Welcome to the Forest Flyer, a quarterly news update from the United States Forest Service International Programs Africa & Middle East Team. To view previous issues of this newsletter, please click here. For more information about our programs, contact Kathleen Sheridan, Assistant Director, at kathleen.sheridan@usda.gov.
FALL 2021
POPULATION ASSESSMENT INFORMS ELEPHANT MANAGEMENT AT MALAWI WILDLIFE RESERVE
To determine how to best manage its elephant population and the landscapes where they roam, Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve needed data. Specifically, it wanted to know how well the elephants they recently translocated to the reserve were doing. What was their population growth? and what was their projected growth?

We were happy to partner with Nkhotakota, African Parks and USAID Malawi to provide the information they needed.

Read our Elephant Abundance Assessment to learn about what hundreds of camera traps and a random encounter model can tell us.
EVERY DROP COUNTS
A first assessment of restoration impact on soil moisture and water balance in Jordan's rangelands
In Jordan’s rangeland ecosystems, recurring droughts, unsuitable agriculture and overgrazing have led to vegetation and soil degradation. The resulting surface crusting negatively affects rainwater retention and infiltration, speeding up both surface runoff and soil erosion.

The U.S. Forest Service is working with Jordanian partners to stop excessive water runoff and increase soil moisture, leading to groundwater recharge.

Read about how we enable water retention and the success we've had so far.

ZIMBABWE ECOSYSTEM SNAPSHOT
We recently completed a Zimbabwe ecosystem assessment to provide a better understanding of the pressures facing Zimbabwe's natural landscape and to examine how these pressures might affect the provision of critical ecosystem services. Click below to view a snapshot of the assessment.
Zimbabwe’s rich natural landscape provides ecosystem services at multiple spatial scales: from soil and timber locally, to water provision regionally, to carbon storage and tourism globally. Natural landscapes also provide critical resources for subsistence and income for rural and urban communities.

Understanding the quantity and patterns of ecosystem services is important for ensuring their long-term provision.
Zimbabwe’s natural ecosystems and the services they provide are experiencing increasing pressure from agricultural development, urbanization, wildfire, and mining. This is concerning as substitutes for ecosystem services can be costly or completely unavailable. 

A major influence on natural resources has been Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Program, which started in 2000. The program resulted in 12.4 million ha of large-scale commercial farms redistributed across more than 150,000 A1 and A2 farms. The resettlement program had multiple influences, including clearing of woodlands and forests for agriculture – often using fire – reduced fallow periods, and environmental degradation from soil erosion and overgrazing. However, in recent years, trends in the rates of tree loss have declined and the area burned in wildfires has decreased.