdneri and S. trutta fario). Other fish species are found in dams scattered around the country; the main dam species are the catfish (Clarias spp.), the Cape carp (Labeo capensis) and the barb and yellowfish (Barbus spp.). Many Basotho view fish as a cheap source of protein which can be caught for free. Very often local men and boys can be seen fishing in rivers and dams using rather hastily assembled fishing tackles. Most of the fish caught is for home consumption, although occasionally some may be sold.

Insects

Despite the shortage or lack of natural vegetation in Lesotho, bees can be found throughout most of the lowlands of the country. This is probably because of the many flowering plants that can be found in the region. Although Basotho enjoy honey, they do not seem to be very keen on going into bee farming, even though there is a definite market for home-grown honey. Most of the honey used in Lesotho is imported from South Africa, as are a number of other foods including vegetables and fruit. There have been efforts in the past, mostly by expatriates working in the country, to start small-scale apiculture operations, but with no significant success as the locals always seemed rather reluctant to embark on such schemes, mainly for fear that "the bees could attack at any time". So far in Lesotho, there is probably only one bee farmer, in the southern town of Mafeteng, who has made a modest success of bee farming, which he combines with fruit farming. The honey he produces is sold locally.

Birds

Again the scarce vegetation of Lesotho has tended to diminish bird populations in the country. However, for the ornithological enthusiast, there are still about 288 species of birds in Lesotho. At the subsistence level, game birds which were once plentiful in most of the lowlands and foothills are now becoming rarer and rarer. However, the following can still be found and their hunting for meat still continues. The greywing francolin (Francolinus africanus) is very common in the lowlands where it can be found in wooded areas, and also in some of the mountain areas. The common quail (Coturnix coturnix), is a great favourite among Basotho hunters and herdboys for its edibility. The helmeted guineafowl (Numida meleagris) is fairly common in the lowlands and can be found in the popular and willow trees along river banks. It can also be found in some of the larger woodlot areas. Several species of ducks and geese also occurs in the lowlands.

Forestry services

Although forestry development in Lesotho is rather slow, and to a certain degree, haphazard, the importance of tree planting and forests has filtered through to most Basotho, who have now come to realize the benefits that can be derived from trees.

Range

Through the influence of a handful of rural development projects in the country, some livestock farmers, mainly in the mountain areas, have come to realize the importance of trees in the rangeland. Currently, most rangelands in Lesotho are almost totally devoid of tree vegetation, but the introduction of a number of fast-growing browse species such as tagasaste (Chamaecytisus palmensis), is set to change the whole situation. The management of rangelands in Lesotho is based on a system of Range Management Areas (RMA's) which emphasizes full participation by local livestock farmers, with minimal assistance from government authorities, and this seems to have taken quite appreciably in some areas.

Soil improvement and protection

One of the main catastrophes to befall Lesotho is that of soil erosion. The country, particularly the lowlands, is scarred with huge gullies which continue to grow because of the little effort that goes into soil conservation. However, most of the gullies in the western lowlands have so far been under a certain degree of control, due mainly to the tree vegetation growing in them. The grey poplar (Populus canescens) can be found growing quite happily in most lowland gullies, thus keeping such in check, as well as providing much-needed fuelwood to the local people. Other tree species can also be found growing on degraded lands; these include G. triacanthos and R. pseudo-acacia. Most of these tree species are self-regenerating and need no further attention other than to occasionally harvest for fuelwood or fodder. The latter two species are leguminous, and are therefore important in improving the soil through nitrogen fixation and litter fall.

Parks and reserves

The 7 500 ha Sehlabathebe National Park, located the south-east corner of the country, is Lesotho's first and, to date, the only one. The park serves mainly to conserve some rare plant species, and also a few wild animals and birds, including the rare white lily (Aponogeton ranunculiflorus), the Maluti minnow (Pseudo-barbus quathlambae) which was once thought to be extinct, a few species of buck, wild cats and baboons. However, as far as tourism is concerned, the park still has to reach its full potential. The park offers fishing, hiking bird watching and game viewing, and is quite popular with foreign visitors.

