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Mining-forestry linkages and impacts in the Copper Belt of Zambia and the DR Congo
The recent increase in global demand for copper raw materials has contributed to rising of commodity prices and a scramble for natural resources, modifying forests and assuming a defining role in forest management and governance. However, the influence of mining industries on forests has not well been understood in the copper belt of Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This study was undertaken, in Chingola District in Zambia, operation centre for Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), and Lubumbashi in DRC, where Gécamines and other mining companies operate, to ascertain the relationship between copper mining, forest management and forest-based livelihoods. A multi-site approach was utilized for consultations with diverseactors at local, district and national levels, and with forest dependent communities from fringes of towns and in remote areas where mines have been obtaining timber. Interviews and field observations revealed that mining affects forests in a number of direct and indirect ways; from deforestation during green site developmentand sourcing of high quality timber to the sharp but indirect pressures over forests through the population pull effect of mining towns. Impacts on forest communities were in large part negative and huge investment in mining were in sharp contrast with levels of poverty and environmental degradation. Findings illustrate the need for concerted efforts to mitigate negative impacts from mining on the copper belt.