FAO and the GEF

Partnering for Sustainable Agriculture and the Environment

A cross-sector approach supporting the mainstreaming of sustainable forest and land management to enhance ecosystem resilience for improved livelihoods in the Save and Runde Catchments of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has abundant land, a large amount of underground and surface water resources, and rich flora and fauna that enable the country to grow a wide range of crops supporting agricultural and pastoral livelihoods and industries. Despite the country’s abundant natural resources, poverty affects over two thirds of rural households with a high prevalence of subsistence livelihoods heavily dependent on natural resources. The Save and Runde basins in Zimbabwe, located in the Miombo woodlands, suffer high levels of land degradation due to the expansion of agriculture, charcoal production, overgrazing, fires and illegal mining, which are exacerbated by are rapid population growth and climate change.

The objective of the project is to promote the sustainable management of Miombo and Mopane production landscapes in Save and Runde sub-basins following a land degradation neutrality (LDN) approach. The project interventions will be implemented in eight districts – including Chivi and Chipinge districts identified as LDN hotspots – of three provinces of Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands.

The project is divided into three components:

  • Component 1: Strengthening the enabling environment for the integrated management of natural resources at the national and landscape levels. The project will establish the enabling environment (necessary structure, processes and targeted capacity building) for the envisaged integrated and participatory landscape assessment and planning at national and landscape level. This will result in the development of two Integrated Land-Use Plans (ILUPs) and their action plans to guide LDN activities in Save and Runde 
  • Component 2: Demonstrating, implementing, and scaling up and out SLM and SFM good practices in Save and Runde basins. The project will implement and scale up and out the selected SLM and SFM interventions in the targeted landscapes – based on the ILUPs and Action Plans developed under Component 1 – to address land degradation issues and support increased agricultural, pastoral and forest productivity. The sustainability of the SLM and SFM interventions will be secured by supporting the targeted Forest and Farm Producer Organisations (FFPOs) in the development of viable business plans that are targeting “baskets” of diverse crop, rangeland and forest products and corresponding business incubation services.
  • Component 3: Strengthening Knowledge Management, Monitoring and Collaboration for addressing SLM/SFM at landscape, national, regional and global levels. The knowledge and experience generated under the GEF7 project on SLM and SFM practices and on the implementation of an LDN approach in Zimbabwe will be shared as widely as possible to promote a holistic approach to combating land degradation in Miombo and Mopane ecoregion. This includes cross-sectoral knowledge sharing at the national level in support of integrated land-use planning, and at the regional level with support from the Regional knowledge management Exchange Mechanism of the Global Coordination Project and in close collaboration with existing regional knowledge platforms (e.g. Southern African Development Community Great Green Wall Initiative – SADC GGWI, Miombo Network). 

The project will build on the experience and lessons learned of, and ensure close collaboration with, ongoing and planned initiatives by organizations including the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), FAO, SADC, Government of Zimbabwe, Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM), and NGOs such as CTDT and World Vision.

Project’s Target Contributions to GEF-7 Core Indicators

Project Core Indicators

Expected Results


Area of land restored (Hectares)

2 150


Area of landscapes under improved practices (excluding protected areas)(Hectares)

1 046 713


Total area under improved management (Hectares)

1 046 713


Greenhouse Gas Emissions Mitigated (metric tons of CO2e)  

1 257 525


Number of direct beneficiaries disaggregated by gender as co-benefit of GEF investment

15 000 (including 52% of women)

The project will contribute to UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework Strategic Objective 1: improve the condition of affected ecosystems, combat desertification/land degradation, promote sustainable land management and contribute to land degradation neutrality; as well as to achieving Zimbabwe’s voluntary Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets  that were defined. The project will contribute more particularly to achieve the following targets: 

National targets: 

  • Improve land cover of forest, wetlands, shrubs, grasslands and sparsely vegetated areas by 70% by 2030 compared to 2008
  • LDN achieved by 2030 compared to 2008 and an additional 10% (3 905 700 ha) of the country’s total land area has been improved (net gain).
  • Reforestation with local species on 6 455 250 ha of forest converted to shrubs and on 215 050 ha of forest converted to cropland
  • Use conservation farming and agro-forestry practices to improve cropland productivity on 361 250 ha of cropland showing stable but stressed productivity and early signs of decline.
  • Embark on land/catchment reclamation/restoration on 5 580 ha of grazing and cropland affected by gully erosion. Enforce laws and regulations, embark on awareness programmes targeting illegal miners and rehabilitate 3 798.60 ha affected by illegal mining.
  • Reduce the 8 857.92 ha of land affected by alien species through chemical and mechanical control methods.
  • Provide alternatives such as rural electrification, renewable energy sources, expand energy for tobacco programme, provide sustainable fencing materials for fencing arable lands and for brick burning, enforce regulations on tree cutting for fuel wood sale and reduce deforestation to protect 297 000 hectares of forest land.
  • Enforce construction of conservation works, encourage conservation agriculture and build capacity for farmers to improve 1 083 825 ha of degraded arable lands.

Sub-national target: 

  • LDN is achieved in the land degradation hotspot in Mhondoro, Chivi, Shamva, Hwange, Umzingwane, Chipinge and Zvishavane districts by 2030 as compared to 2008 and additional 15% of degraded hotspots districts has improved (net gain).

The project will contribute to multiple Aichi Biodiversity targets, particularly to:

  • Target 4: By 2020, at the latest, Governments, business and stakeholders at all levels have taken steps to achieve or have implemented plans for sustainable production and consumption and have kept the impacts of use of natural resources well within safe ecological limits.
  • Target 5: By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced.
  • Target 7: By 2020 areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity.
  • Target 14: By 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities, and the poor and vulnerable.
  • Target 15: By 2020, ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks has been enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification.
  • It will also contribute to targets 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 11, 13, 16, 18, 19.

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