The Sustainable Forestry Management pilot project is addressing deforestation challenges emanating from tobacco production (agricultural expansion and wood energy for curing), in communal areas of Hurungwe district. Hurungwe is in Mashonaland West province in Zimbabwe and is the largest contributor to the country’s tobacco crop with number of registered growers in the district having increased from 4 295 in 2006 to 22 007 in 2014. The district lost about 7 000 ha of forests and woodlands to tobacco curing during the 2013-14 cropping season alone.
If no interventions are made the figure will continue to rise as new growers are enlisted given the profitability of the crop and the lack of economically viable alternatives to tobacco production. It is against this background that Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe, Agritex and Environment Africa, with support from WWF, are implementing strategies to minimise deforestation challenges through pilot sustainable forest management initiatives. These initiatives include broadening livelihood options for communities depending on natural resources, strengthening natural resource governance structures at various levels and promoting efficient tobacco curing technologies.
1. Promoting a forest based incentive system (bee keeping) through:
- Enhancing Honey production and productivity
- Supporting the development and implementation of local level forest by-laws
- Supporting the development and implementation of community level forest management plans
2. Reducing the tobacco production footprint through:
- Promoting effficient tobacco curing technologies
- Establishing community Woodlots and Woodland management plans
- Establishing partnerships in efficient tobacco curing