The ZAFFICO plantations are located on the Copperbelt province in the northern part of Zambia between latitudes 12o 20’ and 13o 50’south and longitudes 26o 40’ and 29o 15’ east. The plantations are found in Ndola, Mufulira, Kitwe, Kalulushi, Lufwanyama and Chingola districts (Figure 1) and are divided into four administrative plantation groups namely Ndola, Chati, Ichimpe and Lamba. The Copperbelt province in which all ZAFFICO plantations are located is bordered to the north by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC, former ZAIRE), to the west by North – western province and to the south by Central province
ZAFFICO plantations were established in gazetted Forest Reserves administered by the Forestry Department in the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources. However, ZAFFICO has the right of ownership and management of plantation trees grown and collaborate with the Forestry Department in management of these forest reserves on which plantations are established.
Copperbelt Province lies within the Kafue river drainage system, which has a well developed dendritic drainage system. Topography is gently undulating and is between elevations of 1200 m to 1500 m above mean sea level
Temperatures on the Copperbelt range from approximately 15oC in June to July to about 30oC in the hot season of October to December. The Copperbelt Province experiences high rainfall with the mean annual rainfall estimated at 1300 mm per annum to a maximum of 1800 mm per annum. The climate is unimodal with some influence from the DRC basin. The main rains are associated with the passing of inter –tropical Convergence Zone.
Winds are light and generally easterly although occasionally are south –easterly. High winds are likely to be associated with heavy thunderstorms at the beginning of the rain season. During this period the moist air moves from the Atlantic Ocean over the DRC and westerly winds. From May to August the winds double in strength and remain at the highest level until the onset of the rains in November. The predominant wind direction is from the east to west. Vegetation of trees play very important role in reducing the wind velocity which sometimes damages roof houses and agricultural crops.
The ZAFFICO plantations were established on various soil types. The red lateritic soils have sandy topsoil and overlying loamier clayed sub soils. If soil conservation measures are not practiced these soils are susceptible to erosion by water. They are generally poor, acidic latosols, low humus, fairly strong leached and frequent shallow, particularly over laterite. These soils require careful management in order to obtain sustained cropping and yield. There is high leaching in the plantation areas due to high rainfall characterized by low reserve of plant nutrients and a low base saturation. The soils are acidic with pH ranging from 4.0 to 5.5 with no discernible change in pH down to a depth of approximately 3 m . Although there are differences between soil colors and solid texture, productivity of the soil is largely affected by the parent rock.