The Sustainable Use and Concervation of Biodiversity in Zambia: A Review of the Forestry Sector

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Shauma, Groy
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The University of Zambia
In Zambia more than 60 percent of the land is forest. The forests provide vital products for rural and urban dwellers, such as fuel wood, timber for construction and food. Generally forests provide shelter for animals and promote biological diversity conservation. Deforestation is mainly caused by uncontrolled forest product exploitation, illegal settlements, encroachment, clearing land for agricultural purposes and bush fires. This has brought about the need to restructure the forestry and related departments and also to reform both the law and policies in light of the current emerging consumption trends and land use practices that are unsustainable. Currently the Zambian Forestry Sector faces increasingly difficult challenges. The most obvious being the growing demand for forest products (especially fuel wood), Environmental services, the conservation of biological diversity, mitigation of global climate changes, protection from desertification and protection of soil and water resources, demands for achieving more equitable distribution of benefits from forests, for safeguarding the rights of local communities (forest dwellers), and for ensuring widespread participation in decision making related to forest management has added to the complexity and challenge of forest management and policy making today. Although Zambia has at least 19 pieces of legislation and a number of policies related to biodiversity in Zambia, the principal Act that governs the forest sector is the Forestry Act Number 39 of 1973. However, this Act emphasis on the "policing" sole of the forestry Department and the exclusion and restriction of local communities in forest management. Furthermore this Act took away all private ownership rights of trees, even where title to land was held. In response to this the government has made a new forest policy that has the objective of ensuring rational and sustainable protection, management, production and utilization of forest resources. It recognizes the need for employing broad-based and participatory approaches to forest sector development. In addition the Zambian government has also enacted a new Forest Act of 1999 which contains salient provisions which addresses most of the challenging environmental issues. However this Act is still non operational citing financial, legal and administrative huddles. Also the government has ratified various International Environmental Instruments and also has made a global commitment to conserve natural resources as can committed to come up with various initiatives to promote conservation and sustainable use of forest resources, especially in this day and age of the growing threat of global warming and climate change.
Biodiversity conservation--Law and legislation--Zambia