Earlier this month, the World Bank approved a new $33 million project, funded in part by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), to improve sustainable rural livelihoods and forest protection in Zambia.
Clearing forests for agriculture, charcoal and fuelwood production, are among the country’s main drivers of deforestation. Other factors that contribute to the problem include inadequate support for land use planning, poor agricultural and forestry resources management practices, untapped alternative livelihood options, and poor market access for marketable commodities and cash crops to farmers. Across the country, more frequent and intense droughts and floods have led to food, water and energy insecurity, especially among vulnerable rural communities.
To address these urgent challenges, the Integrated Forest Landscape project seeks to improve sustainable land management, diversify livelihoods options available to rural commodities, and reduce deforestation in the country’s Eastern Province, where the majority of the 1.7 million population lives in rural areas and depends on agriculture, forests, and wildlife in order to survive.
An estimated 215,000 people will benefit directly from this program, and of these, at least 30 percent will be women. Key beneficiaries are rural communities in the Eastern Province’s nine districts, namely Chadiza, Chipata, Katete, Lundazi, Mambwe, Nyimba, Petauke, Sinda, and Vubwi.
The project will work with local institutions to improve land tenure security and land-use planning. On-the-ground activities will focus on enhancing agro-ecosystem resilience and improving community forestry management, among others. This will include working with farmers to improve soil fertility management, and engaging agribusiness to enhance market access for smallholder farmers.
The project area includes 5 million hectares of tropical miombo forests and grasslands, which are home to globally significant biodiversity. This includes the Luangwa Valley, abundant with wildlife and water resources, and the Lukusuzi and Luambe National Parks that have significant revenue potential. The project will support these parks through investments in infrastructure for park management and ecotourism, including equipment for monitoring the park and enforcement of regulations, including for poaching.
“Increasing protected management effectiveness and enhancing the living conditions of the local communities, are two of the most critical conditions for the conservation areas to build an economy based on wildlife-based tourism”, said Jaime Cavelier, Senior Biodiversity Specialist, GEF.
Funds for the project include $17 million from the World Bank International Development Association, $8 million from the GEF, and $8 million from the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (ISFL).
The Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape project has been designed to align with the country's broader development agenda, Vision 2030. This agenda includes goals for reducing deforestation and improving agricultural practices, particularly for farmers in the Eastern Province. The project will also inform Zambia’s national strategy for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), and will serve as a pilot for jurisdictional REDD+ adaptation, replication and expansion throughout Zambia. The program will provide overall guidance on actions to be undertaken in key sectors such as agriculture and energy.
March 21st marks the International Day of Forests 2018.
This article is based on an original story published by the World Bank.