Фонд поддержки лесных и фермерских хозяйств

Zambian Community Takes Action to Preserve Forests and Improve Livelihoods Through Community Forest Management

In Zambia's Eastern Province lies the Nyimba district, home to a diverse array of land-use demands, ranging from agriculture to forestry, all competing for the same space. However, the communities of Nyimba have a unique relationship with the forests surrounding them. For generations, they have relied on the forests as a source of livelihood, collecting medicinal plants, hunting, and gathering firewood. Yet, unsustainable practices and human encroachment have led to the decline of this once-thriving forest, negatively impacting the people's livelihoods. 

The Nyimba District Farers Association (NDFA), with support from the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), has worked with communities in the Nyimba district to form Community Forest Management Groups (CFMGs). Msima, Nkasako, and Kaselekete in Chief Ndake's area are among the communities in Nyimba districts at the forefront of this initiative. 

Collaborating with the Forest Department, the NDFA organized awareness sessions in Nyimba focused on community forestry, emphasizing the crucial involvement of forest and farm producer organizations. Subsequently, the Nyimba District Farmers Association and the Forest Department actively participated in the FAO-supported Climate Change Adaptation project within the Forest and Agriculture mosaic landscape implemented by WWF. This engagement aimed to bolster awareness and understanding of community forest management.

The power of community

Recognizing the importance of protecting their valuable natural resources, the community members in the three villages came together and formed a Community Forest Management Committee (CFMC). This committee comprised elders, young individuals, and representatives from different households who all shared the common goal of safeguarding the forest's future. They took responsibility for implementing sustainable practices that would benefit both the forest and their livelihoods.

The committee started by conducting a comprehensive forest survey, mapping its boundaries, and identifying areas needing urgent attention. They held regular meetings where every community member was encouraged to participate and share their ideas. In consultation with experts from the forest department and other stakeholder experts, they developed a management plan to promote sustainable resource use, conservation, and income generation. After the CFMC meetings, three areas were identified for CFM in Chief Ndake's region: Msima, Kaselekete, and Nkasako.

With the support of NDFA, the Forestry Department granted the community the license for the first-ever community-managed forest in Chief Ndake's area. After the recognition of the CFM, the committees immediately established designated zones within the forest. They demarcated areas for sustainable logging, ensuring that only a limited number of trees were harvested each year, and implemented strict measures to prevent illegal logging. Furthermore, they created protected areas where hunting and gathering were prohibited, aimed at allowing wildlife populations to recover and flourish.

Conservation and income diversification

The community sought to diversify their income sources while reducing pressure on the forest. They turned to sustainable eco-tourism, built nature trails and eco-lodges, and organized guided tours showcasing the forest's beauty and biodiversity. The revenue generated from these initiatives was reinvested into conservation efforts and distributed among the community members, providing them with a stable and sustainable source of income. Community forestry has further provided community rights to forest areas and increased their capacity to engage in carbon trading schemes as a potential income-generating activity from forest management.

Due to their exceptional efforts, the government and various non-governmental organizations have recognized community forest management as a successful model for Zambia's forest landscapes. They provided financial support and technical assistance to enhance the community's capacity for forest management. Ndake Chiefdom became a hub for learning and exchange, hosting study visits and training programs for other communities interested in implementing similar initiatives.

The people of Ndake were able to protect their forests and improve their lives by working together and utilizing community forest management. By becoming stewards of the environment and embracing their cultural heritage, they were able to diversify their income sources and improve their overall well-being. Their success story is a testament to the transformative impact of recognizing the importance of community forest management.