ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Forestry: Effects of population growth
- 95% of people living in the rural area depend on wood as their source of fuel.
- The urban population has access to electricity but due to the power shortages issues and load shedding wood fuel is still in great demand in Zimbabwe.
- 60% of Zimbabwean households depend on firewood as a source of fuel
- As Zimbabwe’s population has increased over the years, the demand for wood as a fuel as also increased.
- Demand for agricultural and settlement land became high resulting in continuous clearing of the land and the shrinking of forests and woodlands.
- The areas most affected are mainly found in the communal areas of the country, where greater pressure is being exerted by both human and livestock.
- The communal areas are over dependent on wood for survival.
- These also experience the greatest wood fuel shortages in the country.
- The absence of electricity in most of these areas, the rapid population growth, increase in livestock numbers and increasing poverty have accelerated the rate of desertification in these areas.
- Desertification is the process of turning productive land into barren land as a result of human activities and physical changes for example overgrazing, deforestation, over ploughing, poor farming methods as well as climate changes.
- Much of the communal areas in Zimbabwe are slowly turning into deserts and their resources may not be sustained for future generations.
- Low levels of technology in rural communities have resulted in over-consumption of wood and other resources and higher levels of wastage leading to resource over-exploitation and the pending exhaustion for example open fires, at times in the open air consume more fuel wood and produce less energy than more confined fires.
- Lack of alternatives have also led to over-exploitation of woodlands.
- Alternative sources of power could break this cycle but their widespread use is precluded by their expense in relation to the widespread poverty in the communal area.
- These alternatives include the use of paraffin, solar energy and gas.
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