Zambia: Creating a wildlife corridor
The Luangwa Community Forests Project
Zambia is known for its impressive natural wonders and diverse wildlife. As a country considered to be among the safest on the continent, Zambia is therefore a popular tourist destination for experiencing the best of Africa‘s environment. Unfortunately though, Zambia loses around 300,000 Ha of its forests every year. This land is around four times the size of New York City and therefore the number of available habitats for such wildlife is rapidly dwindling. Deforestation is a big problem in the country and has worsened in recent years following the country falling into a power crisis in summer 2015.
As 95% of Zambia‘s electricity is generated by hydropower, a dry season can be catastrophic. In 2014-15, rainfall was less than 50% average measurements. Since then, unemployment has risen and many people are returning to traditional cooking and lighting methods. This puts a further pressure on local forests. Furthermore, the increased unemployment hightens the risk of locals turning to illegal logging or ivory poaching to generate income. Without protection and sustainable management, Zambia‘s forests will continue to deteriorate.
The Luangwa Community Forests Redd+ Project, covers a total of 766,000 ha of forest land in its first phase with the aim to cover around 3 million Ha in the second phase. The aim of the project is to solve and reduce the causes of deforestation rather than simply prohibit it. These drivers are predominantly poverty, unsustainable incomes, poor services and lack of education about the environment. The project therefore works alongside communities, supporting local infrastructure, schools and employing locals so that those nearby can benefit from conservation. The project also includes sapling nurseries to start rebuilding forest cover and has established an eco-charcoal project which aims to provide sustainable fuel to the capital. By linking small, rural communities to the government and local markets, the project significantly mitigates the drivers of deforestation.
Climate change is having a major impact in Zambia. Persistent drought in connection with shorter but heavy rains threaten the livelihoods of the population. More than 60 percent of the people live in rural areas and work, mostly for self-sufficiency, in agriculture. The main source of income for the Zambian population is agriculture. However, the ongoing deforestation and destruction of the natural environment are increasingly threatening their livelihoods. In recent years, poor harvests and poor yields have plunged many families into poverty. They lead to increasing food insecurity in the country. Fifty-eight percent of the population is extremely poor and 40 percent of children suffer from diet-related underdevelopment.