The Miombo Network’s regional conference highlighted the ongoing need to promote regional partnerships for sustainable and integrated management of Miombo forests in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The Miombo woodlands are biomes of tropical and subtropical grassland, savanna, and shrubland mainly found in central Africa. The woodlands are essential to the livelihoods of many rural people who depend on its resources.
The diverse biome species provide non-timber products such as fruit, honey, fodder and fuelwood. Miombo woodlands are home to elephants, rhinos, giraffes and other wildlife. The woodlands are classified as dry or wet based on the annual distribution of rain.
Wet and dry woodlands
The dry woodlands receive less than 1000mm annual rainfall. The areas include Zimbabwe, central Tanzania and the southern regions of Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.
The wet woodlands are characterised by annual rainfall of over 1000mm and span northern Zambia, eastern Angola, central Malawi and southwestern Tanzania.
The conference was recently held in Maputo. Mozambique’s prime minister, Adriano Maleiane, opened the event and emphasised the importance of preserving the Miombo as it is critical to retaining ecosystems, climate resilience, and economic strengthening.
Dr Cliff Dlamini, executive director at the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), was a guest speaker. He discussed policies that can strengthen sustainable and responsible management of forest resources in the region, promote safeguards and capitalise on the best climate resilience the Miombo ecosystem provides.
Dlamini said CCARDESA is alarmed at the decline of the Miombo woodlands from 2,7million to 1,9million square kilometres. “Land degradation, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and increased carbon emissions are critical threats to the Miombo,” he said.
“The Miombo cannot be managed in isolation from local communities. They must be involved in developing policies and managing the Miombo ecosystem to address their concerns and align strategies with their needs.
“We must adopt practical approaches that include participatory forest management (PFM) and community-based forest management to transform communities and the forests.”
More research needed
Dlamini called for more research on Miombo woodlands to understand the impacts of the different ecosystem drivers, genetic diversity, land cover types, goods and services on biodiversity. Modern technologies like remote sensing can generate valuable research data to inform management and ultimately contribute to ecosystem sustainability.
There were several speakers at the conference, including Dr Judith Kamoto, head of the forestry department at Malawi’s Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She reminded conference-goers that forests contribute to the gross domestic product (GDP) through employment and energy provision.
Prof Josiah Katani from the forestry department at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania, described the government’s strategies to protect the Miombo. It includes deploying soldiers to guard forest reserves, standardising the price of charcoal, and joint forest management (JFM) by the government and the communities.
Katani said governments should explore ways of incentivising communities in unreserved woodlands to protect their resources through community-based forest management (CFM).
The presentation by Prof Jonathan Muledi, from the faculty of agronomy at the University Lubumbashi, DRC, was a reality check. He described some of the many threats to the Miombo woodlands.
Between 2007 and 2017, mining activities caused the loss of 36% of the country’s forests. Muledi said other significant threats are brickmaking, uncontrolled internal migration of people searching for ways to earn a living and auctioning blocks of Miombo lands for oil and gas exploration.
Muledi said the DRC government is aware of the challenges and is committed to preserving its natural resources. Another positive is the availability of international funders and the private sector willing to ensure afforestation and conservation of the forests.
The conference concluded that preserving the Miombo woodlands is an integrated and complex problem. There is a need for systems thinking and ways to expand the region’s capacity to manage and monitor the forests in partnership with governments and communities.
Original Source: www.ccardesa.org
Source: WoodBiz Africa Magzeine