Forest cover change and its effects on the dependent local communities in Masese local forest reserve Sesheke district

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Banda, Mahonko Arnold
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The University of Zambia
Forest play a number of functions such as the provision of wood for timber and fuel, building materials, household implements, wild food, herbal medicines and many others to many rural communities in Zambia including Sesheke District. Forest also provides a wide range of services such as prevention of soil erosion and regulation of climate. Forest cover change has adverse implications on the provision of wood and non-wood forest products to the dependent local communities. This study investigated forest cover change and its effects on the livelihoods of dependent local communities in MLFR. The objectives of the study were to establish the occurrence of forest cover change in MLFR; to determine the extent of forest cover change from 1990 to 2005; to identify the tree species that have been affected by forest cover change; and to assess the effects of forest cover change on the livelihoods of the dependent local communities. The study used a combination of primary and secondary data. Primary data were collected using interview schedule and field observations for the collection of information on the effects of forest cover change on dependent local communities living within the vicinity of MLFR. The data were collected from Maondo and Mulimambango wards and the sample was proportionally and randomly selected. Secondary data were obtained from archival sources (published and unpublished). These included scenes of landsat images for the years 1990, 2005 and 2005 that were used to establish forest cover change occurrence, extent of forest cover change and tree species that have been affected by forest cover change in MLFR. To analyse the landsat images, the images were classified and then imported into ArcGis 9.3 to map and determine the annual LUFCC (reduced or increased area cover). The study established that there is forest cover change in MLFR at an average rate of 440.20ha per year or 0.065 percent per year between 1990 and 2005. In 1990 the forested area was estimated at 43,544.68ha and reduced to 36941.61ha in 2005 0r 61.9 percent of the total forest reserve land area of 59,689ha. The extent of forest cover change was estimated at 6.603.07ha equivalent to 15.16 percent for the 15 years period between 1990 and 2005. Baikiaea forest and Kalahari woodlands are the types of vegetation that have been adversely affected by forest cover change. The major tree species that have been affected are Baikiaea plurijuga, Pterocarpus mantunesii and rose wood because of their widely usage commercially and domestically purposes. The product moment correlation coefficient was used to measure the degree of association between distance and amount of firewood used; and distance and amount of money spent buying building materials. The study revealed that there was significant correlation between: (i) distance covered to collect firewood and amount of firewood used per household at a correlation of 0.276 at 0.01 significance level; and (ii) distance covered to fetch building materials and amount of money spent to buy building materials per household at a correlation of 0.213 at 0.05 significance level. Therefore, forest cover change in MLFR has made local communities suffer in terms of shortage of wood products (timber, fuel wood and wood for making household implements) and non-wood products such as wild food, mushroom, medicines, etc., such that they cover long distances to collect these forest products or spend more money buying them. There is therefore need to formulate new policies that will aim at improving forest management that should also include tree planting in order to reduce the current forest cover change rate in MLFR and embark on alternative forest use to improve the livelihoods of dependent local communities.
Forest management--Zambia , Climate change -- Zambia