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Government spearheads Development of a National Forest Definition

Forestry Commission Managing Director Mr Abednego Marufu

By Tendai Guvamombe

The country will have a comprehensive and localized Forest Definition along with the Draft Forest Policy amid calls to institute provisions to benchmark with multi-lateral environmental conventions at global level.

The development follows the initiation of Forestry Policy by the Government in 2014 with the draft placed for validation in 2016 after consultations with Stakeholders.

Towards the end of 2020, the Government with the technical support of United Nations Development Programme conducted a Consultation Meeting and Validation Workshop for the Forest Definition in Mutare. The Programme is being spearheaded under UNDP Climate Promise initiative.

In a speech read by Tanyaradzwa Mundoga Director in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry on behalf of the Permanent Secretary Mr Munesu Munodawafa said the process is relevant in the revision of Nationally Determined Contributions(NDCs) interms of Measurement Reporting and Verification Framework. The enhanced Forestry Definition will be instrumental in addressing deforestation and degradation among other pertinent issues.

“This workshop comes at a very strategic time when we are revising our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which is will be important in profiling solutions to address our high deforestation rate. The national forest definition will be helpful in standardizing our reporting in a manner that fully capture our national circumstances. I believe this is an opportunity not only to reflect and agree on the forest definition but also to foster a dialogue between key stakeholders in addressing deforestation and forest degradation in the country. It is also my hope that this workshop will form a basis for strengthening of current and future strategic partnerships between our institutions in dealing with the forest related challenges.”

The Forestry Commission was mandated to embark on a research aimed at unpacking the major drivers of deforestation, forest degradation and subsequently come up with an agreed Forest Definition. The resultant encompassed different definition scenarios of national forest cover, deforestation rate and the resulting emissions in Zimbabwe.

The current realignment of Forest Legislation is also expected to integrate pertinent issues contained in international conventions on environment. Some of these include the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD.

Forestry Commission General Manager Abednego Marufu reiterated on the importance of having a Forestry Definition that speaks to various environmental issues, ranging from Sustainable Forestry Management, funding, carbon sinks and the ability to package forestry issues local and international level.

“We are coming up with an agreed Forest Definition and this explains a high attendance by stakeholders in the consultative meeting. Forest Definition is so important to the nation so that whenever we refer to issues of Sustainable Forestry Management you want to be understood because there are a lot of definitions that can be given to Forest, for instance in Zimbabwe there are bushes were you find trees and there are scrublands which are very short trees and we cannot classify them as Forests.”

“Development Partners and funders they will be wanting to know the type of forests we have and there is REDD+ where we talk about carbon issues, wanting to know the percentage of carbon we have in our forests. When you do not know what forest is you cannot convince your funders in terms of the sizes of your forests as well as the way they are increasing, so we want to understand each other locally and internationally.”

The stakeholders realized the need to realign the forest policy with the Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS) and this had a greater impact in achieving Zimbabwe’s Nationally Determined Contributions(NDCs) to the Paris Agreement.

Tafadzwa Dhlakama, the NDC-Partnership Coordinator UNDP In a speech read on behalf of Mrs Anne Madzara said the UN Agency under the Climate Promise is in supportive of many nations to stimulate successive NDCs. Currently Zimbabwe is receiving support in terms of furthering forest legislation, realignment and GEF 6 Biodiversity project in Zambezi River.

“UNDP under our Climate Promise is supporting 100 countries to undertake an inclusive and transparent process to revise and submit enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions, with a demonstrable increase in ambition. Zimbabwe is among these countries. UNDP is supporting the finalization of the national forest definition based on sub-sector consultations and re-alignment of the forest policy with recent developments. We are also supporting the piloting of SFM practices in the Zambezi Valley area through the establishment of 5 Assisted natural regeneration (ANR) sites covering 1,907 ha under the GEF 6 Biodiversity project.”

UNDP through Green Climate Fund(GCF) has been instrumental in promoting resilient forests in different countries to benefit local economies , biodiversity protection and the best interests to address climate change by providing technical assistance and policy advice.

Tendai Guvamombe
the authorTendai Guvamombe