Baobob Resource Mapping, Monitoring and Management in Binga, Hwange, Mudzi, Rushinga, Bikita, and Chipinge Districts of Zimbabwe

Executive Summary

USAID Zimbabwe Resilience ANCHORS focuses on improving and strengthening the resilience capacities of communities in Zimbabwe, such as in the Southeast Lowveld by supporting community income-generating initiatives that sustainably utilize natural resources. One of the most significant opportunities around natural resources derives from the commercial potential of non-timber forest products. The Southeast Lowveld (SEL) is an especially productive area for these products and is already the center of the country’s growing baobab fruit industry. Zimbabwe has one of the highest population densities of baobab trees in Southern Africa, and the area is currently one of the major exporters of baobab fruit products in Africa. Baobabs in the country, however, are potentially under threat from several factors including increasingly erratic and unpredictable rainfall levels, felling, elephant damage especially in protected areas, outbreaks of mold disease, and commercial bark harvesting.

Overall Purpose and Scope

The scope of this exercise aimed to establish an accurate assessment of the baobab resources nationwide. The assessment focused on six districts with high concentrations of baobab in Zimbabwe: Bikita and Chipinge in the SEL, Hwange and Binga in the northwest, and Mudzi and Rushinga in the northeast.

The assessment had five main objectives:

  1. Undertake a detailed resource assessment looking at distribution, density, and dynamics of baobab populations in the six selected districts;
  2. Identify concentrations of baobab trees under threat as a priority for conservation action;
  3. Develop protection and restoration measures aimed at mitigating and preventing any urgent threats to baobabs within the areas;
  4. Design a long-term monitoring program to monitor the health and stability of the baobab resource, enabling the adoption of rapid corrective measures in the event of negative impacts on the baobab population; and
  5. Explore opportunities for income-generating activities for communities based on the conservation and sustainable use of the baobab tree species

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