· Zambia is at the heart of the Miombo ecoregion covering more than 40% of Zambia’s forestry cover while 34% falls under protected area systems.
· According to Integrated Land Use Assessment (ILUA, 2008), the country loses its forest cover a rate of between 250,000 and 300,000 hectares a year due to a combination of factors clearing forests for agriculture and settlements, charcoal and wood fuel, encroachment into forest estates and illegal logging.
· Zambia has developed a communication strategy whose main objective is to enhance effective and comprehensive National Communication for the Forest Sector that would contribute to raising the profile of the forest sector for national sustainable development.
Presentation to the Bagamoya Convention 2012
Communicating Miombo Conservation, a Case of Sustainable Forestry Management and Communication by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Zambia.
Cephas Moonga Senior Communication & Market Officer, WWF Zambia
The Miombo woodlands are one of the 35 priority places under WWF’s Global Programme Framework. Sixty-five million people currently inhabit the Miombo ecoregion across parts of ten countries such as Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Zambia is at the heart of the Miombo ecoregion covering more than 40% of Zambia’s forestry cover while 34% falls under protected area systems. The Miombo woodlands are an integral part of WWF Zambia’s priority intervention areas to conserve Zambia’s biodiversity. This is because the Miombo ecoregion apart from being home to the majority of Zambia’s population provides a natural habitat for WWF’s flagship species such as Zambezi teak woodlands, the African elephant, black rhino, African wild dog including various bird and plant species.
The Miombo woodlands in Zambia face a major threat of deforestation through human activities such as mining, agriculture, unsustainable farming methods (e.g. shifting cultivation), charcoal burning, bush fires and human settlements in protected areas due to population increase. Though poverty is often cited as a key driver of deforestation, lack of political will to enact and enforce existing policies that support sustainable forestry management by communities in Zambia presents a challenge in forestry conservation. Further, statutory agencies mandated to implement available policy legislation such as the Forestry Department, Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), Zambia Environmental Management Authority (ZEMA) and National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC) face various challenges such as inadequate funding from the central government. This erodes these institutions’ capacity to enforce existing laws on protected areas.
International conservation organisations such as WWF play a key role in building capacity for local institutions and civil society organisations to fill the existing gaps in the conservation sector. Communicating Miombo conservation provides a case for sharing challenges, successes and solutions for sustainable forest management in Zambia by WWF.
Forestry Communication in Zambia: a Case of Miombo Forestry Conservation
WWF’s communication process with stakeholders is guided by the organisation’s mission, brand and communications guidelines which are anchored on WWF’s values. WWF brand values include Knowledgeable, Optimistic, Determined and Engaging (KODE). The communication approaches differ depending on targeted audiences/stakeholders and the situation.
WWF communicates with communities in project intervention areas such as Miombo ecoregion, Mufunta Game Management Area using the participatory media approach such as meetings, training sessions, community radio, opinion leaders and traditional authorities.
Using traditional structures and Community Based Organisations (CBOs), WWF Zambia engages communities through the Community Based Natural Resources Management Forum (CBNRM) and other projects such as Miombo Ecoregion Project to engage communities to take ownership in managing resources within their locality for their own benefit.
Through such participatory media, communities are taught sustainable forestry management and conservation. CBNRM engagement with CBOs provides a platform for communicating forestry conservation issues such as conservation farming and promoting alternative income generating activities that have a direct link to conservation.
Communication using mainstream media channels (Radio, Newspapers and television) at national level is used to communicate successful conservation initiatives in selected project intervention areas. Media visits are organized for journalists for press publicity.
The challenge however is that, even when media visits are organised, there is no guarantee that the stories will be published as the Zambian media concentrates much on politics at the expense of social issues like environment and conservation. Though Journalists assure that stories would be written, they are either relegated as fillers or fall off the media agenda completely in preference for political stories deemed more important by their editors.
While participating on commemorative events such as World Forestry Day, World Environment Day, Earth Hour provides an opportunity for free publicity on environment and conservation issues, without a politician officiating on such occasions, you hardly get publicity from the mainstream media. This makes communicating conservation and environmental issues using mass media very expensive in Zambia. Successful cases of community based natural resources management and conservation initiatives if publicized provide an opportunity for educating other communities not covered by projects to replicate such initiatives at a national level.
WWF’s Miombo Ecoregion project on sustainable forestry management in Mpika District in Northern Province provides a case study of challenges, successes and solutions to forestry communication and conservation. The area was selected because of widespread use of shifting cultivation methods locally known as Chitemene (slush and burn), a traditional system of agriculture which has been a key driver of deforestation.
An assessment study carried out in an attempt to address the challenge identified soil fertility as an intervening variable of this practice while a relationship was established between the communities that practice this system of agriculture and access to credit facilities for inorganic fertilizer purchase by farmers. To address this challenge the project is now promoting soil improvement technologies that are within farmers’ reach such use of compost manure and conservation farming.