Aesthetics

A few areas in Lesotho can be considered to be aesthetically important in terms of the sights they offer, and the history attached to some of them. One of the more important ones is the Mission Cave House at Masitise in the south of the country. It is one of the few areas in Lesotho where a dense and untainted indigenous forest can still be found, giving one a glimpse of what the country might have looked like a few centuries ago. Another area of scenic beauty if found in the north of Lesotho; this one is probably the only area in the country which boasts an extensive forest of the indigenous tree species Protea caffra, the highveld protea. During summer when the tree is in flower, the area becomes one attractive landscape of pink to white flowers. Tourists often visit the area between November and February, which is when the trees are in flower.

Most of Lesotho, with its spectacular falls, rivers and valleys is also an attraction in itself, particularly on horse-back.

The Importance of NWFP in Lesotho

Although Lesotho is not well-endowed with natural and even exotic forest areas, Basotho have long learned to appreciate the value of forest- or tree-related products. Obviously, the country being in the state it is in today in terms of natural vegetation, foremost among the priorities of most Basotho is energy. When the people see a tree, or hear about trees and forests, they think about fuelwood. However, it is encouraging to note the increase in the planting of fruit trees in Lesotho. Almost without exception, this is done at household or individual level, and it goes to show how important the people rate food production.

In villages in the lowlands and foothills people grow several varieties of peaches (Prunus persica), apples (Pyrus malus) and pears (Pyrus communis), as indicated already, mainly for home consumption; but an increasing number are going into semi-commercial production, because they realize the potential benefits to be gained from growing fruit trees.

It is sad to note that at the national level, the only recognition given NWFP is their importation from South Africa. There is absolutely no recognition for the fruit produced by the people of Lesotho, hence each semi-commercial producer has to try and find a market for his produce.

NWFP of Relevance in Lesotho

In the last year there has been a spate of deaths, particularly among toddlers and babies, in Lesotho. The main reason, according to the authorities, is starvation and malnutrition. In a country where peach trees sometimes grow wild, it is totally unacceptable that people should go hungry. In any case, it is very clear that food is the main issue to be addressed in Lesotho. The fruits that grow in Lesotho have already been mentioned. However, besides the domesticated fruit, there are a few wild species such as the prickly pear (Opuntia spp.) and the rosehips (Rosa spp.) which are both very nutritious and can probably be easily be cultivated in Lesotho. There are also many wild spinaches just waiting for domestication. However, Urbanization would seem to be leading Basotho further and further away from their traditions, judging by the number of people who do no care much for wild NWFP.

Besides food NWFP, fodder or forage is also very important since many rural Basotho keep large numbers of animals, in areas with very little or no pasture at all. Trees which have grown in Lesotho since the last century, such as the weeping willow (Salix babylonica) are still very popular among livestock owners, because of the leaves they feed to the animals. However, most of these trees are either self-regenerated, or were planted many years ago and their ownership is uncertain. This shows that although there is a poor tree planting tradition in Lesotho, the people are very much aware of the benefits. planting of fodder trees in Lesotho has already received much attention from both government and a number of non-governmental organizations, giving recognition to the potential importance of this resource.

As in many other African countries, traditional medicines are very important to Basotho. Although the country has been stripped of most of its important vegetation, many plant species still exist which are popularly used by traditional practitioners. However, the practitioners have lately tended to go over into South Africa for some of the more popular herbs which are no more available in Lesotho.

Basotho craftsmen use some of the few remaining tree species such as the white stinkwood (Celtis africana), the wild sage (Buddleja salviifolia) and the camphor bush (Tarchonanthus camphoratus) to make wooden articles and fighting/walking sticks. This great tradition is also dying because of the shortage of raw material, which now has to be fetched from very remote areas of the country, or even from South Africa. The articles made from wood are usually of very good quality, and the craftsmen make a reasonable living from this trade.

Institutional Aspects

Until very recently, there was no specific authority in Lesotho charged with the responsibility for natural resources, although legislation existed that protected certain flora and fauna. Indeed, even today responsibilities of the different government ministries are not very clearly defined as regards natural resource conservation, management and protection.

