Acting auditor general Ron Mwambwa says the Forestry Department under the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection has failed to put in place proper management plans in 483 forest reserves.

In a report on sustainable forest management released this month, the Auditor General noted that there were no management plans put in place to protect forest reserves.

“There are 483 forest reserves in Zambia which need to have management plans. However, according to the Forestry Department (FD) annual report for 2012 to 2015, the FD did not prepare and implement forest management plans in any of the 483 forest reserve areas. A verification of the responses from the FD was also conducted in 2016. As of July 2016, the FD had not yet implemented the Forest Management Plans,” Mwambwa stated.

“Interviews carried out with FD management revealed that the reason for not having FMPs (Forest Management Plans) is due to lack of basic information such as size of forest, harvestable stock and boundaries of forests. Interviews revealed that the national forest inventory had not been carried out neither at local nor national levels due to limited resources such as funds, human resource and equipment to conduct the exercise.”

He said in the absence of forest management mechanisms, the FD had been using local forest operation plans.

“The FD stated during interviews that they would start developing detailed forest management plans for forest reserves and forests outside protected areas once they had complete forest inventory data. Inventory data was to be collected nationally with the assistance of FAO under the integrated Land Use Assessment project II (ILUA II),” stated Mwamba.