Deforestation in Mwekera National Forest No.6 : A n Ethical Evaluation
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This study is about an ethical evaluation of deforestation in Mwekera National Forest No. 6. The objectives of the study were: to investigate why deforestation is still going on in the Mwekera National Forest No. 6 even though the Forest Policy and Forest Act are in force; to investigate to what extent the local people have been involved in the formulation of the forest policy; to investigate the effects of deforestation on the natural environment and its inhabitants; and to make an ethical evaluation followed by suggestions as to how Mwekera National Forest No. 6 should be better managed in order to control the high rate of deforestation going on. This was done through a qualitative approach employing in-depth interviews with focal persons, focus group discussion and physical observations on the forest. The target groups included the local people living in and around Mwekera National Forest No. 6, the Forest Department staff and the Zambia Forestry College staff. The ethical analysis combined relevant traditional ethical theories such as Deontology, Consequentialism, Rights Theory, Value Theory and John Rawls Theory of Justice in addition to the following environmental ethical theories: the Land Ethic, Deep Ecology, Social Ecology and Environmental Justice. The causes of deforestation were found to be poverty, political influence, non-involvement of the local people in forest policy formulation and implementation, lack of appreciation of natural values, unemployment due to privatisation of the mines in 1990 and the removal of subsidies from farming inputs and electricity. These had adverse effects on the natural environment which include the following: siltation of the dam and stream due to soil erosion, poor water quality supply to Mwekera community, reduced quantities of non-wood forest products being collected from the forest, loss of biodiversity, habitat destruction for wild animals, loss of cultural sites and effects on climate. An ethical evaluation revealed that in addition to the use value of the forest to humans, there is need for people to value nature in itself and learn to live in harmony with it. As a forest is an ecosystem, there is competition and co-operation between its diverse parts and, if this relationship is disturbed, the effects are diverse. This means that human beings have an ecological duty to seek to preserve the integrity and balance of the biotic community and to restore it where it has been degraded by human activity. The recommendations made to better manage the forest are as follows: the government should involve the local people in the management of the forest; the government should consider the norms, values and assumptions that local people possess regarding the conservation of forests and other natural resources; there is need to include environmental ethics in the forestry training curriculum, especially in forestry extension; government should create more jobs so that the squatters in MNF can be employed; and eco-tourism should be introduced in MNF so that the local people can benefit financially and, at the same time, protect the forest.