Painting for Protection: CFP and Community Ambassadors Paint Threatened Conservation Forest Boundary in Msoro Chiefdom

Recently, twenty one people including staff from the USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP), local leaders and Community Ambassadors from Msoro Chiefdom joined together to paint a 2.6 km boundary along the proposed Conservation Forest.  An area the community has flagged as facing a “high threat” from deforestation, and which they have requested support to “mark”, as the next step forward for the CFP.

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Representatives from the CFP and Msoro Chiefdom painted 2.6 km along a “high threat” boundary of the proposed Msoro Chiefdom Conservation Forest.

Since 2014, the CFP, being implemented by BCP, has engaged with local communities, community leaders, and Government, to identify areas of forest that will be conserved by the community using the REDD+ method. The fact that local communities are now ready and willing to begin visibly marking their proposed boundaries of the protected forest, is a major milestone.

 

This activity also provides an important reminder of the threat that these forests face, including pressure to clear land for agriculture use from a rapidly growing population. Msoro Chiefdom was selected as the first site to pilot visible demarcations. The community brought up concerns and warnings that certain areas of the proposed Conservation Forest are close to villages, flagging these areas as “high risk” for trees that could be cleared along the proposed boundary.

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A felled tree within view of one of the painted boundary trees. While not all areas of the proposed Msoro Chiefdom Conservation Forest face such high levels of threat, near to villages, there are strong pressures for deforestation to spread into areas of intact forest. The CFP aims to help reduce these pressures, by promoting sustainable land use planning, making critical investments into local livelihoods, helping to create incentives for conservation, and empowering members of the local community to protect and manage their forests.

Sure enough, the community members were right. During the painting activity the participants witnessed a “new” village (i.e. started within the past few months) along the boundary of the proposed protected forest area. Near to this village, the team saw numerous trees that had been felled, presumably to clear land for agriculture use. They also saw trees that had been “ring-barked,” a practice that slowly kills the tree. When a tree loses a strip of bark ringing it, nutrients can no longer freely flow through the tree. These trees had been deliberately ring-barked, to make them easier to knock down and clear land for agricultural use. In another case, the trees had been stripped of their bark to make traditional and unsustainable hives for beekeeping. (Note: BCP’s Honey Production Project, which has been launched in Rufunsa, and which we hope to expand into Eastern Province within the next few months, promotes the use of sustainably-produced hives that do not drive deforestation, and which can, in fact, help to create incentives for protecting forests, by allowing producers to gain income from honey produced in areas of intact forest).

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On the left, the visible (painted) boundary for the proposed Msoro Conservation Forest boundary are clear. On the right, a tree that had earlier “ring barked,” which will slowly die. The tree was likely ring-barked in order to be removed, to allow for the expansion of nearby agricultural fields.

The painting activity proceeded peacefully, and provided a great opportunity for Community Ambassadors to speak with residents of the local village, reminding them of the proposed Conservation Forest boundary, and encouraging them to participate in the sustainable livelihoods activities that will be implemented in their Chiefdom. Importantly, the initial boundary painting activity provided a learning opportunity for the participants to visibly mark the “most threatened” areas of their Conservation Forest boundaries, thereby ensuring the local community is aware of the boundaries, and to avoid conflicts based on misunderstandings, in the future. These initial boundary marking activities will be followed by a more formal boundary demarcation process, which will be undertaken in upcoming months in partnership with the Government of Zambia, including the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), the Government Department responsible for the management of Game Management Areas (GMAs) where the Conservation Forests are located.

As we came upon a nearby village, we noted numerous trees that had been cut down, to be used for poles for construction of new households. On the right, trees that have been stripped of their bark, in order to make hives for wild honey production.

As we came upon a nearby village, we noted numerous trees that had been cut down, to be used for poles for construction of new households. On the right, trees that have been stripped of their bark, in order to make hives for wild honey production.

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The painting team visited a new village that is visibly still under construction, as evidenced by the freshly cut poles for new structures that are not yet completed.

The Msoro Chiefdom Conservation Forest boundary painting team, earlier this week, comprised of representatives from BCP, as well as members of the local community, including local members of the Community Resources Board (CRB), Community Ambassadors, and the Community Mobilizer for the Chiefdom.

The Msoro Chiefdom Conservation Forest boundary painting team, earlier this week, comprised of representatives from BCP, as well as members of the local community, including local members of the Community Resources Board (CRB), Community Ambassadors, and the Community Mobilizer for the Chiefdom.

 

This blog is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content of this blog are the sole responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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