· In Zimbabwe, Communication of Forestry messages/information is done using a combination of the following tools: Publications and other print materials, radio and TV products (Public service broadcasts and videos), Events (special days, awards, exhibitions, training and workshops), Forestry education, Forestry Extension, Media Relations and Internet.
· Government provides advisory services on Forestry to members of the public through an extension programme.
· Forestry and general natural resources management information is communicated to members of the public through radio and television programmes.
· Forestry institutions provide Foresters with basic knowledge for use in communicating Forestry messages and information.
· Government, the private sector and Non-Governmental Organisations create awareness and educate the public about caring for the environment.
· Exotic forest plantations cover 110,000 hectares of land. These forests are of great commercial importance and produce a range of timber-based products for the domestic and export markets. Indigenous forests and woodlands cover approximately 10 million hectares and provide rural households among other things, supplies of construction timber and fuel-wood and source of various needs for human livelihoods.
· There are programmes that are being launched on National Television and Radio, newspapers and brochures towards the conservation of forests, unplanned fires and wildlife conservation.
· Forest biodiversity conservation in Zimbabwe is done both in-situ and ex-situ. About 15% of the country’s land area was set aside forthe in-situ and ex-situ conservation of forest biodiversity including wildlife.
Presentation to the Bagamoya Convention 2012
Background and Introduction
Forestry in Zimbabwe has been in existence since the early 1900’s when it was then under the Ministry of Agriculture. The current Forestry Commission was established in 1954 and its mandate is to regulate the Forestry sector as well as provide Forestry advisory services and information dissemination to various stakeholders.
This paper highlights forestry communication in Zimbabwe. Specifically what the country has done and is doing, challenges and possible solutions for effective communication to take place.
Forestry Communication in Zimbabwe
In Zimbabwe, Communication of Forestry messages/information is done using a combination of the following tools:
Publications and other print materials
During the period up to 1985, the Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe published papers and bulletins on Forestry research, which formed part of the repository of knowledge generated from the organisation’s research work. The bulletins cover various aspects of Forestry and are useful for students studying Forestry in colleges and universities. The bulletins are also used as reference material by practicing Foresters. Other print materials are magazines, posters, brochures, banners, pamphlets, fliers, stickers T Shirts and hats.
Electronic: radio and TV products (Public service broadcasts and videos)
The Forestry Commission and other governmental organizations run radio and television programmes to communicate Forestry and general natural resources management information to members of the public. The advantage of this approach is that information reaches many people at one go.
Events (special days, awards, exhibitions, training and workshops)
Field days: These are events organized to demonstrate successful practices. Field days are a useful vehicle of communication as people have opportunity to learn about new technologies and innovations, which they could adopt/adapt for their situations.
Exhibitions: This involves showcasing of Forestry programmes and projects at places such as trade fairs, shows and carrier guidance meetings. Exhibitions have the advantage of face to face contact with members of the public.
Competitions: Government, the private sector and Non-Governmental Organisations run competitions on the environment particularly in schools, with the aim of creating awareness and educating the public about caring for the environment. Prizes in various forms are given as incentive.
Communication is taught in formal Forestry institutions (mostly in Forestry extension courses) thus providing Foresters with basic knowledge for use in communicating Forestry messages and information. Providing communication training in the formal system is good in that graduates come out of school with some good appreciation of packaging and delivery of Forestry information.
Government provides advisory services on Forestry to members of the public through an extension programme. Most of the tools mentioned above are used under forestry extension to communicate forestry messages/information to various stakeholders.
Media Relations (activities to involve media tours, media-press conferences, press visits and press release)
Media tours: These involve visits to various Forestry projects with members from the print and electronic media for media coverage. The purpose of this activity is for the media practitioners to assist in sending Forestry information to members of the public through radio and television. Media tours are good in that messages are broadcast far and wide and reach large audiences at one go.
The internet has become an important source and means of communicating Forestry information. Internet service in Zimbabwe is affordable and those without computers can still be able to access the service from their mobile phones.
