In Zambia's Copperbelt region, native Miombo woodlands have been disappearing for many decades. WeForest is engaging with and training hundreds of small-scale farmers to restore these forests on their farms. In doing so, the farmers benefit from diversified jobs, higher incomes and new skills! Besides, via the project's holistic approach that integrates livelihood development with ecological restoration, farmers receive help in obtaining ownership of land.
Approx. 300,000 ha of forest continues to be destroyed annually in Zambia. Charcoal production and agriculture are the main sources of income for local communities, yet both are unsustainable due to degrading soils and have caused extensive deforestation and environmental degradation. In the Luanshya district, large numbers of people turned to small-scale agriculture and charcoal production to make a living following the collapse of the mining industry in the 1990s leading to deforestation.
Farmers are trained in sustainable woodlot management and sustainable biomass harvesting techniques, which enable the natural regeneration of trees and shrubs. Timber production, resulting from the harvesting of pine trees planted on the farms' arable land, serves to take the pressure off of the native Miombo woodlots. In addition the farmers are trained to sustainably harvest wood from their Miombo woodlots to produce wood chips, which provides a more efficient alternative to charcoal.
If farm woodlots continue to be treated in an unsustainable way, they will quickly degrade and disappear. Isolated fragments cannot regenerate at a fast enough pace to withstand the current pace of wood extraction. By restoring the forests, wildlife habitats are gradually restored promoting local biodiversity, conservation and soil regeneration. In the long term, this will prevent desertification and protect livelihoods of local communities.