Victoria Falls Bureau
VICE President Kembo Mohadi said police should arrest anyone found illegally cutting down trees. Addressing tourism players in Victoria Falls last Friday, VP Mohadi said deforestation is a threat to the economy as the country is losing thousands of hectares of forests every year. “There are concerns pertaining to environment, conservation and deforestation. Over the past two decades deforestation has been so high in the country reaching a peak of 330 000 hectares of land that were destroyed between 2010 and 2014,” said VP Mohadi.
This is attributable to the opening of land for agriculture expansion, tobacco curing, infrastructure development and household use compounded by electricity challenges, he said.
VP Mohadi said through Government efforts, the rate of deforestation fell to between 100 000 and 150 000 hectares per year after 2015.
“While this is still high, we believe the nation is heeding calls from the Forestry Commission where they are making awareness on the dangers of deforestation, encouraging more trees planting and conservation of existing indigenous woodlands.
“The Forestry Commission is also working with law enforcement agents like ZRP, Environmental Management Agency (EMA), rural district councils, traditional leaders and Judiciary to apprehend and bring to book those found on the wrong side of the law.”
He said stakeholders across the country are requested to report any incidents of illegal tree cutting or deforestation to ZRP, EMA or Agritex officers.
“Our appeal as Government is that law enforcement agencies should work hard and apprehend all those who cut down trees. Together we can make our country greener and more attractive to tourists coming to see our flora and fauna,” said VP Mohadi.
In Matabeleland North, concerns have been raised about people who cut down trees to make charcoal for sale. Charcoal dealers have gone unpunished as they sell the product along the Victoria Falls-Bulawayo highway.
The Vice President said local forest cover for the country is now at 45 percent, which is critical. He said the country pins its hopes on every citizen embracing tree planting and shunning cutting down trees.
“We’ve National Tree Planting Day where the President leads the nation in planting trees. The country is producing 15 million trees per year, but we know they take time to grow.
“The forestry industry has a target of increasing this cover by 10 percent by 2030, but we want them to increase by 25 percent because forestry cover is very important for our environment,” said the VP.