· Foresters and other professionals in natural resources management should be given opportunity to attend workshops such as this one, in order to enhance their communication skills;
· Engage the private sector and other partners in resource mobilization to finance effective communication programmes;
· Development and production of more compelling, visually striking and captivating advertisements, posters, pamphlets, brochures and other communication material is necessary if we are to bring meaningful change to people’s attitude towards forests and the environment in general.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority
The country’s forest resources fall into four main categories namely: woodlands, forests and trees in communal and resettlement areas; woodlands and trees in large-scale commercial farming areas; woodlands and forests on state lands and in protected areas; and exotic forest plantations.
Exotic forest plantations cover 110,000 hectares of land. These forests are of great commercial importance and produce a range of timber-based products for the domestic and export markets. Indigenous forests and woodlands cover approximately 10 million hectares and provide rural households among other things, supplies of construction timber and fuel-wood and source of various needs for human livelihoods.
Status of Forests Conservation and Enhancement
Forest biodiversity conservation in Zimbabwe is done both in-situ and ex-situ. About 15% of the country’s land area was set aside forth in-situ and ex-situ conservation of forest biodiversity including wildlife. The following success programmes are actively implemented in Zimbabwe;
Environmental Education and Publicity
The State Party of Zimbabwe introduced annual National Fire Awareness Campaign and Tree planning programmes since 1992. The commemorations are held in respective districts country-wide, for example in 2012, the country is aiming at planting 10 million trees countrywide up from last year’s 5 million trees. This is assisting in the implementation of fire management and suppression measures as well as to increase the densities of forests.
There are programmes that are being launched on National Television and Radio, newspapers and brochures towards the conservation of forests, unplanned fires and wildlife conservation. The country also commemorates world wetlands day which has a bearing on forest conservation this is done also through musical artists who write songs about forests and wildlife. The group is called Artists for the Environment.
Partnerships and Alliance Programmes
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Environment Management Agency, NGOs and Forestry Commission work together to conserve forests in Zimbabwe. The basis of these partnerships/alliances include Strategic Planning, Research and Inventory, forests monitoring and evaluation, knowledge exchange & technology extension, best management practices and leveraging logistical and financial resources.
Project proposals for funding are developed and a good example is the USD30 000.00 which was offered to clear invasive alien plant species in Victoria Falls by GEF and UNESCO. A management plan was produced in 2007 with benchmarks and indicators towards the removal of the Lantana camara.
Research and Inventory
Riparian vegetation research is being conducted by ecologists, other national and international researchers. Publications and Inventories are produced on the status and or variations of forests in Zimbabwe. The Department of Forestry Commission produces updated base maps on the spatial distribution of vegetation/forests while Environment Management Agency and Zimbabwe Parks produces fire frequencies and wildlife distribution base maps country-wide.
The following programmes are being implemented in areas like the Eastern and Northern parts of forest areas in Zimbabwe:
· Forest conservation Risk and harvest intensity
· Wetland & Biodiversity conservation strategies
Identifying wetland types and their distinctive functions on the landscape is an important component of watershed-based resource management. There is currently a heightened awareness of forest Conservation issues in Zimbabwe.
Most communities are appreciating the need to conserve forests under the theme “A tree planted today – a forest tomorrow for improved human and wildlife livelihoods”. For example the National Forest Strategy identifies” integrated watershed based management” as an action item. This heightened awareness of Forests conservation issues supports Forestry Commission Department’s efforts to promote a forest-based approach to forest conservation in the country.
Similarly, in response to issues related to forest yield and harvest effects in surrounding landscapes, the three principal institutions have since developed a forest-based holistic approach to Sustainable Forest Management and Planning. Seeing the potential for collaboration in this and other areas of overlapping interest the three government institutions are working together, in identifying several priorities related to forest based conservation and issuance of respective licences to users and or harvesters. Effective forest based planning boundaries have been be determined in order to achieve forest management objectives including water yield, water quality and wetland conservation.
The following are the major challenges on Forest Best management Practices (BMPs) in Zimbabwe:
· Shortage or lack of intensive forest based planning tools
· Improved ability to manage risk to forest resources
· Vast commitment to maintaining forest resource values
· Sound and effective partnerships with potential donors
· GIS & Remote sensing information centre/hub on forest mapping (information is scattered)
· Lack of full appreciation by some communities to conserve forests