The impact of urban growth on indigenous woody vegetation in Kasama town and its environs, Zambia

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chileshe, Benard
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Zambia experiences an annual woodland loss of 0.5 percent. Much of this is from areas around urban areas. Woodland loss may lead to both environmental and socio-economic problems. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of the growth of Kasama on the surrounding indigenous woodlands and the effect of the subsequent deforestation in the area on the socio-economic welfare of the residents of Kasama and the ecology of the area. This study is important because it ventures into two rather neglected aspects of urbanization in Zambia. It diverts attention from concentration on the large settlements of Lusaka and those on the Copperbelt to smaller towns. It also broadens the perspective of study to consider both the socio-economic and the environmental impacts of urbanization. The study made use of time series panchromatic air photographs and various types of maps to draw land-cover maps. A questionnaire and an interview guide were used to collect the data pertaining to respondents' participation in peri-urban cultivation and consumption of woodfuel. The data were analysed using percentages, means, and frequency distributions. They were represented graphically using tables, graphs and maps. The chi-square test was done to determine if there is a significant difference in the types of fuel used by the respondents for cooking and heating. The t-test was done to determine if there is any significant difference in the mean monthly incomes of those respondents using woodfuel and those using electricity. The study established that deforestation is widespread in Kasama. The unprotected indigenous woodlands declined from 7 606 hectares in 1963 to 2 436 hectares in 1991, a loss of 68 percent. This has transformed the miombo woodland landscape of the area into either tree-less or scantly vegetated. This has led to an increase in erosion in the area. The removal of the indigenous woody vegetation has also contributed to the rise in the price of woodfuel. The residents have to spend about 28 percent of their income on acquiring it.
Deforestation -- Kasama , Woodlands -- Kasama