The rate of deforestation in Zambia is very high at about 250,000 to 300,000 hectares per year. This is the issue that Australia Awards Alumnus, Godfrey Musonda, set out to tackle when returning from his scholarship in July 2012.
“My studies in Australia gave me the capacity to analyse and interpret policies. I learned to read between the lines and apply my learning in the field. I now use the knowledge and skills I gained to make decisions applicable to the local situation,” explains Godfrey who obtained a Masters in Environmental Management at the University of Queensland.
Upon returning from his studies, Godfrey started a large-scale Forest Nursery Project in his position of Principal Extension Officer at the Forestry Department under the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. With an implementation period of three to four years, this project aims to address deforestation through both afforestation and reforestation activities.
Since project start-up in September 2012, 1,420,000 poly pots have been filled and over 300,000 seedlings have been raised in the Central Province nursery. A number of the seedlings have been transferred to forest degraded areas for planting. The project has also created over 450 casual jobs, thus translating into economic benefits for local communities, in particular for young people.
“During my studies in Australia, I learned that it is critical to involve and bring the community and other stakeholders on board in such projects in order for them to be successful and sustainable,” adds Godfrey.
Meetings were organised with local traditional leaders and other stakeholders in the Central Province to gather their views and gain their support for the initiative, leading to ownership and broad-based support.
The project is also benefiting from the grassroots collaboration of local environmental organisations, which are helping with seedling distribution, and institutions of higher education, in particular the Copperbelt University and the University of Zambia, which are lending research expertise to the initiative.