ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes:Natural Resources: Sustainable Management of forest resources in rural areas
- Sustainable economic development involves the careful management of resources, conservation and the monitoring of the effects of resource exploitation on the environment.
- This sustainable management ensures that present and future generations can meet their needs with little damage to the environment.
- Organizations have been set up to monitor and manage resources in Zimbabwe.
- These include thMinistry of Environment, Water and Climate,the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as well as Mines and Environment and Tourism and Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA).
- Zimbabwe has also set up the Environmental Management Agency (EMA)
- These have operated through the Forestry Commission, Natural Resources Board, the Department of Wildlife Management, and Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE).
- Government has also been a signatory to conventions and protocols related to environmental issues such as the Rio Earth Summit Convention of 1992, the Convention to Combat Desertification of 1994, as well as the Convention in International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) and many others.
- Among the measures taken to reverse the damage caused by extensive deforestation and land degradation in Zimbabwe’s rural areas are:
- Reforestation and afforestation. The Forestry Commission is planting trees in areas that have been deforested (reforestation) as well as in areas that had no forests before (afforestation). Fast growing trees like the exotic gum tree (eucalyptus) have been preferred for this purpose to indigenous trees. This is because exotic trees are fast-maturing and suitable for more uses than indigenous trees.
- The tree planting season is marked by widespread tree planting ceremonies starting on the first Saturday of December. The seedlings are supplied by both the Forestry Commission and private nurseries. The tree planting campaigns have helped to bring awareness of the importance of trees to rural communities.
- Introducing new technologies. New technology give rise to economic and efficient use of wood resources to give maximum benefits while reducing wastage. Open fires commonly used for cooking in communal areas uses lots of wood fuel to produce little heat. Enclosed fireplaces made out produce clay, bricks or cement have been encouraged by the department of Agriculture Research and Extension Services, in line with researchers at the Blair Research Centre in Harare. More wood saving stoves have also been introduced in the communal areas for example the tsotso stove. The use of gas stove, solar energy for electricity and paraffin stoves are yet to be fully embraced in these areas.
- Substitution of wood fuel for other sources of energy. Solar energy is now being introduced in the form of solar panels used for both lighting and cooking. The technology is simple to use and maintain for rural communities. Its widespread use and acceptance has still to be realized. Other substitutes for wood fuel include electricity, paraffin, coal, charcoal and gas.
- Empowering rural communities in the management of and conservation of their resources. The approach of the District Environment Action Plan (DEAP) to empower locals is very useful. It can be done by involving local communities, particularly women who have a direct responsibility for collecting food, water and wood for their families on a daily basis, in the management of these resources. This approach will only succeed if the local communities derive direct benefits from these resources. The department of National Parks and Wildlife Management has introduced the CAMPFIRE project in rural area. The CAMPFIRE programme is encouraging local communities to evolve their own resource management and conversation system in their areas deriving the benefits of selling these resources. The programme has been a success in the management of wildlife where local communities now live side by side with game animals deriving monetary benefits from sales of animal products, the program is meant to cover other resources like forest, fish, soil and minerals.
- Resettlement. Resettlement of people from overcrowded and overgrazed communal areas may also help to relieve pressure on indigenous forest resources in these areas. Good planning should, however, ensure that the receiving forested areas do not suffer the same fate as the source areas.
- Recycling of products that use forest resources. This can help to reduce the over exploitation of such resources for example recycling of paper products.
- Population control. Sustainable development can only succeed where the population growth rate is not eating up the small economic gains the country is realizing from the introduction of new and more efficient technologies. A smaller population growth rate saves more surplus income to spend on luxury goods other than food, shelter and clothing. This in turn stimulates industrial growth. This can be achieved in rural communities by improving the education of women and improving the health care facilities and family planning presence in these areas.
- Laws and fines Various fines and laws have been passed making it illegal to cut and transport trees indegenous trees without a permit from the Enviromental Mangement Agency, an offence to start veld fires and to encourage the sustainable use of trees and other resources
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