ZIMBABWE will early next year launch a sustainable forest management programme aimed at reducing land degradation, desertification and deforestation, Environment and Tourism minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said yesterday.

Ndlovu told journalists in Bulawayo that the project would focus on Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands with US$71 125 176 sourced from the Global Environment Facility Agency (GEFA).

GEFA is a financial mechanism that provides grant funds to developing countries for projects covering climate change, biodiversity, international waters and ozone depletion.

“The project title is a cross-sector approach supporting the mainstream of sustainable forestates and land management to enhance ecosystem resilience for improved livelihoods in the Save and Runde catchments of Zimbabwe,” Ndlovu added.

“The GEFA project will provide significant support to the country to avoid further degradation, desertification and deforestation of land and ecosystems through the sustainable management of production landscapes.”

Under the project, 2 150 hectares of land will be restored, 1,26 million metric tonnes of CO2e greenhouse emissions mitigated, the project will help address land degradation, climate change, biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of the environment.

The project seeks to address the drivers of environmental degradation, and to support transformational change in these key systems.

It is also being implemented in countries like Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malawi, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania.