Zambia Country Forest Note: Is it a sustainable roadmap for managing forests?

The Zambia Country Forest Note is a welcome step towards integrating “forest-smart” policies into sustainable development planning. In particular, this CFN highlights the importance of supporting participatory forest management and benefit-sharing mechanisms. This reflects a critical objective of the World Bank’s Forest Action Plan. The CFN also acknowledges that Zambia faces considerable institutional capacity challenges which inhibit effective monitoring and implementation. Fortunately, the CFN includes an ample list of projects aimed at reinforcing these institutions to better enable effective management practices. The CFN also represents encouraging progress by recognizing the need for additional resources, whereby Zambia can mainstream forests in other sectors, notably agriculture and energy.

What’s missing? 

Charcoal production is a primary driver of deforestation in Zambia, yet according to a cursory analysis of the WB-IFC pipeline, no efforts exist to support the development of a clean cooking and heating program. In addition, the CFN lacks a robust discussion on formalizing land tenure agreements to safeguard smallholders and traditional communities from being dispossessed of agricultural land by external forces. The Note also fails to account for the expected expansion of copper and artisanal mining operations to meet increasing demand for renewable technology development. These shortcomings, among others, threaten Zambia’s progress on “forest-smart” policies. Read our analysis for an in-depth evaluation of the CFN’s strengths and weaknesses in Zambia’s sustainable development planning.