This study assessed the response of miombo woodland tree species to the impact of charcoal production along the Kabwe – Ndola highway in Kapiri Mposhi district, central Zambia and covered the period 2013 - 2017. The main objective of the study was to determine whether all tree species harvested for charcoal production regenerated to answer the question, does tree cutting for charcoal production directly cause deforestation? Factors considered were species cut for charcoal production, height above ground at which the tree was cut, cutting angle and aspect, stump thickness, season of cutting and the number and location of saplings. Vegetation assessments were carried out in 20 m x 20 m quadrats laid out at each sample point in which only trees ≥ 30cm circumference were considered. Height of the stump above ground was taken in cm and cut angle determined by placing a carpenters’ square at the lowest end of the cut across the stump to form a perfect horizontal line. Evidence of regeneration through coppicing was carried out by visually examining stumps for regeneration. Results obtained showed that all species regenerated after cutting although only ten (10) species were commonly used in charcoal production mainly of the genera Brachystegia and Julbernardia. The mean stump height in cm of all tree species was 48 cm. Two categories of cut angle classes were common, acute angle (1800) 60 % (n = 708 stumps) and straight/flat angle 36 % (n = 425 stumps), obtuse angle 3 % (n= 35 stumps) and other 1% (n = 12 stumps). A difference was recorded in the coppicing period. Species sprouted within four weeks (at least showing a bud) between August and November and during the rainy season but took more than four weeks in ≥ 75% of the cases during the cold season May – July. It was concluded that the cutting of trees for charcoal production was not the direct cause of deforestation, but it was perhaps the greatest agent as more than 80% of the sites cleared for charcoal production were occupied by human settlements at least by end of the second year. Further studies are required to investigate species characteristics that may influence regeneration in addition to moisture and soil nutrients.
Published Date: 2018-02-15;