President launches National Tree Planting Day President Mnangagwa plants a Mutunduru tree while First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi look on at Zanu-PF’s 18th Annual National People’s Conference in Goromonzi yesterday. — Picture: Tawanda Mudimu

Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter

President Mnangagwa yesterday officially launched this year’s National Tree Planting Day at Goromonzi High School.

The ceremony was held before he officially opened the Zanu-PF 18th National People’s Conference.

The tree was planted in the Mbuya Maud Muzenda Arboretum that was also officially launched yesterday.

An arboretum is an area set aside for the purpose of planting trees and shrubs for research, educational or ornamental purposes.

In his address, President Mnangagwa said it was important to plant trees.

“It’s the practice of Government that we need to replace the trees that we cut for various uses.

“Government, therefore, decided that the 1st of December each year we declare it the day of tree planting,” President Mnangagwa said.

He said the country needed to plant at least 15 million trees annually.

“As has already been articulated by the chair (Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri) we need to plant in the region of 15 million trees a year and currently, I am told we are around 12 million. We need to plant more in order to preserve our forests,” he said.

President Mnangagwa also said trees were important in maintaining the ecological balance.

“We must plant trees so that we maintain the ecological design by God that air shall be cleansed by trees.

“This is why we say every homestead should have a fruit tree or any other tree but beyond that I feel very humbled that the Friends of Joshua Trust have created this site (arboretum), of coursee expanding from what had happened before in honour of Ambuya Maud Muzenda,” he  said.

The tree planting was held under the theme “Fruit trees for food security and nutrition.”

In her remarks, Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri said the Tree Planting Day coincided with 25th Climate Change Conference underway in Madrid, Spain.

“I want to thank Government for directing the tobacco levy to the Forestry Commission and we pledge to make good use of it,” Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri said.

She said the fund would be used to support individuals, traditional leaders, local authorities, churches and other institutions with land to grow trees.

The tree of the year is Mutunduru (Garcinia buchananii), a small evergreen tree which reaches four to eight metres in height at full maturity. It is often densely branched with distinctive shiny dark green leaves above and paler green ones below, making it an attractive species of indigenous                          tree.

The tree is identifiable by its greenish-yellow flowers and fleshy edible fruits.

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