In any case, the Ministry of Agriculture, Co-operatives and Marketing is responsible for all afforestation, and tree planting matters, soil conservation, land use planning, range and fisheries in the country. The Ministry operates through various department and divisions, each of which is responsible for a particular discipline. Then there is the Ministry of Natural Resources which is responsible for all the natural resources in the country, their exploitation and protection; there is a certain degree of overlap between this and the Ministry of Agriculture. The Ministry of Natural Resources also operates through several departments, some of which have recently been established, as the Ministry itself is a new one.

Other than government agencies, there are private organizations such as the Lesotho Conservation and Preservation Trust whose main goal is to foster and aid financially the conservation, preservation, and proper utilization of Lesotho's natural heritage, including endangered flora and fauna species.

There are a number of other non-governmental organizations in Lesotho which are concerned with environmental protection and natural resource management; but these are mostly in the form of foreign-funded projects which have a limited life-span.

Personnel

Most of the government personnel responsible for matters pertaining to NWFP are usually either not technically qualified at all, or poorly qualified to do their job, and usually such NWFP responsibilities have to be taken over by expatriates. For example, most of the government's forestry staff are only aware of the management of exotic woodlots for the production of fuelwood and poles; the government's horticulture staff are mostly concerned with the propagation of fruit trees and not in developing the interest of the community in such trees; it is usually assumed that those who need the trees will come to the government establishment dealing with such trees.

Also the research carried out is mainly concerned with the development of new cultivars or varieties of species such as peaches and apples, and not with the use or development of indigenous NWFP.

Funding

The government funds its own programmes, sometimes with the assistance of foreign aid. The Lesotho Conservation and Preservation Trust depends mainly on donations from the public and the commercial sector. Foreign funded projects usually only exist for a given period and then die a natural death, as is the case elsewhere in Africa.

Legislation

Although legislation exists for the protection of Lesotho's natural resources, it does not seem to have any impact on the illegal use of such resources. This is mainly because of lack of law enforcement. Even right up to today many important and endangered plant and animal species are still being misused by many rural and urban communities. An example is Protea caffra which is found at two locations in northern Lesotho; in one of the locations, this beautiful tree has been virtually wiped out by the locals who use it for fuelwood, and also debark it for medicinal purposes, even though it is a legally protected species in Lesotho. Legal Notice NO. 36 of 1969 (the Proclamation of Monuments, Relics, Fauna and Flora) is the legislation currently in effect. It is supposed to protect a number of fauna and flora, as well as relics and national monuments. The Forestry Act No. 11 of 1978 also protects government managed forest reserves, but people still manage to damage these.

Policy

The government has had a forestry policy for a long time now, but it has never really been implemented. To a certain degree, the agricultural policy, which includes fruit trees, has been implemented, but not to any significant degree. An environmental policy exists for Lesotho although it has never been implemented mainly because, until recently, there was no government agency to implement it or other policies relating to natural resources and their management.

Education and Research

The National University of Lesotho only established a Faculty of Agriculture in 1990. This offers mainly courses in various aspects of agriculture, with very little forestry, and no natural resource management courses at all. The Lesotho Agricultural College, which is affiliated to the University, also offers diploma and certificate courses in a combination of forestry, soil conservation and range management subjects.

A few of the lecturers at the University do some research with regard to the distribution of certain indigenous plant and animal species, and occasionally study their reproduction as well, but virtually nothing on the potentially economic indigenous flora and fauna.

Technical Description

In view of the disturbing environmental situation prevailing in Lesotho it would seem reasonable to suggest that the most important NWFP in the country are food, forage and soil improvement and protection.

Food

The harvesting of food NWFP in Lesotho simply means picking the fruit from the tree, or going into the veld or field to collect wild spinaches. Since most fruit trees, especially peaches (Prunus persica) and apples (Pyrus malus) are located near the homesteads, the fruit is easily harvested, placed in baskets, bags or large bowls and taken indoors to cleaned and eaten. Not all of the harvest is eaten all at once. Some of the fruit are cut in half or smaller pieces and then dried in the sun. The dried fruit can be stored for several years and used when necessary. Fruit are also canned by most Basotho women. This involves the cooking of the fruit in a glass jar of water and sugar; the fruit thus preserved can then be stored for a number of years. Jam is another favourite fruit product in Lesotho, especially that made from apricots (Prunus armeniaca) and peaches.

