What really is the value of non-timber forest products in Zambia?

Forests and woodlands benefit the economy directly and indirectly. Despite this the sector’s contribution is grossly under-reported hence the real value of natural forests and woodlands remains unknown.

Recent studies have reported that the contribution of forest ecosystem goods and services to the Zambian economy is currently not accounted for in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Despite the existence of the National Forest Policy, there are no national sustainable forest management (SFM) guidelines to guide the formation of local-level or community-based forest management institutions. Consequently, there are no proper institutional structures for local-level forest governance in the rural communities.

This has resulted in the integrity of natural forests, woodlands and forest biodiversity being threatened by numerous social, economic, and ecological factors. There is also an urgent need to develop monitoring indicators for SFM.

Perhaps the most critical policy step is for the government to spearhead the initiation of the national framework for good forest governance that includes guidelines for effective law enforcement and sustainable trade practices. These would later be translated into community-based guidelines and procedures for SFM.