The Forestry Department under the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources is established under the Forests Act No. 4 of 2015. The core function of the department is to spearhead sustainable management of the forest resources across the country. Currently, there are two branches under the Forestry Department; one, dealing with extension services and the other dealing with forest research. Each of the ten provinces of Zambia has a Provincial Forestry Office and the department is also represented in almost all the districts, and district forest offices are being set up in the newly created districts.
“To ensure sustainable flow of wood and non-wood forest product and services while at the same time ensuring protection and maintenance of biodiversity for the benefit of the present and future generations through the active participation of all stakeholders.”
Apart from the National Forest Policy and Forests Act, the operations of the forestry department are guided by key national documents such as the National Development Plan (NDP), Vision 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals the National Strategy to Reduce Deforestation and Forest Degradation, the Investment Plan to reduce Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Zambia Forestry Action Programme.
“To have enhanced social-economic growth through sustainable management and utilization of the forest resources by 2030.”
The core functions of the Forestry Department are; research, restoration of degraded and depleted areas and extension services. The programmers and activities of the department are guided by the National Forestry Policy of 2014 and the Forests Act of 2015 to enforce law and order regarding the management of forests and their exploitation and enshrined in the Forests Act of 2015:
To ensure sustainable forest management the following are the core functions undertaken by the department:
- advise the Minister on areas required to be protected as National Forests, Local Forests, botanical reserves or community forests and the policies required to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of forest resources in those areas;
- control, manage, conserve and administer National Forests, Local Forests and botanical reserves;
- adopt and promote methods for the sustainability, conservation and preservation of ecosystems and biological diversity in forest areas and open areas;
- collect, compile and disseminate information on forest resources in any area and advise on areas requiring afforestation, re-forestation and protection of flora threatened or in danger of extinction;
- establish and promote the establishment of plantations;
- devise and implement participatory forest management approaches for indigenous forests and plantations involving local communities, traditional institutions, nongovernmental organisations and other stakeholders, based on equitable gender participation;
- develop and implement public education programs on various aspects of forestry, including indigenous knowledge on sustainable use and conservation of forest resources to ensure better appreciation, management and utilisation of forest resources;
- conduct and support forestry research and development and studies on national resource requirements and devise the best methods for meeting the demand of the multiple users of forest resources in an integrated manner compatible with sustainable use and conservation of biological diversity;
- undertake and support adaptive research and development of forest resource management, farm forestry, agro forestry and forest products at national, regional and local levels;
- develop and implement management plans for forest areas and open areas in partnership with local communities, joint forest management committees, community forest management groups, traditional institutions and the private sector;
- issue licences and permits and enter into concessions agreements;
- devise methods for the sharing of costs and benefits from monies obtained from licences, permits and concessions with local communities and traditional institutions;
- develop mechanisms for monitoring the use of forest resources and developments in the forestry sector and for monitoring and evaluating forest resources;
- promote the sustainable utilisation of forest resources for the development of the national economy;
- establish and operate effective and systematic management of financial, human and natural resources for the conservation of biological diversity;
- take appropriate measures, in consultation with the Zambia Environmental Management Agency, to safeguard protected species against extinction and control and prevent the introduction of invasive alien species in forest areas;
- facilitate equitable access to forest resources for commercial, recreational and indigenous use;
- promote and regulate beekeeping.
Structure of the Department
The Forestry Department has its headquarters in Lusaka where the Directorate of Forestry provides policy guidance. There are two main branches of the Forestry Department through which programmes are implemented.
- Forestry Extension Branch: This section is responsible for the rehabilitation of degraded and depleted areas, community participation and public awareness on values and benefits of the forest as a natural resource, agro-forestry and surveys as well as extension services. The section operates at provincial, district and in some cases sub district level in all parts of Zambia. The branch is also responsible for forest law enforcement.
(ii) Forestry Research Branch: The section is responsible for growing trees from nursery to harvesting. This includes silviculture, tree genetics, forest pathology and entomology, mensuration, ecology and botany, soils biometrics, timber engineering, wood composite, timber drying, timber seasoning/grading, wood chemistry and minor forest products. The Branch has its main office in Kitwe.