The main wild fruits collected are the prickly pear (Opuntia spp.) and rosehips (Rosa spp.). Both are a bit difficult to harvest because of their prickly nature. However, the prickly pear is usually harvested using a piece of cloth or paper or a stick, to avoid contact with the spines. The fruits are placed in a large bowl and taken home where the spines are removed Using the same piece of cloth used for their harvesting. Some people throw the fruits briefly in a fire to remove the spines, after which the fruits are sliced open and enjoyed. Herdboys usually enjoy the fruit fresh in the veld. They also eat the rosehips, which they collect very carefully by hand to avoid the spines of the rosehip bush; they then roll the fruits on a stone to squeeze out the hairy seeds, after which the fruits are enjoyed. Rosehips are being commercially processed for the making of a delicious jelly, and are also dried and exported to South Africa as a health product component, probably because of their high vitamin C content. Boiling fresh rosehips is said to extract about 40% of the vitamin C while drying is said to extract about 64%.

Wild berries such as Rubus spp. are also harvested by Basotho women in February and March. Some of these are consumed at home, while a sizeable amount is sold locally.

The principal purpose for which the Basotho have traditionally planted trees is fruit production for home consumption, as already stated; however, if the harvest is good some of the produce may be sold; this is especially the case with apples, peaches and apricots. The fruit may be sold from the household, or at a roadside market; sometimes the children will go from household to household selling the fruit. Basotho women also sell some of their canned fruit at local markets. All the selling is usually not done too far from the homestead, so walking is usually the main mode of transport. If a large quantity of fruit or wild spinach has to be sold, then public transport is used to go to the nearest market centre. Incidentally, wild spinach is also a very popular item in the vegetable markets of Lesotho, the most popular species being Amaranthus paniculatus, A. thunbergii, Lotononis dieterlenii and Chenopodium album. Some Basotho women will rise very early to go to the fields to collect as much of the wild spinaches as possible for selling at the local markets, and also for home consumption. The wild asparagus (Asparagus africanus) is also enjoyed by some of the rural people of Lesotho, especially its young shoots which are boiled and eaten.

Forage

It has already been shown that the Basotho are basically a nation of livestock farmers despite the acute shortage of grazing land and pastures. The livestock are kept mainly for wool and mohair production (sheep and goats), and it is taboo to talk to Basotho livestock owners about the introduction of livestock reduction programmes, even in the light of the desperate situation regarding animal feeding.

The harvesting of forage species for animal feed involves mainly the removal of leaves, pods and small branches or twigs of the few species which are available in Lesotho. These include the mountain cabbage tree (Cussonia paniculata), the weeping willow (Salix babylonica), the basket willow (S. viminalis,) the goat willow (S. capensis), the honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos), the black locust (Robinia pseudo-acacia), various poplars (Populus spp.) and the privets (Ligustrum spp.). In most cases, the tree forage is cut using pruning shears and fed to the animals waiting nearby; this usually happens during the dry season. In some cases animals such as cattle and goats are allowed direct access to the trees where they browse freely.

Privet is a popular hedge species in Lesotho and has to be cut back to a predetermined height periodically. The leaves thus removed are fed to animals, who seem to enjoy them although the privets are not widely known as fodder species. With the honey locust and the black locust, the pods are usually collected in bags, taken home and fed to livestock, especially because the honey locust being so thorny, it is not advisable to allow animals to get too close to the trees; even the harvesting of the pods can be very tricky because of the thorns, so these are usually collected when they have fallen from the tree. Tagasaste or tree lucerne (Chamaecytisus palmensis) is a new forage species recently introduced into Lesotho, where it has performed very well, although it is not quite widespread yet. Tagasaste forage is very nutritious to all types of animals (both domestic and wild) and can be used, for instance, in rabbit production as feed. Animals can be allowed to browse tagasaste trees or the leaves can be harvested and stored for use during times of grazing scarcity.

A number of tree and shrub species in Lesotho are useful as bee-forage. These include several of the eucalypt species (Eucalyptus spp.), the pepper tree (Schinus molle), the wattles (Acacia spp.), tagasaste (reputed to be particularly good for this purpose), privet, peach, apple, apricot and pear. Usually the hive is placed somewhere among or near the trees so that the bees can easily access the flowers and therefore the nectar.

