Sustainable Forestry in Zambia

INEOS has since 2018 been working to develop community enterprise schemes protecting invaluable forest in Zambia.

After several years supporting smaller local conservation efforts across Africa, since 2018 INEOS has been working to develop community enterprise schemes protecting invaluable forest in Zambia. The project seeks to protect a vital forest reserve area in the centre of the country by collaborating with local chiefs to halt and reverse deforestation while improving the livelihoods of local farmers. 

This 120kha region, which has seen some areas completely deforested and degraded, with further areas under significant pressure from illegal charcoal production, logging, mining, poaching and encroachment, is beginning to see its fortunes turned around by the efforts of the Trust. The organisation aims immediately to enable vital forest corridors whose loss will exacerbate the forest’s decline. In doing so, it is helping the local community to create sustainable businesses on surrounding land. Its ultimate hope is to rebuild the local ecosystem with a buffer zone to one day support several endangered species, and protect the region through National Park protection status. 

Key Interventions

INEOS’ initial investment and programme development work has helped launch several key interventions:


Monitoring and policing illegal activities in the forest

Monitoring and policing illegal activities in the forest, through supporting local law enforcement.


Designing an efficient wood burning stove

Which is simple to build for free, and easy to operate. Working in tandem with local leaders and often the women who use the stoves daily, teaching them how to construct and use these has seen almost 1000 built in a year across the region. Each results in each family saving at least two tonnes of firewood per year, and reduces the time involved in meal preparation from several hours a day to less than an hour.


Providing alternative sustainable sources of income

Providing alternative sustainable sources of income to families whose current livelihood depends on illegal logging and charcoal sales.

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Supporting the teaching of more efficient farming techniques

In partnership with local farmers- covering planting methods and timings, crop rotation, composting, and water management. These simple systems enable families to grow enough nutritious food for their needs, and then sell leftover cash crops through cooperatives. The farmers are as a result replanting trees to support their fields’ ecosystems (providing shade, wind protection, water retention) and to provide new crops (e.g. fruits).

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Educating local leaders and influencers

The programme involves educating local leaders and influencers through workshops, supporting farmers to attend initial in-person teaching, and creating a strong local network to share this better practice in the wider community. Initially working with 10 focus groups (200 farmers), the organisation intends to scale this up to at least 2000 farming families.

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Teaching farming families how to produce effective natural fertilizer

Teaching farming families how to produce effective natural fertilizer (compost) from their land, and enabling former ‘convicted’ charcoalers to set up compost businesses instead. This also reduces the area’s reliance on government/aid agency fertilizer supplies.


Providing families with beehives

To begin generating income from local honey. Six hundred beehives have to date been gifted to local farmers, provided along with training and support. The North Swaka Trust coordinates collecting and selling the honey, and a small amount of profit derived from these sales will be reinvested in the programme to expand it further providing more hives. This also creates a link between financial rewards and the health of the forest, since in order to produce honey, the bees need to have access to trees.


Experimenting with simple tree nurseries

To repopulate damaged forest with new trees. The team are exploring the most cost-, time- and ecologically- efficient species and methods of growing indigenous trees to find the solutions that work best locally.


Deepening the scientific understanding of forest monitoring

Deepening the scientific understanding of forest monitoring processes through open source tools such as Google Maps and readily available data from flights and drones. This area can be cheaply surveyed whenever needed.

By empowering locals and stimulating the local economy alongside enhancing the health of the forest, a positive feedback loop is created locally enabling Mkushi farmers to become stewards of their surroundings. INEOS has provided its business expertise in efficient farming methods, while reducing middlemen with a social enterprise model ensuring that economic success is fully reinvested in the community and can continue in the long term.

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