Mapping of plant and non-plant based forest food resources in Mafinga district using participatory geographic information systems (GPIS).

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Chilende, Edward
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The University of Zambia
Forests play an important role in enhancing food security by providing a diversity of food resources and other food production services for human beings. Despite this critical role that forests play in food systems, especially for developing countries such as Zambia, forests are often sacrificed for other developmental projects and land uses such as infrastructural development, mining and agricultural activities. This problem is worsened by a lack of proper presentation of the spatial distribution of forest food resources on the existing forest maps in Zambia. Thus, hot spots for forest foods such as mushrooms, roots and tubers, honey, wild fruits, insects and wild vegetables are largely ignored and therefore not considered by spatial planners and decision-makers on land use and development strategies. This situation could compromise local and national food security. This study aimed at mapping forest food resources in Mafinga district of Muchinga province in Zambia so that types of forest foods available in the region could be identified, their seasonal availability is known and their spatial distribution could be displayed on the map. The study used Participatory Geographical Information System (PGIS) to ensure that indigenous knowledge was tapped and used in the mapping of forest food resources in three chiefdoms of Mafinga district namely Muyombe, Mwenechifungwe and Mwenewisi chiefdoms. This study firstly identified the availability of the forest food resources; secondly assessed the seasonality of these food resources and thirdly provided input for mapping of food resources in the study area. A total of 144 participants (50 % women and 50% Men) who have lived in the area for more than 10 years was purposively selected for PGIS Mapping. The data collection instrument that was used was an interview guide administered while conducting a transect walk. With the use of a Global Positioning System (GPS) and topographic map, data was also collected. Thereafter, data was analyzed and mapped using ArcMap 10.3. The study identified 48 different types of forest food resources which were categorized into 6 major groups namely fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, roots and tubers, honey and insects. The majority (69%) were wild fruits followed by vegetables with 19%. Tubers and roots as well as mushrooms had 4% each while insects and honey had 2% each. In terms of seasonality, the results show that about 50% of the forest foods are available during the rainy season, 27% of them are available during the dry season, 6% of them are available towards the end of the rainy season and early dry season, 2% are available towards the end of the dry season and early rainy season and about 15% of them are available throughout the year. The participatory mapping showed that most of the forest food resources in Mafinga district are found in Tukuta forest reserve, Kapembe forest, Wimba woodland, Chapeluka forest reserve, Mayowa watershed and Chimung’onto forest reserve. The study concluded that participatory mapping is an essential tool for inclusive development and land use planning that can enhance the recognition of forest food resources in a region. Key words: Participatory GIS, Forest Food Resources, Food Systems, Spatial Planning.
Wild plants--Edible foods , Forest policy--Zambia. , Forests and forestry--Zambia.