|Application of Biomass-energy Technologies (Habitat, 1993)|
|I. Woodfuel production technologies|
Zambia, located in Southern Africa, has an areas of 750,614 sq km, with flat topography, except for isolated hills and hill ranges. In 1990, its population was estimated to be about 8,120,000 with an average annual growth rate of 3.7 per cent. About 44 per cent of the population live in urban areas. More than 95 per cent of Zambian households depend on woodfuel as their major source of domestic energy (Akapelwa, 1990).
It is estimated that 55 per cent of Zambia's land is covered with forests and woodlands. The supply of woodfuel is therefore high, but scarcities are experienced in areas with high population densities, in particular around cities with Lusaka being the worst affected area (Chidumayo, 1989). Efforts have, therefore, been initiated to increase the supply of woodfuel in deficit areas.
The main woodfuel-production technologies used are: establishment of woodfuel plantations, intensive research on suitable species for woodfuel, individual tree-planting based on agroforestry, establishment of woodlots by commercial farmers and management of natural forests. NGOs and donor agencies are both active in supporting on-going initiatives.
1. Woodfuel plantations
In 1976, establishment of 6000 ha of rural plantations for production of poles and woodfuel was started in the Copperbelt Province and a few other places, with a loan of $US5 million from the World Bank. Species planted were mainly eucalyptus (Akapelwa, 1990).
In 1978, an attempt to start a large-scale woodfuel plantation for Lusaka with a target of 7500 ha had failed due to lack of donor assistance. Nonetheless, through local resources, a total of 100 ha was established by the end of 1991 (SADCC Energy Sector, 1992a).
2. Research on suitable woodfuel species
Intensive research on suitable woodfuel species was started in 1984 with a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada A total of 13 different eucalyptus species, 38 acacia species, and various Leucaena leucocephala species were tried at four sites. This has provided useful information on suitable tree species for woodfuel and poles production (Akapelwa, 1990).
3. Individual tree-planting
Individual tree-planting on agroforestry principles is encouraged, with financial and technical assistance from the International Committee for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF). On-going activities include: identification of tree species suitable for agroforestry, development of suitable agroforestry techniques and transferring these techniques to farmers.
4. National Tree Planting Day programme
A large number of trees are planted by individuals during the National Tree Planting Day (15 December) and during the national tree-planting month which is between 15 December and 15 January. For example, between 1985/86 and 1988/89, a total of 2.8 million trees was planted although the target was to plant 20 million trees annually. The shortfall is attributed to a shortage of seedlings from government nurseries.
NGOs and donor agencies are contributing effectively to tree-growing efforts in Zambia. The Children's Christian Fund, based in Lusaka, has been actively engaged in individual tree-planting at Katuba and in the pert-urban of Lusaka. For example, in 1989, the Fund managed to plant about 10,000 trees. Other donors supporting tree-growing programmes include SIDA, IDRC, the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) and DANIDA.
5. Establishment of woodlots
Commercial farmers in Zambia, especially tobacco and coffee farmers, have formed a "Commercial Farmers Bureau" for tree-growing. Tobacco farmers in Choma and Kalomo districts have established woodlots of eucalyptus species, for curing Virginia tobacco, of sizes ranging between 10 and 30 ha Coffee farmers have planted trees as wind breaks.
6. Management of natural woodlands
Management of natural woodlands is practiced by the Forestry Department in gazetted forest reserves, through early burning at the start or mid of the dry season (April - July). Early burning results in a patchy burn and lower fuel loads, which prevent the occurrence of extensive and destructive heat, consequently promoting biomass regeneration (Akapelwa, 1990). Outside the forest reserves, there is little management by the public. Chidumayo (1989) and Akapelwa (1990) strongly urge that more emphasis be given to the management of existing natural forests and woodlands which is a pre-requisite for sustaining woodfuel supply and environmental protection in Zambia.