By Staff Reporter
Every year, the world loses almost six million hectares of forest. To put that in perspective, that’s half the size of Portugal. The compound effect of this rapid deforestation is that today, the globe only has two-thirds of its forests left. Deforestation has several distressing effects on both nature and humankind, such as climate change, soil erosion, flooding, increased greenhouse gases, and decreased agricultural yields.
Sometimes called ‘the lungs of the world’, Africa’s forests are of great significance to the rest of the globe. As the largest area with wooded land, our continent represents 16% of the world’s forested areas; 46.5% being in eastern and southern Africa, 48% in western and central Africa, and 5,5% in northern Africa.
One of these vital forests is the Zambezi Source National Forest, which lies in the Mwinilunga District in North-West Zambia. The forest’s roof measures at 24 metres, with its vegetation and dense canopy providing important covering for the source of the Zambezi River.
Unfortunately, this critical ecosystem has not been immune to deforestation either. Over the years, there has been increasing levels of overall environmental degradation due to human activities, such as the clearing of land for subsistence agriculture and timber harvesting, causing an ecological imbalance in the area.
Loss of the delicate balance that defines the river source could also set a dangerous precedent for Zambia’s natural wealth in general and for the nation’s ability to remain a tourism and energy-generating powerhouse amongst Southern African nations.
Securing the Zambezi river’s source
As a bank that has made Africa its home and is passionate to drive her growth, Standard Bank Group values the protection of the continent’s rich and beautiful natural resources. By prioritising sustainability as a practice, adopting ESG principles throughout its vast business network, and partnering with likeminded partners to drive the green agenda, the bank is continually seeking opportunities to make a positive long-term impact on the African landscape.
As evidence of this dedication, Stanbic Zambia has partnered with the Worldwide Fund for Nature: Zambia (WWF), GIZ, and the Government of the Republic of Zambia to create awareness around securing and preserving the Zambezi River Source.
Called the ‘Let’s Secure Zambezi’ campaign, the aim is to restore the ecological imbalance in this important catchment area through various initiatives and promote the benefits of preserving the Zambezi River, such as the long-term mitigation of climate change. Furthermore, the initiative will also help to ensure that local livelihoods, such as fishing, small-scale agricultural production, and bee keeping, are protected against further effects from deforestation.
Stanbic’s commitment to sustainability
At a recent ceremony held to commemorate World Rivers Day, representatives of Stanbic Zambia announced that through the Let’s Secure Zambezi partnership, the reforestation of the Zambezi catchment area would start with the planting of 10 000 trees.
Of the initiative, Mwindwa Siakalima, CE at Stanbic Zambia says, “For Stanbic Zambia and the Group as a whole, it is important for us to contribute to the restoration of the ecological integrity of the countries in which we operate. Apart from contributing to the reforestation of this critical area, we are also committed to creating awareness around the importance of this water headway to surrounding communities. This is to ensure Zambians understand its significance to the current and future economic growth of the country.”
Over and above the regeneration of this area, the hope for the Let’s Secure Zambezi campaign is also to inspire passionate advocacy among Stanbic Zambia staff, as well as the general citizenry, on the importance of forest restoration and curbing ecological imbalances caused by humankind.