Zimbabwean forests and woodlands are rich in biodiversity, supplying both timber and non-timber forest products (NTFPs) for subsistence and commercial gains. NTFPs constitute more than 35 per cent of household incomes in Zimbabwe, supplying not only food, but also material for medicine, construction, livestock feed, and sustaining environmental and cultural values.
Biodiversity data in Zimbabwe is either scattered across several databases or resides in non-digital formats that don’t allow interactive searching. This leaves policy makers and other development agents working on NTFPs in biodiversity hotspots without access to relevant and reliable biodiversity data to aid in decision making. Although the National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens (NHBC) has archives of biodiversity information, these are mainly made up of un-digitized herbarium specimens not easily accessible for key decision making and research.
In this project, a team led by the Bindura University of Science Education will work with the Forestry Commission as the custodians of forest resources to create databases of NTFPs species used for food and medicinal purposes in Zimbabwe. With focus on and in collaboration with NHBC, the combined team will target NTFPs collection specimens to digitize, clean and publish to GBIF.org.
The mobilization of data on NTFPs species in this project will facilitate easy access for evidence-based policy formulation, management plans and decision-making, putting the project square in line with the Zimbabwe Agenda for Socio-Economic transformation (ZIMASSET) and UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15.