Soil improvement and protection

To most visitors to Lesotho it is very clear that the country has serious erosion problems which seem to be accelerating with no end in sight before all the country's topsoil goes down the rivers into South Africa. The problem is much less obvious to the Basotho who have lived all their lives in the country, and presumably should care deeply about what is happening to their land. The problem of soil erosion in Lesotho is such that fields which were ploughed and productive in the early 1970's are now useless after two decades of sheet and gully erosion. The problem is worsened by the fact that poor agricultural methods have also resulted in nutrient-deficient soils which are structurally unstable.

The authorities in Lesotho have long recognized the importance of curbing soil erosion by any means, especially in the lowlands. In 1936 the Soil Conservation Division of the Ministry of Agriculture began using exotic trees to complement its other conservation works, and Up to 1972 more than 60 million trees had been planted. Very few of these trees survive today, and most that do are poplars, particularly Populus canescens varieties which have reproduced from root suckers. The bulk of the remainder is made up of wattles, pines, eucalypts, honey locust and black locust.

P. canescens is today a permanent feature of most of the lowland dongas (gullies). Although the trees are regularly harvested for fuelwood and poles, they quickly regrow, thereby giving stability to the donga. The wattles and the locusts are also found in some dongas. They are particularly useful because they are legumes and therefore improve soil fertility and structure through nitrogen fixation and leaf fall. The pines (Pinus spp.) would appear to be more effective in containing erosion on slopes, their leaf litter forming an erosion-resistant mat of interwoven needles. Pines can be found growing on most lowland plateaux and hill slopes.

Recent developments have tended to encourage Basotho in rural areas to take over a piece of eroded land or donga and plant it to a wide variety of trees, shrubs and ground vegetation. This, it is hoped, will serve as a barrier to further erosion, as well as providing fodder and fuelwood for use by the locals and their animals.

Most Basotho farmers cannot afford the expensive inorganic fertilizers required by modern agriculture. The use of leguminous tree species for the production of green manure would also help in increasing crop productivity. A rural development project in the south of Lesotho has been encouraging farmers to adopt this approach, and the initial response has been encouraging.

Many Basotho have taken to planting trees around their homes in the form of hedges or windbreaks, as well as for shade and amenity. All these efforts go some way towards protecting the country's soils.

The main problem facing the people, however, is ensuring good survival and establishment of the trees, especially in areas where water is scarce. Fortunately there is enough expertise (both local and expatriate) to advise on these matters. Certain establishment techniques have been developed to assist tree establishment, and the people are also encouraged to water their trees at least once fortnightly until they are firmly established.

During establishment, it is particularly difficult to try and plant seedlings on the donga wall. So a method has been devised of directly sowing pelleted seed in the wall of the donga. This method has worked very well in the south of the country. Seedlings from pelleted seed do not require much attention once they have germinated, except protection from animals. Planting on other types of land and on the donga floor simply involves the digging of pits (about 75 cm x 75 cm x 30 cm) and then planting the trees. The dimensions of the pit (especially the depth) can be reduced if the soil is very rocky. Pitting is usually done with a traditional hoe or pick-axe and spade.

A problem which often crops up is that of seedling availability. In this instance, farmers are usually shown methods of taking cuttings from existing trees (especially in the case of poplars and willows), which they can then plant directly in a suitable area. With other tree species, farmers either have to buy the seedlings themselves, or have the seedlings given to them free of charge (this is usually the case where a project emphasizing people's participation is in progress). Where the people have to buy their own seedlings, transport can usually be a problem if they live far from government nurseries. In such situations the people have to rely on the local forester or extension agent to bring them the seedlings.

Renewability and Sustainability

All the tree and shrub species discussed already grow in Lesotho, and the advantage is that since they are used for food and forage, they are unlikely to suffer any major damage that could result in their total eradication. For example, once Basotho have planted fruit trees they make sure that they survive and protect them from damage by animals and other agents. There are many very old specimens of fruit trees found all over the country, some of which are more than 50 years old, but are still bearing fruit.

However, with forage species a lot of care has to be exercised in order to protect the trees from damage by animals; this can easily happen in situations where animals are given unlimited access to the trees to browse.

