|Categories||Communities, Farming, Plants|
|Date||24 Apr 2005|
Persistent wildfires are retarding threatened Brachystegia and Androstachys woodlands decimated by the 1992 drought in the Gonarezhou region. Such fires are nearly entirely anthropogenic, largely caused by harvesters of wild honey. This process has seriously undermined biodiversity and ecological integrity in the Gonarezhou National Park and surrounds. Increasing reliance on wild resources is an unfortunate outcome of the present socio-political climate of Zimbabwe. A reversal of this direction in resource use will only come about after issues of food and income security are addressed.
The steps required will simply be to teach targeted community members how to make beehives, manage the bee colonies, collect and sell honey. This project does not seek to change the cultural way of life and, being devoid of any dominating prescribed conservation message does not infringe on activities or cultural rights. Apiculture is a proven economic activity that will mitigate against environmental damage as caused by wild harvesting. This project provides food and financial security for the Mahenye and relieves a wild resource of humans, thus creating a win-win situation for humans and biodiversity.
The overriding benefit for conservation is the measurable alleviation of fire-pressure on two critically threatened woodlands within the Gonarezhou. The knock-on effects for recovering habitat will be immense, and out of proportion to the relatively small leverage involved in this project. If, as expected apiculture is adopted and fire frequency measurably declines, the project can be replicated throughout other food security - conservation conflict areas in Zimbabwe.
ACTA staff are devising a curriculum, for implementation by Mr Petersen and Mr Midzi in the first half of 2005 with cooperation of the local community, business, the Honeybee Foundation and the Southern African Wildlife College, South Africa.