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Govt Budgets for Permanent Forest Guards, Says Hon. Nzovu

The Zambian Government is making strides towards enhancing forest conservation efforts by budgeting for the employment of permanent forest guards, announced Minister of Green Economy and Environment, Hon. Eng. Collins Nzovu, MP.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony of Honorary Forest Officers (HFOs) in Mumbwa district, Hon. Nzovu emphasized that those who served as HFOs would be given priority for permanent positions. These officers, although currently linked to Mumbwa, may be assigned to other regions as needed.

The graduating HFOs will be responsible for overseeing an extensive area of 113,626.30 hectares. Hon. Nzovu expressed confidence in their training, noting that they are well-equipped with the necessary knowledge and strategies for promoting sustainable forest management.

The Minister highlighted the government’s satisfaction with the formation of Community Forest Management Groups. These groups, comprised of local residents who either live near the forests or rely on them for their livelihoods, are instrumental in communal forest control, use, and management. This approach is expected to foster sustainable management of forest ecosystems and biodiversity.

Acknowledging the significant role of traditional leaders, Hon. Nzovu praised the collaborative efforts in forest conservation. The training and subsequent graduation of HFOs underscored the importance of partnerships in advancing sustainable forest management.

His Royal Highness Chief Mulendema of Mumbwa District acknowledged the challenges of forest protection, noting that deforestation often places undue blame on charcoal producers despite widespread benefit from charcoal as an energy source. He urged the government to explore viable alternatives to charcoal to mitigate this issue.

Ms. Shawna Hirsch, USAID Zambia Office of Economic Development and Environment Director, highlighted the U.S. government’s involvement through the USAID Alternatives to Charcoal initiative.

This partnership with the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment, local governments, communities, and private sector partners aims to shift Zambians away from charcoal production and consumption towards more climate-friendly livelihoods and cooking solutions.

“Charcoal production accounts for nearly 25 percent of deforestation and forest degradation, significantly contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change,” Ms. Hirsch stated. “To address this, we are supporting 600 households in Mumbwa with sustainable alternative livelihoods.”

USAID is providing training, tools, and technology to deploy Honorary Forest Rangers in four districts, aiding the Forestry Department and Community Forest Management Committees in realizing a sustainable forest vision for future generations.

Ms. Hirsch thanked COMACO for their vital support in training rangers and facilitating alternative revenue streams such as honey production, poultry, horticulture, and conservation agriculture.

COMACO Assistant Manager for Carbon, Mr. Fanwell Hamusonde, reaffirmed their commitment to working with the government and appreciated the communities’ cooperation with COMACO.

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