Household livelihoods, marketing and resource impacts: a case study of bark products in eastern Zimbabwe

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Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) represent a major contribution to rural communities in eastern Zimbabwe. In this area, baobab markets have prospered due to drought and rural poverty. This paper integrates information form related disciplines regarding the baobab ecology, and the baobab bark harvesting, processing, and marketing in the study area o f Mutsiyo,. Nhachi and Gundyanga villages (42 km2). Baobab tree densities and size-class distribution were established (8.41 trees/ha), along with the extent o f harvesting (99% o f individuals sampled had evidence o f bark harvesting), and maximum harvested heights (almost 50% o f the trees had been harvested up to 2 m). Times o f bark and fibre quality regeneration after harvesting were calculated after a 4-year experiment (6 and 10 years to restore pre-harvesting conditions, respectively). An equation was designed to calculate available volumes o f and fibre quality o f baobab bark, both coming from regenerated scars and non-harvested sections o f trees. A discussion is presented regarding the sustainability o f the baobab harvesting practice. Ideas for the sustainable use of the baobab bark resource are outlined, based on the concepts o f adaptive and community based management.



Household livelihoods, Commercial Bark Harvesting, Marketing, Resource impacts, Adansonia Digitata, Zimbabwe, Baobab