A study of some human impacts on indegenous woody vegetation in a part of the Luangwa Districts of Zambia

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Mulenga, Mark Chonzi
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A study site in the Luangwa district, south-eastern part of Lusaka Province was used for an investigation of the impact of human activities on indigenous woody vegetation.Evidence obtained from the review of literature and initial field reconnaissance suggested that the observed changes and variations in woody plant communities was directly or indirectly related to human activities rather than natural changes or differences in topography.Woody vegetation changes as a result of the varied human activities which identified from the review of relevant literature, aerial photographs, topographical maps and field reconnaissance undertaken in August 1981. During the period December 1981 and January 1982, the impact of the varied human activities on indigenous woody vegetation was investigated in the field. Since it was not possible to examine the indigenous woody vegetation in the entire study area due to time limitations five sample quadrats were examined for each identified major activity.The vegetation in each selected quadrat was examined in terms of species composition, structural damage as a result of the activity under consideration and the number of individuals in different size groups.This information was supplemented by that which was obtained from a selected number of households. Information from the 50 households was obtained through questioning and discussions and measurements were taken wherever possible.The human activities which were considered included; cultivation, fuel wood collection, bush burning, timber exploitation for building purposes and grazing and browsing of domesticated animal Measures were taken whenever possible to estimate quantitatively the total cleared area or corresponding clear-felled area as a result of the varied human activities. The result obtained showed that the varied human activities have led to a gradual transformation of the indigenous woody vegetation. Some of the above listed activities especially charcoal burning and arable agriculture have altered the woody vegetation of the affected areas through continuous clear-cutting.The study also revealed that the study area is experiencing a steadily increasing rural population. This increase in human population is placing more pressure on the woodland due to increase demand for arable land and woodland resources. Thus vegetation degradation has started in most parts of the study area where people have gathered in large groups to form villages. It must however be noted that, the little evidence gathered from the study suggest that vegetation destruction appears to have originated from a recent history of regressive changes which have continued to the present day.Most of the changes in indigenous woody vegetation can be considered to be related to population increases since areas where population is high the demand for woody resources such as fuelwood and polewood is high and generally appears to exceed local supplie Generally, it can be postulated that the study area as a whole is still underpopulated in the sense of having a small population in relation to the present utilization of woody resources. It must also be noted that in areas where human activities have stopped vegetation regrowth is taking place. However such areas are few
Deforestation---Zambia , Forest---Depletion