The other challenge for addressing charcoal burning is the energy deficit. While rural poor communities provide the supply side, the urban majority constitute the demand side due to lack of access to electricity. Rural communities do not use charcoal for energy but fire wood. The urban population provides a market for charcoal from rural areas.
The majority of the people in Zambia have no access to electricity while those that have access are subjected to constant black outs by the power utility company Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO). When households with electricity fall back on charcoal as an alternative source of energy, this increases the demand for the commodity. This presents a challenge in communicating forestry conservation in Zambia and addressing the issue of deforestation without realistic alternative forms of energy.
Zambia made it in a presentation entitled ‘The Zambia We Want’ to the Rio +20 in Brazil that clearance of indigenous forests to pave way for exotic plantations for biofuels production in the country will not be supported. WWF Zambia has been instrumental in communicating sustainable forestry conservation through campaigns such as Earth Hour where individual households are educated to conserve energy (electricity, firewood, charcoal).
Energy saving initiatives such as switching off non- essential lights in the wake of black outs, fast cooking methods for foods such as beans and dried fish which take long to cook are communicated to educate the people on energy conservation. Other income generating activities such as beekeeping and fish farming are promoted by WWF as opposed to charcoal burning. CBOs are encouraged to initiate bee keeping projects in order to promote forestry conservation. The major challenge has been finding a sustainable market for honey and fluctuating honey harvests as a result of seasonal changes due to climate change.
Forestry Communication in Zambia Strengths, Challenges and Possible Interventions
The value of forests to life in Zambia, and the potential benefits and solutions they promise to bring to our increasingly natural resource dependent country, are enormous. Forests play a key role in the national development agenda of the country as they contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while providing a source of livelihood for a great proportion of the Zambian population.
Forests help to support terrestrial life, stabilize the climate and ecosystems and provide wood and non-wood forest products for various uses. However, Zambia’s forests are under threat due to the high levels of deforestation and degradation in the country. According to Integrated Land Use Assessment (ILUA, 2008), the country loses its forest cover a rate of between 250,000 and 300,000 hectares a year due to a combination of factors clearing forests for agriculture and settlements, charcoal and wood fuel, encroachment into forest estates and illegal logging. These factors are exacerbated by the high poverty levels coupled with the lack of understanding and appreciation of the value of the forest resources by the many stakeholders in the sector.
Ultimately, there is need for those that have been charged with the responsibility of facilitating the management of Zambia’s vast forest estate to sensitize the masses on why forests are relevant to modern life, and how everyone should play a role towards sustainable forest management and utilization at national and local levels.
Strengths in Forestry Communication
· Increased public access to up to date information on the status and value of the forest resource in order to achieve better informed decisions on matters relevant to forests and forestry.
· Increases the general understanding within key target audiences that forests are vital to life in Zambia and must be managed sustainably when utilized.
· Raises awareness of the benefits of forests in Zambia and also of the threats and challenges they face, especially from deforestation and forest degradation.
· Promotes the use of sustainably produced and utilized wood and other forest products as climate friendly materials and renewable energy sources, especially as they relate to environmental support mechanisms.
· Enhances public participation that brings a sense of responsibility for the environment.
· Brings to decision makers a balance between economic development and environmental sustainability.
· Helps close the gap between public perception and the true facts regarding the value of forests and forestry in Zambia.
· Enhances collaboration amongst all key players in forestry and forest issues.
· Helps people appreciate that sustainably managed forests provide oxygen, sequester carbon, preserve biodiversity, provide wood and non wood forest products, create jobs and provide opportunities for recreation and many other goods and services.
Challenges in Forestry Communication
· Environmental and climate change issues have not been fully mainstreamed into other sector policies, programmes and plans.
· Inadequate financial resources coupled with unpredictable flow of resources to carter for dissemination, awareness raising and publicity on forest related issues.
· Weak information management, monitoring and evaluation systems.
· Weak collaboration among the various actors in the forest sector.
· Limited public awareness regarding national and global environmental concerns and hence the limited public participation and stewardship.
· Inadequate incentives in macro-economic policies to entice especially poor people who ultimately depend on the forest for their livelihoods.
· The high prevalence rates of poverty.
· Lack of or insufficient political will.
Zambia has developed a communication strategy whose main objective is to enhance effective and comprehensive National Communication for the Forest Sector that would contribute to raising the profile of the forest sector for national sustainable development.
The communication strategy will provide a coordinated and concerted approach for transmitting key messages to the various target audiences such as decision makers, advocacy groups, private sector, international agencies, traditional authorities, local communities, and the general public.
Key messages shall be:
· Value of forests in socio-economic development
· Forests for carbon trading and for climate change mitigation
· Green house gas emission from forests fires
· Deforestation and forest degradation
· Electronic Media – Information sharing through web-based interactions; cell messaging system
· Print Media – magazines, newspapers, newsletters and periodicals