Species such as the rosehips (Rosa spp.) hold much promise for the Basotho and are not browsed by animals. However, their germination still has to be ascertained as they have proved rather difficult to propagate from seed in the past. But generally, most of the other species are already being propagated in government nurseries throughout the country and should be easily accessible to most Basotho.

Even those species that are used for the protection of the soil as well as fuelwood, such as Acacia spp. and Populus spp., should prove extremely difficult to eradicate because of their root-suckering habit, therefore productivity from them can be expected to continue sustainably for a long time.

Propagation material is easily available in Lesotho (or even from South Africa) for most of the species discussed, therefore, renewal and development of the resource base should not be too difficult.

Environmental Implications

For many decades, Lesotho has faced enourmous soil losses from agricultural lands, as can be seen from the networks of gullies that scar most of the lowlands and foothills. The steady decline in indigenous vegetation has definitely contributed to this sad state of affairs, which will continue for as long as the country's natural resources are exploited without replacement.

The use of the three NWFP identified as being of most relevance to Lesotho, is unlikely to have any major destructive environmental consequences if sustainable management practices are adhered to. In situations where trees and other vegetation are to be used for forage, unlimited direct browsing by livestock may damage the resource base; similarly, if vegetation planted for the control of soil erosion is harvested, for example for fuelwood, without due regard to its sustainability, then the main purpose for which it is planted will be defeated, and environmental degradation will continue.

It is of the utmost importance therefore, for the people of Lesotho to be careful in their approach to NWFP use, conservation and management, lest the environmental problems they are trying to address become worse.

Problems and Constraints

There are many constraints which have proved time and again to be stumbling-blocks to the promotion and development of natural resources in Lesotho; and as long as these continue to exist, it will be extremely difficult to make any progress in the NWFP sphere in Lesotho. The following are some of the constraints:

- Inadequate social and administrative structures with respect to the management of natural resources;

- Insufficient awareness and understanding among those concerned, of the ecological interactions in the spheres of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and natural resources;

- Shortage of adequately trained manpower. In order for NWFP promotion and development work to proceed without a hitch, it will be necessary to have appropriate manpower for planning guiding and supervising development activities which may also require a broad multidisciplinary approach;

- Unavailability of information and know-how necessary for the introduction of sustainable and economically sound environmental and natural resource management systems; without such information, it is difficult to plan properly.

- Lack of funds to carry out the necessary NWFP promotion and development work. It will be very difficult to introduce new natural resource management systems without a large capital outlay;

- Cultural barriers pose a great problem particularly when the local people have to be convinced of the necessity to introduce drastic new measures, and to abandon practices they have grown accustomed to over the years.

Recommendations

It will be very difficult to find solutions to all the problems related to the promotion and development of NWFP in Lesotho, especially as some of these are of a very complex nature, requiring input from virtually all sectors of the community. However, some steps can be taken towards attaining a solution, and these area as follows:

- Efforts should be made to train, as a matter of urgency, manpower to co-ordinate NWFP promotion and development in-Lesotho; such training should take into consideration the uniqueness and multidisciplinarity of the problem as pertains to Lesotho;

- Although funds are always difficult to come by, especially for redressing problems of an environmental nature, the relevant authorities should make it a priority to set aside adequate funds to cover all aspects of the work to be done, including staff incentives;

- Awareness about the causes and consequences of environmental degradation, and also about appropriate counter-measures must constitute a key element of any action plan intended to prevent further destruction of the natural resource base. It is therefore recommended that in influencing people's attitudes, and hence their actions with regard to natural resources, a well-orchestrated effort be made through schools, higher education institutions, rural extension services, the media, NGO's and international development organizations;

- Involvement of the concerned people must be uppermost in the promotion and development of NWFP, otherwise they might feel that the problem is not theirs, and therefore requires none of their input.

- The people must be kept up-to-date about any new developments regarding NWFP in their areas; this will also tend build trust;

- A detailed database on available NWFP in Lesotho should be set Up; this should encompass all aspects of such NWFP, including their status in the wild, renewability, propagation methods and uses.

