Forest Information System
Overview of Forest Resources in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is host to different woodland types, that consists of Acacia, Miombo, Combretum/ Terminalia, Mopane and Teak. The country’s forests are threatened by an ever-expanding demand for settlements, and land for agriculture. At the same time, forests are key as carbon sinks and crucial for the well-being of the citizens as well as for economic development.
Land Cover Statistics are critical in policy formulation and decision-making for sustainable management of natural resources. Therefore, there is needed to periodically produce exactly accurate information.
Deforestation is the conversion of forest to other land uses, such as agriculture and infrastructure. The difference between forest area net change and deforestation is that the former is the result of all losses and gains (natural expansion of forest as well as afforestation) and the latter considers only the area of forest that has been converted to other land uses (FAO ,2020).
Following the adoption and validation of the national definition of forest in 2021, the reported area of the forest shall comprise of the area under woodland and bushland
For 2020 the forest area as a percentage is approximately 61.04 % (23 938 411.06 Ha)
Woodland is defined as the minimum of 0.3 ha, covered with trees with a minimum of 5metres in height and canopy cover of a minimum of 10%.
Bushland is defined as the minimum area of 0.3ha, covered with trees with less than 5metres in height and a canopy cover of a minimum of 10%.
National Forest definition: Area of a minimum of 0.3 ha, with trees of more than 3 metres in a
height and a minimum canopy of 10%.
The annual deforestation rate is estimated at 262 348.98 hectares per annum for the period 1992 to 2017.
Drivers of deforestation and degradation
The study on the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in Zimbabwe was done under the Support towards implementation of Zimbabwe’s Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement (STZ-NDC) project which was implemented by the government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement’s Climate Change Management Department and United Nations Development Program with financial support from the Russian Trust fund. The Forestry Commission researchers conducted a country wide survey that involves satellite data analysis and stakeholders consultations.
Deforestation and forest degradation hotspots were found to be common in all the provinces, mainly the rural, resettlement and peri-urban areas. The direct drivers of deforestation include Firewood, settlements, agriculture, wildfire, tobacco curing, charcoal, brick making, logging, overstocking, construction, mining and brushwood. The indirect drivers included socioeconomic factors, legal factors, tenure, climate change/environmental factors and politics. Settlement expansion, agriculture, mining and tobacco curing were the most common drivers of deforestation and forest degradation and the most difficult to address. Mining and agriculture are likely to remain important in the future because both are economic pillars of the country.
Permanent Sample Plots (PSPs)
Permanent Sample Plots (PSPs) provide a unique long-term re-measurement dataset that is used to develop growth-and-yield models that support timber supply analyses and sustainable forest management decisions. Forestry Commission established (PSPs) between 1994 and 1997 in Gazetted forests namely Gwaai, Ngamo, Fuller ,Kazuma ,Ungwe ,Mudzongwe and Gwampa Forests. The plots were measured every 5 years, the latest measured was carried out in 2021.The data contributes a lot to sustainable management of gazetted forests in Zimbabwe.
In 2021 Forestry Commission established new PSPs in Save valley conservancy, Mafungabutsi forest and Ruzawi in Marondera. Information and data from PSPs shall assist the organisation in monitoring forest resources in Zimbabwe.
The Mapping and Inventory unit in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh developed a biomass map using satellite data.
2020 land cover map
The 2020 Land cover map was developed from the interpretation and classification of 2020 Sentinel 2 satellite images. The images were processed and interpreted using Google Earth Engine which is a cloud computing system.
Field data is important for map validation.The ground truthing exercise was carried out between November and December 2021, covering the whole country. The Open Data Kit was used to collect field data.
To further improve the map more than 50 000 collect earth sample data were analysed were used to improve the accuracy of the map.