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Tree planting initiatives and sustainable forest management programmes in Botswana started in the 1940s and gained momentum in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  The development of forestry in Botswana ushered in a number of projects and programmes that were meant to instil conservational ethics, create awareness on the importance of the resources, as well as create socio-economic opportunities to derive benefit from them. Such programmes and projects were mainly driven by government and environmental NGOs.  When Botswana gained middle economic status in the early 1990s, foreign donor funding dwindled, resulting in the demise of key environmental NGOs. As a result, currently, most of the forestry projects and programmes are funded by the Government of Botswana.

Many projects and programmes were undertaken during the implementation of the National Development Plans (NDPs) to achieve the focus of sustainable forest management.  It should be noted that, cognisant of the fact that the impact of most forest and range resources projects and programmes are long term, some achievements were made against a back-drop of institutional constraints.

To date, the development of forestry in Botswana has resulted in the establishment of fifty two (52) woodlots of mainly exotic Eucalyptus species, with a total area of 220 hectares.  Furthermore, as a way of promoting reforestation by bringing tree seedlings closer to the communities, the Department of Forestry and Range Resources (DFRR) has established twenty one nurseries across the country with an annual average production of 500 000 tree seedlings. The major focus is on production of assorted indigenous tree seedlings at subsidized prices to the public.  The DFRR also supports the establishment of backyard nurseries so as to bring the tree seedlings even closer to the communities, and at the same time economically empower the rural communities.

The annual National Tree Planting Day (NTPD) promotes reforestation by issuing free tree seedlings to the communities.  The NTPD issues about 50 000 tree seedlings to the public annually as part of the National Tree Planting Programme.  A major reforestation initiative was the establishment of the National Tree Seed Centre (NTSC) in 1998.  The NTSC provides about 150 kg tree seeds of high physiological and genetic quality to the government tree nurseries and the public annually. 

Other projects and programmes include Forest Resources Inventories that are meant to generate essential information for informed decision making and to guide formulation of management plans; the Community Based Natural Resources Programme is premised on benefits derived from the resources and the resultant desire to conserve them; the Tropical Forest Conservation Fund providing funding for forest conservation, protection and Management; the Millennium Seed Bank Project that acts as an umbrella for a number of national MSB programmes.   Other major projects that have been implemented in the past include: Botswana Range Inventory and Monitoring Project (BRIMP), Indigenous Vegetation Project (IVP); Okavango Delta Management Plan – Vegetation Component, Community Forestry Development Project (CFDP), Forest Protection and Development Project (FPDP).

A Research Action Plan was developed under the SADC programme initiative in NDP 7 with the aim to prioritise and streamline research towards species trials, silvicultural treatments, and investigations of the potential of indigenous forest and veldt resources. Agro-forestry and community activities are however yet to be improved to arrest the rate of deforestation and fuel-wood extraction especially in wood resource-poor areas and populated settlements.

Furthermore, administrative initiatives have been made to improve channelling of financial and other assistance to the NGOs to undertake those activities necessary to achieve the objective of sustainable utilisation and development of the sector.

 
 
 
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