Sharon Chimenya, Masvingo Correspondent
MORE than 15 000 Zimbabwean households are set to benefit from a US$10,4 million grant rolled out by the Global Environment Facility 7 (GEF-7) for the sustainable management of the Miombo and Mopane woodlands in the Save and Runde catchments.
The project running under the tittle “Cross-sector approach supporting the mainstreaming of sustainable forest and land management to enhance ecosystem resilience for improved livelihoods in the Save and Runde catchments of Zimbabwe” will be supported by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) as the GEF-7 implementing entity while the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry through the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) will be the executing entity.
The project which will be carried out in three provinces, Midlands, Masvingo and Manicaland is envisaged to benefit 15 000 households with at least 52 percent of those being women. Speaking during the GEF-7 drylands sustainable landscape impact programme inception workshop in Masvingo last Wednesday, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality, Ambassador Raphael Faranisi, who was standing in for Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu said the sustainable land and forest management had been given priority as part of strategies to reverse, reduce and avoid accelerated land degradation.
“The major causes of land degradation in Zimbabwe include rampant tree cutting, unsustainable wood-fuel harvesting, overgrazing, invasive alien species, wildfires, expansion of agricultural land, cultivation on riverbanks, degradation of wetlands, uncontrolled mining combined with expanding urbanisation. These developments are largely driven by poverty, lack of sustainable alternatives, population growth and climate change,” he said.
In order to address environmental challenges and empower people, the Government with funding support from the Global Environment Facility and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, developed a programme titled, “A cross-sector approach supporting the mainstreaming of sustainable forest and land management to enhance ecosystem resilience for improved livelihoods in the Save and Runde Catchments of Zimbabwe”.
The project, he said, was financed to the tune of US$ 10 433 945 with another US$60 691 231 co-financing from other partners implementing projects in the same area.
He said much of the sustainable forest management was stalled by the Covid-19 pandemic as the country was on lockdown affecting every sector of the economy and society and the period saw an increase in over dependency on natural resources for survival as traditional means of income were either eroded or completely shut down.
“The project is expected to create an enabling environment for the execution of land restoration initiatives through environmental planning, training and awareness, support of sustainable land and forest management interventions by communities, community livelihood projects, knowledge management and monitoring and evaluation. At project completion, the expected results and Global Environmental Benefits (GEBs) of the project are that approximately 2 150 hectares of land will be restored, 172 540 hectares of landscapes will be under improved practices through the implementation of integrated land-use plans promoting sustainable land management and sustainable forest management, 1.26 million metric tons of CO2e greenhouse gas emissions mitigated and 15 000 direct beneficiaries where at least 52 percent will be women.”
He said as part of the ministry’s contribution to attainment of Vision 2030, an accelerated land restoration programme will be implemented to enhance economic resilience, food security, biodiversity replenishment and increasing land cover thus mitigating against climate change and creating green jobs.
The FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Southern Africa and representative to Zimbabwe Dr Patrice Talla said the project which was now ready of implementation offered the prospect of restoring forest landscapes at a massive scale, thereby increasing ecological resilience and productivity.
“We are delighted to inform you that FAO, working closely with the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and other stakeholders finalised the development of a US$10,4 million project under Global Environment Facility -7 (GEF-7). The project, which was approved by the GEF Secretariat in 2021, will promote sustainable forest and land management in dryland landscapes of the South Eastern Lowveld of Zimbabwe and this initiative is now ready for implementation.
The objective of the Zimbabwe project is to promote the sustainable management of Miombo and Mopane production landscapes in Save and Runde sub-basins following a Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) approach.
“This initiative will support a cross-sector approach which will result in mainstreaming of sustainable forest and land management to enhance ecosystem resilience for improved livelihoods in the Save and Runde Catchments of Zimbabwe,” he said.