Poor access to seedlings hampering Zambian efforts to curb deforestation

Zambia’s efforts to curb deforestation are being hampered by poor access to seedlings, says a survey by Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAF).

PSAF Executive Director Lillian Kiefer said communities affected by deforestation don’t have access to seedlings of indigenous and exotic species to enable them to fight rapid deforestation.

“Following training, communities have embarked on re-forestation to reclaim the depleted environment. However, their efforts have hit a snag as most communities don’t have access to seedlings,” Kiefer said.

More than 60% of Zambia’s 13 million rural residents depend on charcoal as their principal energy source, while urban residents also use charcoal as part of their energy mix. This makes Zambia one of the largest fuel wood users in Africa.

Data by the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) shows Zambia is losing forests at a rate of 250 000 hectares per year. The country has more than 44 million hectares of forestry. Kiefer said a massive amount of tree planting is needed to curb deforestation.

“The natural forest is shrinking very fast, and there is a need to urgently address the need for sufficient seedlings for transplanting,” she said. PSAF further recommends that nurseries be decentralised and allowing communities a stake in the forest products within their areas.

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