By Jonas Miselo
In a move towards sustainable development and environmental conservation, traditional leaders in Luapula Province are actively engaging with government initiatives to promote Community Forestry Management Groups (CFMGs).
Chief Munkanta of the Chishinga people in Kawambwa district and Chief Mwansakombe of the Ng’umbo-speaking people in Chifunabuli district have both pledged significant portions of their land for community forest management, highlighting the importance of preserving forests for various economic and ecological benefits.
Chief Munkanta, of Kawambwa district, is collaborating with the Ministry of Green Economy, specifically through the Department of Forestry, to ensure the success of Community Forestry Management Groups in his chiefdom.
Recognizing the multifaceted importance of forests, Chief Munkanta emphasizes their potential for carbon trading, beekeeping, and mushroom harvesting.
To protect these valuable resources, he actively supports CFMGs, designating the Kabembe and Lubula Fita community forest management areas in his chiefdom, totaling over 11,200 hectares of land.
“Having met with the community and traditional leadership, we sensitized them on the need to protect our forests. Climate change is causing a lack of rainfall and droughts, so after discussions with the Forestry Department, they welcome the issue of CFMs.
We are advising them not to cut down trees, as the trees are the source of the rain. On this project (CFM) they have brought, there are benefits. There is beekeeping, we can package mushrooms from the forests for business. Because we are lucky enough to receive the rains and not suffer from droughts, hence the need for not indiscriminately cutting down trees, even when it comes to farming,” he said.
Chief Munkanta is not only working with the Department of Forestry but is also dedicated to sensitizing his people about the significance of CFMs. Encouraging responsible resource management, he is open to providing more land for CFMGs as identified by the Department of Forestry and transformative projects like the Transforming Landscapes for Resilience and Development Project (TRALARD).
Mwali Lumpa, a technologist at the Department of Forestry, affirms that collaboration with TRALARD is pivotal to the success of CFMs, aligning efforts to make these community-driven initiatives effective in fostering environmental sustainability and community prosperity stating;
“TRALARD comes in as a funding agency, as the Forestry Department we have degraded areas and we would like to restore those areas, places like Lubula Fita, a forestry reserve area, which people were just using for agriculture purposes but with limited resources we were not able to patrol them but with the coming in of TRALARD and the initiative of CFM we have regained back the strength to communicate with the communities, we are engaging them with the training of how to raise seedlings and livelihood activities such as mushroom growing.
TRALARD is coming in with funds that are going to support the community, the alternative livelihoods, beekeeping, mushroom growing, they have got chickens, they have gardens. This is what is going to keep the community together as they are going to benefit from these livelihood activities in return the pressure that is on the forest’s natural resources is going to be reduced.
The major challenge is that people are engaging in agriculture, charcoal production, and illegal timber harvesting because they want to get something out of it so that they can send their children to school and feed their families but with these alternative livelihood activities the community is given an alternative whilst protecting forestry resources.
Similarly, in Chifunabuli district, Chief Mwansakombe of the Ng’umbo-speaking people is making a significant contribution to climate change mitigation. In response to the urgent need to combat deforestation and promote sustainable land use, Chief Mwansakombe has generously allocated 250 hectares of land in Kafwimbi as a community forest management area.
Expressing his hopes for the area, Chief Mwansakombe envisions not only the conservation of forests but also the utilization of this land for livelihood activities that will bring prosperity to his people. Emphasizing the importance of responsible resource management, he anticipates that the community will actively engage in sustainable practices to safeguard their shared environment.
Chief Mwansakombe extends his gratitude to TRALARD and the Department of Forestry for their engagement, recognizing the collaborative efforts that strengthen the success of community-led environmental initiatives.
Francis Mwape, Senior Extension Assistant at the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment in Chifunabuli district, underscores the economic and conservation benefits inherent in CFMs, aligning with the broader goal of sustainable development.
“There are issues of climate change and if the CFMs are conserved, we can mitigate the cases of droughts and floods,” he said.
Community Forestry Management Areas (CFMAs) or Community Forestry Management Groups (CFMGs) are initiatives that involve local communities in the sustainable management and use of forest resources.
These areas are designated for community-led conservation efforts, emphasizing the active participation of residents in the planning, decision-making, and implementation of forest management practices. The primary goal is to balance the ecological, economic, and social aspects of forest resource utilization.