Helping prepare Zambia to tackle deforestation and forest degradation

Most attribute the high rate of deforestation in Zambia to the rural poor; trees are felled for space to grow food, harvesting timber and for manufacturing charcoal. But in 2010, as the country began drafting a National REDD+ Strategy, it was clear that detailed information on the underlying deforestation drivers, and even on the state of Zambia’s forests, was missing.

Through the USAID-funded Nyimba Forest Project, CIFOR’s Davison Gumbo and his team stepped in to address the knowledge gaps. By the time the project ended in 2014, CIFOR had become the leading source of climate change information in Zambia, generating data and implementing monitoring systems that will continue to guide Zambia’s National REDD+ Strategy.


The Nyimba Forest Project

Zambia’s Forest Department, Zambia Wildlife Authority, COMACO, Community Youth Concern and the District Women’s Development Association

Funding partner:

The Zambian government is grateful to USAID for funding this project …[CIFOR has] a deep knowledge of our country and are leaders in the international forestry arena.

Wilbur Simuusa
Zambia’s Minister for Lands, Natural Resources, and Environmental Protection

Understanding charcoal
Zambia’s government called a national meeting to discuss the latest charcoal research – including CIFOR’s findings and recommendations – to assess and re-design Zambia’s charcoal policies.

Translating research to action
CIFOR held two media workshops on forests and climate change with 23 of the country’s most influential media practitioners. This has resulted in:

  • CIFOR now receiving requests from journalists for climate change information.
  • An increase in media stories about climate change and CIFOR’s work.

This has been an eye opener for me. As a news editor for my media institution, I will allocate more time to report on the environment.

Kunda Kunda
Joy FM News Editor

Engaging stakeholders for impact
The project involved chiefs, villagers, community leaders, local NGOs and government agencies in all its activities to foster support and capacity for climate change initiatives at all levels.

Now I know that resources coming from these forests are beneficial to our livelihood, and this gives us every reason to conserve them properly.

Christine Zulu
Coordinator, Nyimba District Women’s Development Association

Implementing community-based monitoring
Forests in Zambia are often very remote, making forest and carbon monitoring extremely challenging. Yet both are important to REDD+ and community-level decision making. We implemented monitoring systems that involve the forest users and decision makers.

[The project] has given us a vision on how to plan and manage our forest resources.

Smart Lungu
the Nyalugwe Chiefdom Secretary and inDuna

Thanks to this forest project, we are beginning to understand the importance of protecting our natural resources.

Derrick Daka
Village-based Researcher

Related publications

Zambia is one of the nine pilot countries for the UN-REDD programme and is currently at the first phase of readiness for REDD+ under the UN-REDD quick start initiative. A National Joint Programme (NJP) is tasked with developing a national REDD+ strategy.
 Zambia has had one of the highest levels of deforestation in the world, at 250,000 - 300,000 hectares per year according to a 2008 land-use assessment conducted by the Zambian Government. Zambian experts estimate that this high rate of deforestation is largely due to smallholder agricultural expansion, infrastructure development and charcoal burning.