- Village nurseries should be established throughout the country to ensure that there is never a shortage of seedlings for the promotion and development of NWFP in Lesotho; such nurseries should be run by the people themselves;

- Finally, the land tenure system must be very clear and unambiguous regarding tree ownership and the use of NWFP.

References

Bonde, K. (1993). Birds of Lesotho. University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg.

Dahlberg, A. (1988). Local institutions and their role in soil conservation: A case study in Maphutseng, Lesotho. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Working Paper 55, Uppsala.

Douglas, J.S. (1978). Alternative foods: A world guide to lesser-known edible plants. Pelham Books, London.

FAO (1986). The dynamics of rural poverty. Rome.

FAO (1990). Utilization of tropical foods: Fruits and leaves. FAO Food and Nutrition Paper No. 47/4, Rome.

Gelfand, M. (1971). Diet and tradition in an African culture. E&S Livingstone, Edinburgh.

Goss, R. (1986). Maberly's mammals of southern Africa: A popular fied guide. Delta, Johannesburg.

Hall, D. and Green, T. (1989). Community forestry in Lesotho: The people's perspective. ODA.

Jacot Guillarmod, A. (1971). Flora of Lesotho. J. Cramer, Lehre.

Kingdom of Lesotho. (1989). National environmental action plan.

Lawry, S. (1986). Livestock and range management in Sehlabathebe: A study of communal resources management. Report prepared for the Land Conservation and Range Development Project of the Range Management Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lesotho.

Palgrave, K.C. (1977). Trees of southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town.

Palmer, E. and Pitman, N. (1972). Trees of southern Africa. A.A. Balkema, Cape Town.

Protection and Preservation Commission. (1983). Lesotho's heritage in jeopardy.

Reader's Digest (1989). Southern African wildlife. Reader's Digest, Cape Town.

Reader's Digest (1992). South African family guide to natural medicine. Reader's Digest, Cape Town.

Schmitz, G. (Ed.) (1984). Lesotho Environment and Management. National University of Lesotho. Roma.

Schmitz, M. (1982). Wild flowers of Lesotho. ESSA, Maseru.

Turner, S.D. (1988). Land and trees in Lesotho. In: Fortmann, L. and Bruce, J.W. (Eds.). Whose trees ?: Proprietary dimensions of forestry. Westview Rural Studies Series.

Wilson, F. and Ramphele, M. (1989). Uprooting poverty: The South African challenge. David Philip, Cape Town.

ANNEX I: Classification of NWFP

CATEGORY OF NON WOOD

PRODUCT FOREST PRODUCTS

IMPORTANCE OF NWFP

Fibre

Agave americana

2

Food (Vegetal)

Peach

1

Apple

2

Pear

1

Apricot

1

Prickly pear

1

Wild berries (Rubus)

1

Rosehips

2

Nuts

3

Wild spinach

1

Food (Faunal)

Honey

2

Bushmeat

2

Fish

1

Non-Food (Faunal)

Animal skins

3

Feathers

3

Cosmetic & Medicinal

Artemisia afra

1

Aloe ferox

2

Protea caffra

2

Acacia karroo

2

Eucomis spp.

2

Euclea spp.

2

Buddleja salviifolia

1

Tarconanthus camphoratus

2

Extractive

Tannin

2

Forage

Livestock fodder

1

Bee forage

2

Wood (handicrafts)

Buddleja salviifolia

2

Olea africana

2

Ornamentals

Amenity

2

Range

Grazing and browse

1

Shade and shelter

2

Soil improvement and protection

Green manure

2

Humus

2

N-fixation

2

Soil stabilization

1

Windbreaks & hedges

2

Parks and reserves

Tourism

1

Conservation

2

Hunting

3

Fishing

2

ANNEX II: Statistical Data on NWFP

PRODUCT

YEAR OF REFERENCE

UNIT

QUANTITY

UNIT PRICE (US$/T)

VALUE (US$ 1000)

Peaches

1992

T

17

N/A

N/A

Apples

1992

T

6.5

N/A

N/A

Pears

1992

T

2.5

N/A

N/A

Apricots

1992

T

5

N/A

N/A

Rosehips

1992

T

12

650

7.8

Legend:

T: Tonne
L: Litre
B: 50 kg bag


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