The Forest Research and Training Division is responsible for conducting research and forestry training for the entire forestry sector. Forestry research contributes to the development and management of forest resources. The outputs of the Division include knowledge generation which is communicated through publications, improved seed production, understanding of the growth patterns of trees and their ecological requirements as well as production of skilled forestry personnel. The knowledge and technology generated ensures the sustainable management and utilisation of trees, woodlands and forests.
The Research and Training Division (R&T) consists of two operational wings namely, the Research wing and the Training wing. The Research wing is made up of two operational units namely, Plantation Forestry and Social and Indigenous Forestry. The two units are supported by the Technical Services Unit.
The research wing has its headquarters at the Forest Research Centre (FRC) in Harare and runs three field stations, John Meikle, Muguzo and Chesa Forest Research Stations situated near Stapleford, Chimanimani and Bulawayo respectively. In addition, there is a network of satellite research sites strategically located throughout the country.
The training wing comprises two distinct colleges namely, Zimbabwe College of Forestry (ZCF) and Forest Industries Training Centre (FITC). ZCF offers training in Forest Resources Management while FITC offers training in Primary wood Processing. At both Colleges, tralning is offered at Certificate and Diploma levels In addition to skills upgrading training through short courses offered to practising industry personnel. The two colleges (ZCF/FITC) are equal opportunity training institutions which cater for human resources needs in the forest sector of SADC community. Major programs Include Diploma in forestry, Diploma in wood technology, Certificate in forestry, Certificate in saw-doctoring and further skills upgrading for those working in forest sector.
The Division has over 2000 activity field tree experiments replicated at the five key research stations, in private forest estates and farmers fields nationwide across all the silvicultural zones of Zimbabwe. The Forestry Training colleges have, during the period 1980-2012, churned out 868 forestry and wood technology professionals as well several skilled natural resources management specialists, compared to only 134 professionals over the 40-year period, 1940-1979.
The Divisions mandate revolves around:
- Undertaking cost effective and client oriented research for the entire forestry sector in Zimbabwe, to make known results of such research; and to develop technologies for managing natural and plantation forests; and
- Providing skilled personnel for the national and SADC forestry sector through training at Diploma and Certificate levels as well as client oriented short in-service training.
There is no doubt that research has been the cornerstone of development in the country’s forest industries, and will continue to provide solutions for commercial, social and environmental problems, not only within Zimbabwe but also globally through our participation in regional and international research endeavors. Major research programmes include tree breeding, seed physiology, plantation and indigenous silviculture, entomology and pathology; supported by biometrics and mapping and inventory services.